Fitness at 50 and Beyond


EDINA, Minn. – In a society where looking young and fit is a way of life — it’s no surprise that more and more baby boomers are lacing up their sneakers and heading to the gym. But what about those boomers who are deterred by the testosterone-soaked image of gyms?

Enter Welcyon, Fitness After 50. This new slant on the fitness industry caters to the 50-plus crowd and is designed for the specific needs of any baby boomer who strolls through the door.

With three gyms currently open and operating in suburban Minneapolis and Sioux Falls, South Dakota – and a fourth under development in Fargo, North Dakota – Welcyon is seeking to open as many as 20 franchised locations over the next 12 months. The company’s long-term goal is to have 1 million members, a realistic aim when you consider baby boomers are turning 50 at a rate of 1 every 10 seconds. That’s more than 12,000 each day and over four million a year for each year of the next decade.

“Baby boomers aren’t going to age like the generations before them. They don’t want that usual decline where you’re going to fade off into the sunset. They want to live until they die,” said Suzy Boerboom, who co-founded Welcyon with her husband, Tom. “And one of the biggest reasons we want to stay fit is to prevent disease and illness.”

The Boerbooms, both boomers themselves, have had long careers in the health care business, Tom as an executive with various long-term care providers and Suzy as a registered nurse and executive with Beverly Health and Rehabilitation Services, the nation’s largest nursing home system. Together, they also owned six successful Curves franchises. That experience, coupled with several years of ruminating on the needs of fellow baby boomers, led them to create Welcyon.

Welcyon features a structured fitness program consisting of strength and cardiovascular training, as well as stretching and balance exercises. Workouts are guided by specially trained fitness coaches on equipment that uses air instead of traditional weight stacks to create resistance and build strength. Adding high tech to the high touch, the strength-training equipment is powered by Smart Card technology that tracks each member’s workout and measures progress. Each machine greets the member by name, sets the resistance, counts reps and adjusts the workouts, making them progressively more challenging as the member improves.

In addition to personalized exercise programs, members are paired with a registered dietician and receive a customized nutrition and meal plan aligned with their specific health goals, such as weight loss, improved sports performance or better management of chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease.

“People have a paradigm already of what a gym looks like,” Suzy added. “To them, it’s a big, loud place full of people in tight leotards and muscles bulging from every aspect of their tank shirts. Welcyon is way outside the paradigm.”

The club also features an area for social activities and wellness workshops covering such topics as healthy eating, brain fitness and better sleep.

Today, the Boerbooms are expanding their concept in what they believe is the frontrunner position in an attractive niche. They are seeking prospective franchisees looking to invest in a business that aligns with today’s health care, demographic and active aging trends. With a franchise fee of $30,000, the total investment to own and operate a Welcyon franchise is $240,000-$270,000.

“To succeed in the $21 billion health club industry you need a concept with a crisp, clear, differentiated proposition – and Welcyon provides it,” said Tom Boerboom. “The baby boomer population is one that is incredibly undeserved. No other health club chain is expressly designed for the needs of adults over 50.”

About Welcyon

Founded in 2009 by Paul Contris, and Tom and Suzy Boerboom, former health club owners and long-time experts in the field of active aging, Welcyon, Fitness After 50 is an up-and-coming franchisor of health clubs for adults over 50. The company has carved a niche in the $21 billion health club industry with a concept that caters specifically to the exploding baby boomer market and its desire for healthier and more active lives. Based in Minneapolis, Welcyon has locations in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota, and is expanding nationwide via franchising. For more information, visit www.welcyon.com.

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Claims of increased strength are based on an analysis of 716 members who exercised for two years. Results will vary based on each individual’s level of participation. Wellness claims are based on evidence in health and exercise science literature.
Franchises that receive federal assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration by law, may not discriminate, prohibit, or deny services to any individual who seeks membership at the franchisee’s facility.