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Fernwood Founder and Managing Director of Fernwood, Diana Williams, was interviewed by Insights Success about empowering women, the Fernwood Franchise Network, and the importance of mental health and wellbeing.

DiWilliams“We know how a woman thinks about her health and what drives her towards achieving her fitness goals. With almost all our key executives being female, we are very attuned to the woman of today,” says Diana Williams, the Founder and Managing Director of Fernwood Women’s Health Clubs.

This extensive comprehension of women’s health and fitness needs is what makes Fernwood Women’s Health Clubs one of the best fitness and gym franchises in the world, leading to being featured on the cover story of the recent edition of Insights Success.

Fernwood was founded in 1989 when Diana recognised that women needed a place of their own – a sanctuary where they could exercise and reach their health and fitness and wellbeing goals. It is renowned for its exceptional customer service, premier facilities, and a special female touch to its amenities and ambience. From humble beginnings in Bendigo over 31 years ago, Fernwood now has over 70 clubs, situated in every state and territory of Australia.

Fernwood currently has two franchising models – the first being Fernwood Fitness, with each club providing comprehensive workout areas with strength and cardio equipment, personal training, small group personal training (FIIT30), group fitness classes, a nutrition program (Food Coaching), free breakfast and free toiletries; and the second being Fernwood Ultra which is a smaller footprint high end studio concept featuring Reformer Pilates, Yoga, Cycle, Meditation, and wellbeing which was founded in 2019.

Exhibiting true excellence

Fernwood has always maintained a culture of focusing on franchisee profitability as one of its key objectives. “Ensuring that our franchisees—some of whom have been part of the Fernwood network for more than 20 years—are successful and profitable franchisees, sets us apart from other chains which have a focus on ‘growth in outlets’ as their key driver rather than franchisee profitability,” says Diana.

Fostering empowered workplaces with a clear mission of connecting employees’ daily work to a broader social purpose and positive change also adds to the great culture within the Fernwood network. Moreover, every Fernwood franchisee and employee must participate in a Mental Health First Aid program to ensure that mental wellness as well as physical wellness is a strong focus of the organisation.

"The main competitive advantage our Franchisees receive when they join us is that we are a female-focussed business. Although the network has several male franchisees within its network or husband-and-wife teams, the core programs, marketing, and communications are all put together by women.

“Our mission is to ‘empower women to shine’ and our focus on creating a community of women within our clubs. Our members are very loyal to us and the creation of a community of women within our network is a very strong competitive advantage. We care about our franchises, their employees and in turn their members, and that is reflected in the length of tenure of our members, our employees, and our franchisees,” says the team at Fernwood.

Towards New Horizons

Fernwood is most certainly well positioned enough to take a huge leap forward regarding expanding its brand both domestically and globally. It has a sound balance sheet, excellent systems and its programs which are now trending towards mental wellness as well as physical wellness position Fernwood to grow in profit, memberships, and club expansion into the next decade.

Interested in joining our empowered community of Fernwood Franchisees? Find out more here.

Read the full interview here. First published by Insights Success.

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