Explore the inspiring journey of Fitness Factory’s Founder Pedro Simao, who began with a small-town gym in Portugal and expanded globally. This exclusive interview delves into the company’s origins, growth strategies, and the unique values that set Fitness Factory apart. Discover the challenges faced during the pandemic, the vision for the future, and the commitment to bringing fitness to everyone’s doorstep. With a focus on simplicity, community involvement, and a family-oriented approach, Fitness Factory is not just a gym; it’s a movement changing lives worldwide.

From Gym Manager to Global Entrepreneur

We started the interview by asking, “Explain your background and your Company’s in detail.”

Pedro Simao replied, “Graduated in Physical Education and Sports I started my career in Fitness in 1999 when I went to manage a small Hotel Gym. I have completed a mini-MBA in Business Management and a post-graduate degree in Academies and Gymnasiums Management.

In 2005 I opened my first gym in my hometown and in 2007 I started Group Balance Company with the opening of the first gym Balance Club in Caldas da Rainha, a small town with 25,000 inhabitants and 60 km north of Lisbon.

In 2015 I launch the Fitness Factory in the same city, being the first Smart Cost gym in Portugal. At this time, I am leading the Fitness Factory international expansion additionally to my role as CEO of Balance Company. This year we also launched a virtual class platform, VEO, which would later become the first fully online gym.

The Fitness Factory expansion process takes place through the Franchising model, and in 2023 we make the big international leap with the opening of the first gym in India (Chennai). In the same year, the company acquired 100% of the brand Vivafit (Gym Ladies Only) and Personal 20 in Portugal (electro-stimulation). At this time it is present in 3 Continents, 5 countries and with 62 units in operation.

Personally I also have an intense associative activity, trying to repay the market what the market has given me! I was a member of the Board of the Portuguese Active Association having been Chairman of the Fiscal Council in this last term and I am currently Vice-Chair of Portuguese Association of Franchising.

In 2022 I was honored in Brussels with the Resilience Award awarded by the European Franchising Association.”

The Worlds Times: Give us one word that describes you the best.

Your Answer: Trust

Setting Horizons beyond Borders

The Worlds Times: What are your goals?

Pedro Simao replied, “My goals have been redefined over the years. In 2025 I wanted to open my first gym. After opening I started to aim to open another 3 near the area where I lived.

In 2015, with the opening of the Fitness Factory and entering the world of franchising, I realized that this could be scalable but always with the horizons within the limits of our country, Portugal!

From 2023 my goals are undergoing a profound change with the opening of the first gym in India. At that moment I realized that my boundary did not have to be my limit! That forced me to redefine the concept of objective!

At this point, my goal has become to build gyms (through our 5 brands: Fitness Factory, Vivafit, Balance Club, FT30 and P20) in as many locations as possible, but always do not exist, in the periphery and where we can create new users / practitioners and a real impact on the community. My goal has become “a gym at everyone’s door”! For this purpose, we define preferred targets and locations every year!”

Strength in Trials

The Worlds Times: What do you feel is the biggest strength of “FITNESSFACTORY” right now?

Pedro Simao replied, “Our trials! It is thanks to the processes we have developed that we have created strong and knowledgeable teams, which enables us to be in low-population cities and the business to be very profitable. If we add to this above-average adaptability and agility in resource management, it makes us a brand with the ability to operate in any market and almost, I would say, any city.”

Charting the Entrepreneurial Odyssey

The Worlds Times: What was the path you took to get to where you are today?

Pedro Simao replied, “Do everything you believed you were doing right, be attentive and seize the opportunities! I could say that grabbing the opportunities would be what brought us here, but it would be incorrect and inaccurate!

Now I have the conviction that the little things well done that we did in the past and in a daily consistent way were the basis of the preparation that allowed us to take advantage of the opportunities every time it arose! Internationalization for India, which is one of our last great steps, only happens because we have developed this mentality.”

The Genesis of Fitness Factory

The Worlds Times: Why did you start “FITNESSFACTORY”?

Pedro Simao replied, “The Fitness Factory appeared because in my city, which has only 25,000 inhabitants and is a distance of 60Km from Lisbon, there were no gyms with affordable prices and at the same time with quality both in terms of facilities, equipment and teams. With this model we solved these problems and went on to have a gym where the customer chose what they would like to buy in addition to their basic tuition. It was a response to a market need!”

