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| News & Know How | First Person Mauricio Musiet Founder and CEO, Sportlife Santiago, Chile By Patricia Amend Some details, please, on Sportlife and the Chilean market. What do you feel are the principal barriers to expansion? Sportlife, based in Santiago, was born 20 years ago with the dream and the objective of doing something sports-related that would have a positive impact on the quality of life of Chileans. When we opened our first club in 1993, we became pioneers in the country’s fitness industry. With our new infrastructure, our high-tech equipment, and our professional service, we established new standards of operation that revolutionized the Chilean market. The biggest barriers are the high cost of land and property, rising salaries, and the extremely high cost of energy. We’re also hampered somewhat by a shortage of trained profes- sionals in the industry, as well as by the large number of competitors, including the high-volume/low-priced chains. And how has Sportlife grown and evolved since that time? Today, Sportlife has 44 clubs throughout Chile—14 of which are owned, and 30 of which are franchised operations. We’re now in the process of acquiring some of our fran- chised units, so that, eventually, half of our clubs will be company-owned and half, franchised. Most of our facilities—which range in size from roughly 16,000 to 32,000 square feet—focus on fitness, and feature a lot of high-tech equipment, as well as a variety of group exercise classes. Occasionally, we’ve developed larger clubs with pools and spas, but our real strength lies in our fitness offering. Tell us about your partnership with Bodytech of Colombia. Our partnership with Bodytech allows us to operate in Colombia, Chile, and Peru, and to access the best practices in each country and incorporate them into our system. In all, we have around 120 clubs, with 2,700 employees, which serve some 210,000 members, who can work out in all three countries. Right now, in terms of size, we’re prob- ably No.1 in Latin America and about No. 15 in the world. Our plan is to expand throughout Latin America, and, right now, we’re working on opening locations in Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Panama. Download the Free IHRSA App: What’s most unique about the Chilean fitness industry? What’s unique is that, despite the fact that it’s a small coun- try and doesn’t have a large population, Chile has more competitors than any other country in Latin America. This is probably due to the credible, healthy, and well-organized economy that’s prevailed in our country for the last 20 years, and to Chile’s capital system, which has very few barriers to entry. For example, fitness equipment can be imported easily, with basically no duties or restrictions. What are Sportlife’s greatest challenge and opportunity? Our challenge, now, is to continue pursuing our dream and our mission, with the same passion and values that have inspired us, every day, to improve the health and well-being of our clients. Our greatest opportunity lies in the fact that we still have a low penetration rate in the market, and, therefore, a large group of prospects to engage. Over the next five years, we see Sportlife growing in several Latin American countries and playing a leading role in the industry. Will you be attending the 15th IHRSA/Fitness Brasil Latin American Conference and Trade Show this month in São Paulo? I try to attend every industry trade show I can, and IHRSA/ Fitness Brasil is no exception. If nothing happens to prevent it, I’ll be there. There’s always something new to learn about this business, and the opportunity to mingle with one’s peers and share thoughts and ideas is always valuable. —| | AUGUST 2014 | Club Business International 27