30 Minute Hit Franchise leaders Jackson and Deanna Loychuk
Current IssueLeadership ProfileMarch/April 2024

Out-of-the-Box Kickboxing

After two decades of nationwide growth and an international expansion, 30 Minute Hit continues to prove that niche fitness franchises are just warming up

By Roma Ihnatowycz

When Jackson Loychuk ran a successful martial arts studio in the early 2000s, he noticed he was primarily attracting a male clientele. And for the women who did join his North Vancouver, B.C., studio, the system fell short. One of those women just happened to be his wife, Deanna.

“The environment was pretty male-focused,” says Jackson. “It was one of those strange situations where we owned a gym that my wife wasn’t comfortable training in.”

So, Jackson and Deanna put their heads together and created a fresh boxing/kickboxing training concept geared solely toward women. It was a hit—no pun intended—from the get-go and the foundation for what would become the couple’s successful 30 Minute Hit franchise brand. In fact, their core values are also an acronym of the word HIT and the core of the company’s beliefs: hustle (make things happen), inspire (lead by example), and trust (be trustworthy).

“We were overwhelmed with the success and how many women loved HIT,” says Deanna of that fateful decision to create a high-intensity boxing/kickboxing circuit for women. “It’ll be 20 years ago this September that we started, and we now have just under 100 franchises in four countries: Canada, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and another opening in the U.A.E. (Dubai) this May.”

30 Minute Hit’s boutique concept successfully merged its two founders’ skills, talents, and unique insights. Jackson already had a long history as a successful martial arts trainer, working with both regular exercise buffs as well as professional fighters and members of the military and police force. At the same time, Deanna had managed a few businesses and built up some critical business acumen.

More importantly, Deanna had an innate understanding of what would appeal to women interested in a boxing/kickboxing workout. For starters, she says, they needed a program that gave women more freedom to train when they wanted to, created a welcoming environment, and allowed them to train individually rather than partnering with someone. Deanna and Jackson devised the 30 Minute Hit circuit with these basic ideas in mind.

Crash course

The concept took off immediately, steadily gaining in popularity and building a solid following, so much so that some of their first members became the initial cohort of 30 Minute Hit franchisees. Their members’ interest in the concept, says Deanna, drove the company’s expansion in the early years. “That’s how we grew across Canada, with members of our initial location, and then members of new locations, wanting to open their own franchise,” she says. “We grew very organically.”

For Jackson and Deanna, this meant a crash course in learning how to franchise their business concept. They learned as they went along (“There was no handbook,” Deanna says), focusing on what they felt was most important: ensuring their franchisees had the training and guidance needed to run a successful franchise. It’s a strategy they continue to embrace today, which they feel is integral to the brand’s success.

“We did things just by instinct, but in hindsight, we made many good decisions,” says Jackson. “We always prioritized our franchisees’ success and grew at a reasonable pace to support them. We grew by ensuring their success.”

While the couple initially wore many hats, they now have distinct roles. As the company’s CEO, Jackson is the visionary, overseeing marketing and business development, while Deanna, the president, focuses on operations. Together, they make a dream team and are as passionate about their business as they were initially. “I still get very excited every morning to log in and see what’s going on in the company,” says Deanna.

If there was one thing that put the duo’s leadership skills to the test it was the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been their biggest challenge to date. But they pivoted faster than many other fitness centres to move their workouts online, starting the process well in advance of Canada’s initial lockdown measures in March 2020.

“We saw what was happening in Europe, so we started building an online training program in early February,” says Deanna. “People questioned us and said, ‘This is nuts. You’re putting all our resources into this?’ And we said, ‘Absolutely.’”

By the time the government imposed mandatory closures, the 30 Minute Hit portal was up and running and offered free of charge to members worldwide. The company aptly named its online training program Hit at Home, and it proved so successful it’s still in place today. The company also helped franchisees apply for any available government grants—no easy feat given their global operation at the time.

Success and expansion

Today, Jackson and Deanna are still expanding in Canada with a keen focus on the international market. “We’re aiming at tripling our footprint in the next five years to 300 locations,” says Jackson. “We think that’s a completely sustainable growth curve.”

What accounts for the tremendous success of their brand? Jackson and Deanna credit their fantastic leadership team, their franchisees, the workout itself, and the strong community spirit in all their locations. “It’s a great workout—high intensity, edgy, with great music, but welcoming at the same time,” says Deanna. “If you talk to our members, they love HIT, they love how they feel after their workout, and they feel part of a supportive communHITy!”

The franchisees come from a varied mix of backgrounds. Some are existing members, trainers, and military veterans, while others are professionals eager to leave the corporate world and do something more community-based. There are many women owners, as well as husband-and-wife teams. All are passionate about the concept.

Given the nature of the business, training is critical. Franchisees attend a week of specialized training at the company’s training center (“UniversHITy”) in B.C., followed by on-location training upon opening. After that, they continue to attend bi-monthly online training sessions to ensure they’re up to speed with any new company or fitness developments. “Our training never stops,” says Deanna.

Jackson and Deanna offer new franchisees the same critical advice: follow the process. As Jackson puts it, “Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. You’ve invested in a business, but you’ve also invested in the experience and model that the franchise has proven over time. The best thing you can do is follow that model.”

At the same time, Deanna stresses that just because it’s a franchise, it doesn’t mean it’s a turnkey business with little effort required on the part of the franchisee. On the contrary, franchisees must be engaged, invested, and ready to put in the time and hard work required. “It’s turnkey in the sense that we give them everything to run the business, but they need to use the tools, the systems, and they have to be engaged,” Deanna explains.

Deanna and Jackson are well aware that a business doesn’t build itself. Their own success as franchisors has been the result of years of hard work combined with a strong belief in the basic concept of 30 Minute Hit. They saw a gap in the market, knew they had the combined skill set to fill it, and put their heart and soul into turning their business into a success.

Twenty years later, 30 Minute Hit is still going strong and growing, one kick at a time.

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