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New Owner Revamps Stride Fitness With Franchise Growth in Mind



When Katie Ownbey and Misa Casey sold Stride to Xponential Fitness in 2019, it was with the hope of seeing the concept expand nationwide via franchising under the multi-brand platform company of boutique fitness brands. Five years later and with just 16 locations, however, Stride is changing its format under a new owner as it aims to evolve the brand positioning as a provider of treadmill-based workouts.

“It’s a great brand. It just never really caught traction because Xponential rolled it out just at the start of COVID,” said Shaun Grove, the former president of Rumble Boxing who formed Stride Fitness Franchising and acquired Stride in February following Xponential’s divestiture of the brand. “I don’t think Xponential did the best job it could have in rolling it out. I attribute that a lot to the timing … we had a lot to deal with with COVID in fitness.”

Grove, who before leading Rumble spent six years as president of another Xponential brand, Club Pilates, is working to reposition Stride as a high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, concept to expand its appeal. “HIIT your Stride” is the new tagline.

“The treadmill concept was maybe not universally appealing,” he said. “There’s not a ton of consumers who just want to run indoors.”

Shaun Grove is the new leader of Stride after purchasing it from Xponential Fitness.

Co-founders Ownbey and Casey, who launched Stride in 2017, became franchisees of their single studio in Pasadena, California, following the sale to Xponential and continue to operate it today.

“We are two non-runners that became runners because of treadmill classes,” said Ownbey of the concept’s origins. The “horrible timing” of the pandemic stymied growth and “killed our momentum,” she continued, and being one of 10 brands meant Stride didn’t get enough attention from the parent company to overcome early challenges.

“We’re happy not to be part of Xponential anymore because we need the individual attention as a new brand,” said Ownbey. “I’m not here to toot Shaun’s horn, but we’re excited for the future of Stride and to go through this transformation and bring Stride to people nationwide.”

Xponential, meanwhile, is facing investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, along with multiple class action lawsuits alleging it defrauded its investors. The company May 10 announced the indefinite suspension of CEO Anthony Geisler.   

Ownbey’s and Casey’s location, where Ownbey noted The Combo class combining interval running or walking with strength training is already the most popular, will complete a remodel in June. The number of treadmills is being reduced in favor of dedicated space for weight training and functional fitness components, similar to the setup at Rumble, where one side of the studio features boxing bags and the other workout benches with dumbbells.  


Misa Casey, left, and Katie Ownbey are co-founders of Stride and now operate the original studio in Pasadena, California, as franchisees.

“It’s the HIIT workout of Rumble, but instead of the boxing piece, it’s treadmills,” said Grove. Fewer required treadmills will also serve to reduce the initial investment cost for franchisees. The franchise program is paused while Grove revises the franchise disclosure document and prepares to launch the adjusted offering.

“The studios were a little bit over-engineered, and that raised the price tag a bit,” said Grove of the model under Xponential, which had an initial investment range of $379,990 to $554,690. “I’m looking for some cost savings as I evaluate other changes.”

A revamped website and marketing plan to generate lead flow are in the works to align with Stride’s updated positioning. Existing franchisees, who will also remodel their studios, are embracing the changes, said Grove, as he works to build trust and gain their buy-in.

“A lot of these studios have been struggling for years, and there’s been promises made that maybe didn’t materialize,” he said. “I’ve been paying for their marketing and been infusing some financial assistance and showing them I’m a true partner.”

In addition to California, Stride has locations in Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Texas, Massachusetts, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada.

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