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Fitness programs for kids in Canada

Children's Services:

The economy can plummet and gas prices can skyrocket, but one thing remains constant: Kid-focused businesses are continuing to grow. Even as purse strings tighten, spending on kids--from their tutoring to their art classes--remains generous. "Parents will scrimp on items for themselves to get the best for their children," says Jennifer Ferguson, consumer insights and research director at Creative Consumer Concepts, an integrated, kid-focused brand marketing agency. Ferguson also notes that the market is being fueled by doting grandparents who have become increasingly involved in their grandchildren's lives.

Child enrichment and child fitness businesses in particular are enjoying healthy bottom lines. Having tapped into both segments, Albert Diaz, 49, and his wife, Maria Fernanda Diaz, 40, are perfectly positioned to ride the wave. In 2003, they opened a FasTracKids franchise, which offers a specialized curriculum in 12 subjects. They were so encouraged by the success they experienced with educational enrichment that they shifted their focus to physical enrichment. Two years ago, they introduced their Rye Brook, New York, community to JW Tumbles, a children's gym specializing in physical development. Because of the well-tested programs already put in place by the franchisor, the couple has been able to open two additional JW Tumbles locations and expects sales for the three locations to reach $1.5 million this year.

But as tempting as it might be to buy a franchise and wait for parents to show you the money, don't think of the industry as child's play. The Diazes are successful because they're completely hands-on in their business. Not only do they make sure their clients enjoy the experience from start to finish, but they also make it a top priority to learn names and keep the facilities spotless--and they train their employees to uphold the same business practices. Says Albert, "People will try something once, but what's going to keep them coming back is the whole experience."

And if you want your business to stand the test of time, make sure you're sufficiently capitalized to get through the growing pains. With the average JW Tumbles location measuring in at about 2,500 square feet, Albert estimates that startup costs for the franchise range anywhere from $150,000 to $225,000, and he recommends having an additional $50,000 in working capital to handle the first year.What are the trends in kids' businesses? Kids increasingly want to have a positive impact on the world and the environment, so businesses that can empower kids might enjoy broad appeal, says Ferguson.

And don't forget about moms. "This is the first time we have had four generations of women becoming mothers at the same time," says Ferguson. "Tap into a mom's desire to be a good mom with a product that works for kids and the whole family."


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