Fitness firm Speedflex could ultimately open up 100 centres throughout the UK, while also expanding into other countries.
The Newcastle-headquartered company, launched in 2012 by Sage founder Graham Wylie and Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer, will see new centres open in Dubai, Dallas and Leeds in 2014.
Deals have also been signed with licensees in Dublin, Durham, Richmond and Leatherhead and it is expected appropriate premises will be found the coming months.
Speedlflex is built around revolutionary fitness machines initially pioneered to help brain trauma and stroke patients in their rehabilitation.
Invented by a team at a hospital in North Carolina, America, the Speedflex machines work through a “free motion board”, which returns force put in by the person exercising on it, meaning anyone can use them regardless of age or ability.
Keen to bring the pioneering machines to a wider audience, Wylie and Shearer opened the first Speedflex centre last year in Jesmond, Newcastle, enlisting celebrity ambassadors including Sky Sports presenter and TV personality Ben Shephard and former Newcastle United player Rob Lee, with plans to expand around the UK and beyond. Former Newcastle United player and physio Paul Ferris, meanwhile, was brought in as managing director.
Currently, those interested in taking on Speedflex centres buy a license for the particular territory and receive training. Speedflex then receives a cut of the income.
This week, Wylie, who owns the European rights for the product, said: “It’s very exciting. I think we could easily have up to 100 of these centres in the UK, and we could have something all across Europe. There’s no reason why we couldn’t expand into other countries, but we wouldn’t do that ourselves; we find a master licensee for that country.”
He added that the machine “sells itself” as it can burn between 800 and 1,500 calories in a 45 minute session without causing muscle or joint soreness.
Personal trainers are employed at the centres and users monitor their heartrates throughout. Success stories have flourished from the Tyneside centre, where paralympian and cerebral palsy sufferer Stephen Miller used the machine as part of his rehabilitation and took his first steps in years after a hip operation, and regular clients reported losing as much as five stone in weight in 10 months.
Wylie, who has invested several million pounds in getting Speedflex off the ground, said he was confident in the potential for success at the company, but it was too early to comment on financial targets.