Navigating Leadership Trials

The Worlds Times: What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome during the journey of your leadership?

Pedro Simao replied, “Manage the teams on the day we had to close the gyms because of Covid 19 and subsequently during the periods we had closed. This period coincided with the final period of the pregnancy of my youngest daughter (the 6th) and my home became a real command post.

Additionally I had another big challenge that was the management of the network of franchisees that deposited in us, as Master Franchise, all the hope of a solution so that their gyms did not close…and none closed!!!

They were very stressful moments and a learning that will serve for the rest of your life. There’s no impossible!”

Embracing Fitness with Purpose

The Worlds Times: What do you value the most about “FITNESSFACTORY” vision?

Pedro Simao replied, “the possibility of being a way to improve people’s lives and put “at their door” a gym where they can do physical activity, helping to make them more active and happier! This is only because Fitness Factory is a brand with very rooted values and a culture of serving others.

On the other hand, we try to make this happen in an easy and fun way, so we often use the phrase: “Fitness to Enjoy””

Unveiling Fitness Factory’s Distinctive Strategies

The Worlds Times: What are the strategies of “FITNESSFACTORY” and how do you stand unique from your competitors?

Pedro Simao replied, “Our strategy focusses on our proximity to people and our involvement in communities. We believe that “less is more” and we try to simplify all processes as much as possible, putting technology in our favor and not complicating.

We understand that everything has to be simple and, above all, it has to look simple! This ends up adding top-level workers and franchisees. These are the people who make the brand grow and get better every day. In addition to what I have just said, the fact that we are a family business helps us to be closer to the centers of action and to be agile.”

Navigating Challenges with Core Values

The Worlds Times: What are the key values which helped you to overcome the challenges in your path? Tell us something about your memorable incident in your leadership?

Pedro Simao replied, “The values that guide our actions are Credibility (with which we deliver the services to our end customer and our franchisee), Efficiency (which we have developing the ability to do more with less), Security (that we contribute to our business), Transparency (with whom we manage relationships and processes) and Agility (who we have to change / adjust when necessary and without losing time and energy).

In my head is still present the day when I decided to close all our clubs, 2 days before the government took this initiative in the first closure during the period of Covid-19. It was a solitary decision, after listening to my management colleagues, the people closest to me and my family, but it was taken with the full awareness that it was completely aligned with the values of my organization and mine.”

Navigating Challenges with Core Values

The Worlds Times: How do you see the company changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?

Pedro Simao replied, “Our transformation has already begun! In the next 2 years the company will inevitably grow inside and outside Portugal and this requires a redefinition of its own roles internally. The entry of more experienced workers into international markets and the introduction of processes to control this variety and complexity of data simultaneously is, without doubt, the biggest challenge that we have before us. My role should know how to read the signs and continue to promote the culture that has distinguished us and that allows us to achievements that make us very proud. I would say that whenever my role is to put myself at the service of the needs of the organization and help my team leaders to perform their role in the best way and with the greatest benefits for the customers, for the employees and for the organization.”

Elevating Lives

The Worlds Times: What benefits are your clients getting from “FITNESSFACTORY” in this competitive world?

Pedro Simao replied, “Easy to start, easy to use and easy to continue! This is what moves our teams when delivering service to the customer.

If we can do this, the valuation we need in front of the customer is guaranteed! And we are aware that this is only done with the right people in the same team and who share the same values living the same culture! Because the rest are material issues where who goes ahead is who has the most money to spend!” 

A Personal Message from Pedro Simao Simao

Lastly we asked, “Would you like to say anything else to our viewers?”

Fitness Factory is already changing the world!

Started by moving to a small town in Portugal and continued to move to other cities (bigger and smaller). If you have some Fitness Factory near the place where you live and/or work advice to try. If you don’t have any nearby and do not have viable options to do gym near you, contact us by sending an email with the message “I want to be more active, healthier and happier”. We will help change your world too!” Pedro Simao concluded.

Connect Pedro Simao Simao on Linkedin

Visit Fitness Factory to learn more

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