14 March 2023

After 13 years with Anytime Fitness, Canberra's dynamic duo has plans for further expansion

| Katrina Condie
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Couple standing in gym

Anytime Fitness Fyshwick and Chisholm owners Billy and Emma Coombes will soon be opening another club. Photo: Liv Cameron.

When Billy and Emma Coombes bounced into the fitness industry 15 years ago, they never imagined they’d end up owning six gyms over that time, with plans for a seventh.

Having previously owned independent facilities, the couple has operated Anytime Fitness gyms in Canberra for 13 years, now heading up clubs at Fyshwick and Chisholm. They sold their Lanyon club and have plans in the pipeline to expand to Molonglo.

Billy said that initially, they were not expecting the venture to be so rewarding, but had since found running gyms is not only a great way to keep fit, it’s the perfect place to make new friends and immerse themselves in the local community.

They also discovered the fitness industry offers the flexibility to work from home and raise their family.

“We loved the industry, but it was the people we met, how they changed or maintained their fitness, and how happy they were coming in that we enjoyed the most,” Billy said.

“The flexibility has also meant we have more time with our daughter and extended family.”

As the longest consecutive owners of Anytime Fitness clubs in Canberra, the couple has seen many changes in the industry over the years.

Gone are the days of 1980s-style muscle centres – Emma said modern, 24-hour gyms were friendly, supportive communities where “Hi” and “Bye” were the most important words of the day.

“That personal contact on the way in and out of the gym is so important,” she said.

“This one thing opens so many doors with shy members and makes it a fun place to work and train.

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“We tend to have a more relaxed membership base rather than hardcore people, and it’s great to see different demographics interacting and helping each other out.”

Emma said people didn’t go to their gyms to show off, they went to get where they wanted to be or maintain a lifestyle.

“Eat, drink, train, have fun, and live longer – just be healthier for you,” she added.

“No one thing is right for everyone, except being a little healthier, and we’re so happy to be expanding something that makes Canberrans look and feel great.”

Billy said modern gyms had a strong focus on community, as well as safety, technology, convenience and cleanliness.

“Another plus is the weekly cost has not increased anywhere near other industries, especially when reflected in the cost of the modern fitouts and equipment,” he added.

“People don’t generally like to pay for something they have to do, but the return on investment is insane.”

After seeing how many people they reached in their Anytime gyms, the couple decided to expand their network, and they’re looking forward to launching a new club in the Molonglo community this year.

“Although we no longer work together directly, we’ve doubled the number of people we can look after with an expanded team across two sites (at Fyshwick and Chisholm),” Billy said.

“Our team members make our clubs and, because we mainly work from our home office now, a lot goes into picking the right team members and keeping our training up.”

Billy said they provided their members with an amazing product and, as a part of the Anytime Fitness Australia-wide network, they completely redid every club, every five years.

They also replaced all cardio, and upgraded tired equipment – usually adding a few new machines.

“We have just extended and completely redone the Anytime Fyshwick club, and work is underway on the Anytime Chisholm upgrade,” Billy said.

“We’re working towards the new one at Molonglo once there is more space out there.”

He said the type and number of gyms in Canberra had “drastically increased” in recent years as people sought flexible fitness regimens that suited their lifestyles.

“There has been a shift from very large, scattered gyms to the smaller, convenience 24/7 model, which is now transitioning into larger but still convenient 24/7s. There is really something for everyone now.”

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Being involved in community events and fundraisers is important to Billy and Emma, and they encourage their members to step up as well.

“We recently completed our Tread For Life week where, as a group, Anytime Fitness clubs raised almost $300,000 to go towards suicide prevention,” Emma said.

“The community aspect is so important and everyone feels involved even if they don’t or can’t participate directly.”

The clubs boast 24-hour security, with secure key access and the highest hygiene standards, so whether you love cardio, lifting weights, group workouts or require a personal trainer, Billy and Emma will help find what works for you.

No matter your body type, fitness level, ability or background, if you’re looking for a friendly, flexible gym you’ll be welcomed in Canberra’s Anytime Fitness clubs and 500 centres around Australia.


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