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Adult special needs group exercise class underway at the Franco's health and fitness club in Louisiana

Franco’s – The remarkable health club that never says no Mandeville, Louisiana, USA

This is the story of how Franco’s Athletic Club located in the American state of Louisiana is using generosity to become one of the world’s most admired health clubs. It is written by Ray Algar, founder of Gymtopia.

I first met Sandy Franco, one of the co-owners, when she was presenting at the 2013 IHRSA European Congress in Madrid. Her message was a simple one: Invest in your community and the community will invest in your club. Sandy and Ron, her husband, have consistently pursued this strategy for 26 years.

Man holding microphone and urging people to workout harder during Workout for Warriers fund raiser

Iron Tribe Fitness, Team RWB – Life after War Across the United States

Imagine you are a 23-year old American soldier deployed to western Afghanistan. Life is highly organised because it is ‘mission driven’. Everyday your life, and those of your comrades, depends on you bringing your ‘A game’ to the battlefield in pursuit of the shared mission. You are a valued part of a team and if the day comes that you have to sacrifice your life in pursuit of the mission, or to protect a comrade, you’d do it, all would, because we are a team. But what happens when the mission ends and its time to return home and transition to life as a civilian? Life after war should be a far simpler mission, but for far too many US military veterans, it is one they are poorly equipped to deal with. Adjusting to the rhythm of civilian life becomes a daily challenge because it now lacks purpose and those unique skills acquired and honed on the battlefield are not in demand here. For many, this can lead to depression and addiction to alcohol and drugs.

Beautiful image of a young boy and girl (possibly brother and sister) with big smiles

Supporting African children through sponsorship and fund raising Primarily Uganda, the majority of the children live in the village of Kisoro

Each of our health clubs and spas sponsor a child through the Compassion Charity’s sponsorship programme. Compassion UK is a Christian Charity which helps children aged between 3 years and 22 years break free from the cycle of poverty. We currently sponsor 30 children and this funding helps with education, health care, hygiene training and the provision of food. In addition, our clubs and spas fund raise for the communities where our sponsored children live. We have provided financial support of more than £100,000 over a nine year period as well as the time of our staff teams. In 2006, three of our staff team visited Uganda for four days to meet some of our sponsored children and to see a play area in their community which our staff and customers had raised funds for.

by Fitness Express Health Clubs & Imagine Spas


InstructAbility – Engaging disabled people in the UK fitness industry Across England

InstructAbility, currently funded by Sport England, provides disabled people with gym instructor training and qualifications followed by a voluntary industry work placement where they work to encourage more disabled people in the local community to participate in fitness and exercise sessions. The wider aim of the project is to contribute positively to social change by challenging the negative perceptions of disabled people in society.