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Sage founder launches groundbreaking fitness franchise
ONE of the founders of global technology firm Sage has teamed up with a North-East sporting legend to launch the world's first commercial franchise of a new high-tech fitness system.
Graham Wylie, who has acquired the UK and European franchise for high-tech fitness system Speedflex, has joined forces with former Newcastle footballer Alan Shearer to open the UK's first Speedflex Performance Centre in Jesmond, Newcastle.
The system, which is said to burn 1,000 calories in a 30 to 40 minute session and leave users with little muscle soreness afterwards, works by enabling users to perform cardio and resistance exercise safely at speeds which were previously impossible.
Originally designed to be used by elite athletes and for injury rehabilitation, Mr Wylie spotted the commercial opportunity after investing £300,000 ($500,000) in the research and development, and was granted the UK and European rights 18 months ago.
The system, which is already used by Mr Shearer and the Newcastle Falcons rugby team, is not yet available to the general public anywhere else in the world.
Sports scientist and physiotherapist Paul Ferris, who is now managing director of Speedflex Europe, became involved after meeting Mr Wylie at Mr Shearer's 40th birthday party.
Mr Ferris and Mr Wylie to rigorously tested and researched the system for 18 months before establishing a business plan. Mr Shearer has also invested in the company.
The firm plans to roll the system out across the UK and Europe using a franchise system, with centres planned in Birmingham and London.
Mr Wylie told The Northern Echo: "We have tested it for 18 months. We know it does what it says on the tin. We have spent a lot of time making sure we have got the business model right.
"We know what it takes ion terms of costing. You only need about 100 members to break even. We have worked out it costs about £98,000 to get it up and running. If they get 100 members, they start to break even and make a profit.
"What really convinced me and gave me confidence was the fact Alan came in every week, two or three times a week, and used it."
Mr Wylie said they had identified about 320 locations in the UK which contained large enough volumes of their target market for a franchise to be viable, and expected to get between 50 and 100 franchises in the country.
Membership to one of the centres, which includes personal trainers to guide users through every session, is £150 a month. They can also be used on a one-off basis at £20 a session.
Mr Wylie said he was not nervous about launching during a recession.
"Our model shows it does not require a large investment to get quite good return quite quickly.
"I think the people we are primarily talking to have money to invest."
Mr Shearer said: "Speedflex allows me to train to my maximum every time I'm in the room. I can work out at levels of intensity that were unavailable to me as a player. I love how the machines respond to my effort and I believe it will keep me in shape for years to come."