A Success Story – The Man Behind the Empire Based in Lund

There is no other place that we both love and hate so much at the same time. We walk through the doors with heavy steps, with our thoughts still lingering around our comfortable bed, our favorite tv-show or the snacks waiting for us at home. However, an hour later we walk out the same doors feeling like superheroes – unstoppable and strong. Does it sound familiar? Then you know what I am talking about, yes, the gym. In these special times that we live in, the gym has become an increasingly important social aspect of our lives. The people you previously ran into while waiting to warm your yet again average lunch box at EC, while queuing at Grönt och Gott, or on the middle of the dance floor at Malmö Nation, are now absent from these spots. No, don’t worry, this won’t be another tiresome story about Covid-19. The point is that nowadays you run into them in the grocery store or at the gym instead. And there is one gym in particular that seems to be attracting most of the students at EC…

Namely, Fitness 24/7. Many students have stated that they choose 24/7 above the gym that they have previously worked out at back home. When looking at my Snap Map, I can clearly see that this phenomenon is true. I can almost count the times that no one on my Snap Map has been to the gym on my bare fingers. What is it then that attracts the students in Lund to join 24/7? The low price, the possibility to work out at any given time of the day and a part of the gym dedicated only for women are all factors that have been important for the success story that is 24/7. However, there is actually more to the story than what most people know.

Here is where it gets interesting. See, the gym was actually founded by a 24 year old student enrolled at LUSEM, called Christian Ask. He opened up the first gym in Malmö in 2002, while simultaneously studying the Civilekonom program here in Lund. He decided to name the gym Fitness 24/7 to give the brand an international vibe and to give the impression that the gym was a
part of a bigger business chain. Even in the very beginning, he had his eyes set far ahead. In the early days of his venture, Christian possessed every role in the company. He was the cleaner, the receptionist and even the janitor all at once, in order to not be forced to pay any salary to employees. He funded the business venture entirely out of his own pocket at this point, and has continued to do so ever since, without a single loan taken to expand the brand.

The gym in Malmö attracted a lot of customers right from the start, and within a year Christian had opened three more gyms, one of them was located here in Lund. The success was a fact and Christian was forced to drop out of Lund University in order to focus on his blooming business. And boy did he make the right decision – today the gym chain has about 250 units in three different continents and is constantly looking for new markets to grow in. They are currently investigating the possibility to add Brazil, Mexico and Chile to the list of countries they operate in. The end goal is to open up gyms all over the world, just like the name picked almost 20 years ago implies. To top it off, Christian still owns 100 percent of the company whose revenue rose over 1 billion SEK last year and made a profit of incredible 73,5 million SEK. Unlike most businesses, Fitness 24/7 has actually gone with profit every year since the first gym was opened in 2002.

The inspiration for the business model stems from IKEA – and is all about making the product relatable and accessible to everyone. Christian states that they intentionally keep a low price setting, since they feel that it is a question about democracy to make training and the health benefits it brings available to everyone. It is this discourse that drives them to open up gyms both in wealthy communities and in more socio-economically challenged areas. How come we have never heard of this before? While Christian has made the front page of various large financial newspapers in Colombia for example, he has chosen to have a more private approach here in Sweden in order to protect his personal life and to spend his time working on expanding the business instead.

So the next time you drag yourself off that couch, thank yourself for the investment you make in yourself and know that this is enabled by a fellow Lundabo. And while you bike there, make sure to keep your eyes open – because not only is the headquarters still located in Lund, but Christian
himself has also remained here. The beauty in this is that each and every one of us has the power and the ability to start our own exhilarating journey, just like Christian did, if we only have the courage to do so. Similar to him, we are prominent Lundabor with the future laying in front of our feet. So, what journey is waiting for you?

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