Tough Mudder targets 'Middle America' with new bootcamp franchise

Tough Mudder, the obstacle-running company known for its hardcore "military-style" courses, is now looking to shift gears and go full throttle into the fitness industry with plans to open 1,200 gym franchises by 2021.

The move comes as race participation for the seven-year-old startup begins to slow. Will Dean, co-founder and CEO of Tough Mudder, says the new “Tough Mudder Bootcamp” concept isn’t like other boutique fitness brands looking to gain market share in big cities. Instead, it’s solely targeting Middle America.

“What we’re trying to do is go after the market of ‘mudders.’ Most of whom don’t live in markets like New York and L.A. In fact, where we’re really focused on is Middle America. And, we’re trying to build a bootcamp of studio space that works at half the price, at $10 to $15 a class,” he says.

And while the price point is lower than most high-end boutique fitness brands, its profitability margin could potentially be four times higher than the Tough Mudder brand itself, he says.

“The average person doing our events spends over $600 preparing while we only get around $120 per ticket,” he adds. “Secondly, it’s a new channel for us to bring people in and it gives them a sense of what [it’s] all about.”

Tough Mudder says it’s already received over 1,500 applications from entrepreneurs who are interested, with its first location expected to open on the outskirts of Boston by the end of the year.

Dean says his long term goal is to have over 10,000 franchises worldwide in “10 years’ time.”

Tough Mudder launched in 2010 and has since grown to 10 countries around the world with over three million participants.