It's an odd situation, one most businesses would probably envy.
Most weeks, Body Exchange owner Louise Green receives four or five requests to open a franchise in Surrey. The client base is ready, but she hasn't yet found the right person to become her newest franchisee.
"We need someone really specific," Green said.
That's because Body Exchange is a fitness and adventure company for plus-size women, and promotes a "fearless fitness at any size" philosophy.
"It's about getting people living an adventurous lifestyle at any body size," she said. This includes a lot more than workouts, such as monthly adventure outings, destination retreats and support for creating health and wellness through accountability and slow, steady change.
Green was a talent agent for seven years when she became pregnant. She said during her maternity leave she thought about what she really wanted to do career-wise.
What she soon recognized as her passion was helping people with their fitness goals, even more so than her previous experience in volunteering for the Vancouver Sun Run. She decided to become a certified fitness trainer.
But pregnancy also brought a weight gain that bumped Green into a plus size. A bit of research turned up disappointingly few choices for larger sized women who want real, mainstream fitness options.
However, Green saw a business opportunity.
In 2008, when her son was just a baby, she launched Body Exchange in North Vancouver. It didn't take long to catch on, with national media interest and even an opportunity to pitch to CBC's Dragon's Den.
Today, Green still operates the North Van location, with franchises in Burnaby and Vancouver. She had tried to run a Body Exchange program in Cloverdale some time ago, but she realized it needed a committed owner/operator from the city.
"It really needs somebody whose roots are in that community."
And, she said, the right person must be on board with Body Exchange's philosophy and non-judgmental approach, with a particular understanding of the demographic. That's important because, as Green said, often plus-sized women struggle with their appearance and physical ability.
"We focus on wins," she said. "We're dealing with a group that's really hard on themselves. They need to recognize that they're really doing great."
For more information on Body Exchange and to get in touch with Green about possible franchises, check out bodyexchange.ca.
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