The Bar Method Moves Into Japan

The Bar Method

Boutique franchisors are betting on Japan.

What’s happening: Self Esteem Brands’ The Bar Method, a barre fitness studio, is expanding to Japan, its first territory outside North America.

Master franchisor Fast Fitness Japan, operator of 1K+ SEB-owned Anytime Fitness clubs in Japan and Germany, inked the deal to debut the brand in Tokyo in 2025.

Raising the barre. Barre – a fusion of Pilates, yoga and strength training – is one of Americans’ most-booked boutique classes.

A major player, The Bar Method has scaled to 77 US and Canadian clubs, part of Self Esteem Brands’ pursuit of 10K clubs worldwide by 2030.

Jumpstarting its home market, FFJ’s CEO Kiyoaki Yamabe expects the modality to “increase Japan’s fitness participation rate” and “attract a wider audience, particularly women”.

Rising sun. For global franchisors, Japan is a promising growth market.

  • Aussie-born STRONG Pilates aims to roll out 50 Japanese studios in five years.
  • Australian boutique boxing franchise UBX opened its first of a planned 145 studios last year.
  • US-based Xponential Fitness signed a master franchise agreement with StretchLab MF Sunpark for 50 Pure Barre studios, its sixth brand to launch in the country.

Takeaway: Fitness is a benefactor of Japan’s recent societal changes, namely the increasing numbers of working women and need for social, time-efficient workouts. With dense urban populations and interest in group classes rising, boutique fitness franchises are punching their tickets.

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