By David Pearson
Richard Giorla is betting that people will still want to be healthy and active during a deepening recession. His Cardio Barre studios offer a workout that combines a ballet warmup with aerobic exercise, focusing on routines that minimize injury risk.
Participants work out at a ballet barre, performing moves like those used by dancers to build strength and flexibility, but at a fast pace that keeps the heart pumping.
The former professional dancer - he trained in ballet and worked for Michael Jackson and at Chippendales - said he had sold five franchises at $30,000 apiece and agreed to collect a weekly 8% royalty fee. He said he had 30 perspective franchisees but wanted to limit growth for fear of overextending the brand.
Giorla selected the five applicants who appeared the most financially sound and supportive of his workout program. One received a loan up to $250,000 through the federal Small Business Administration to get started.
"I have buddies who are dying in this economy," Giorla said from his original Studio City branch. "One is selling watches. The last thing people need now is a luxury item. But my class is $16 for one hour. It's a great stress relief during this time."