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A New Role for Cristiano Ronaldo: Crunch Fitness Franchisee 

Real Madrid star forward Cristiano Ronaldo is adding a new role to his resume—health club franchisee.

As one of Crunch Fitness’ newest regional franchisees, the soccer phenomenon intends to transform his new signature initiative—CR7 Crunch Fitness—into a winning brand in Spain and Portugal.

Club Business International spoke to Ronaldo—one of the world’s highest-paid and most popular athletes—about his new franchise, “workaholic” tendencies, and “Live Life Fit” philosophy.

CBI: In 2014, a sports research firm named you the “most marketable soccer player in the world,” and, last year, ESPN named you the “most famous athlete on the planet.” What do you think your celebrity status can do for the CR7 Crunch Fitness brand?

CRISTIANO RONALDO: I’m very excited about this CR7 Fitness Club venture with Crunch Fitness. We’re able to offer great health and fitness services to everyone at a reasonable price, and members can use the same fitness equipment that I use. Hopefully, my celebrity status will motivate more and more people to pursue an active life with healthy habits.

CBI: How, exactly, did your involvement with Crunch Fitness come about? What did the process entail?

CR: To be honest, my team and I had been looking into fitness clubs for a while. So, when this proposal was presented to me, I was very excited. It was a natural fit for both Crunch and myself. To add: we’re always open to new and interesting opportunities, and this one definitely made sense, and provided much more value for me, Crunch, and the clubs, themselves—CR7 Crunch Fitness.

CBI: In addition to being a star player with Real Madrid, you’ve also been described as “a business-minded workaholic.” How do you go about assessing business opportunities that are presented to you?

CR: My main focus is obviously my football-playing career, but my team and I like to discuss the business opportunities that come to us or that we actively seek.

CBI: What about the CR7 Crunch Fitness franchising opportunity appealed to you? What about the business’ dynamics met your criteria for becoming the master franchisee for Spain?

CR: This partnership made sense in a lot of ways: first, because it combines Crunch’s “No Judgments” philosophy with my own “Live Life Fit” attitude, and takes this fusion of trademarked fitness and professional athletics to a global level. On the other hand, it also was an excellent franchise opportunity for the Spanish fitness market, given the unique offering that our gyms represent—top-class clubs that everyone can afford.

CBI: You recently opened the first CR7 Crunch Fitness facility in Alcala, Madrid. Tell us what that day was like.

CR: I had a great time. We did a little master-class with clients who’d won a contest we’d conducted, and were joined by journalists who were covering the event. It was a really relaxed and good-vibes event—just like we want our gyms to be.

CBI: Tell us also, if you would, what that club is like, how it’s equipped, and what sorts of programs it offers.

CR: Members will experience cutting-edge equipment, a full roster of innovative group fitness programming, the opportunity to work with expert personal trainers for one-on-one and small-group sessions, nutrition guidance, and appealing amenities, such as full-service locker rooms.

CBI: What sort of a system have you developed to manage all of your business interests? How many people are involved? How, basically, does this organization function?

CR: There aren’t that many people interacting directly with me. I have my direct team, and my marketing team, who work on all my projects, and then there are people who work on the specific projects. There are a lot of people working on all of my projects—around the clock, and around the world. It seems to work for me and my associates.

CBI: In addition to CR7 Crunch Fitness, what are some of the other well-known brands that you’re currently involved with? Is CR7 Crunch Fitness your first foray into franchising?

CR: I’m fortunate to work with and represent top-class brands, such as Nike, with whom I’ve just entered into a long-term relationship. To add to my endorsement deals, I’m also working on my personal CR7 brands, such as Cristiano Ronaldo Fragrances, CR7 Underwear, CR7 Footwear, a chain of hotels, and, most recently, a CR7 Denim line that I’ll be introducing this month!

CBI: What goals have you set for CR7 Crunch Fitness in Spain? Will you own and operate some of the clubs? How many franchised facilities do you hope to have open within the next five years?

CR: The operation of the clubs is in Crunch’s good hands. For the moment, we have two gyms in Madrid, but we intend to expand in Spain and Portugal.

CBI: Have any of your teammates expressed an interest in acquiring a franchise? Any interest in fran- chising beyond Spain? How about, for instance, a CR7 Crunch Fitness in your hometown of Madeira?

CR: As I said before, expanding to other cities in Spain and Portugal is our primary goal. When I’m with my teammates, though, we essentially talk about football and what we need to do to win the trophies that we and our fans want.

CBI: Professional sports teams in several countries—Brazil and Japan, for example—have included public health clubs in their stadiums. Any possibility of a CR7 Crunch Fitness in Real Madrid’s new $429.5-million stadium?

CR: Only the President of Real Madrid can answer that question, but I’d certainly be in favor if it were possible.

CBI: What sort of an impact do you hope your clubs will have, in general, on the health and fitness of the Spanish population?

CR: I can’t expect to change everything, from one day to another, but big changes start with one person. My objective is to get more and more people to understand the importance of healthy habits, such as eating well, practicing some kind of sport, or going to a gym. I really believe, and practice, the principles of Live Life Fit, so I hope to be an example to others, no matter their age or what they do.

CBI: Could you describe what exercise means to you, personally, and what your ultimate goal is with respect to your physical development? Or have you already achieved it?

CR: The ultimate goal is never achieved. Life is a continuous chal- lenge in so many ways, and that’s very interesting. For the youngest, the goal is one thing, for the not-so-young the goal may be something different, but the results can be equally rewarding. For me, I try to remain at top level because that’s very important to my profession. I need to be 100% fit, and I take it very seriously. But exercise can, and also should, be fun and a leisure activity. The secret is to combine both your own personal tastes and the objectives you’ve set for yourself.

CBI: Can you provide a brief description of what sorts of things your regular workout involves? And please refute the rumor that you’ve been known to do 3,000 sit-ups!

CR: I have a balanced routine, which has several variations, depending on what I need or want at a certain point in time. As for the sit-ups, I told the reporters at the launching of the CR7 Crunch Fitness that statement isn’t true—not even close to those figures!

CBI: You’re a devoted father to your son, Cristiano, Jr., or “Cristianinho,” who turns seven this month, and have contributed time, energy, and money to schools in Gaza, the Save the Children organization, and other groups working with kids. What role do you see CR7 Crunch Fitness playing with respect to children?

CR: CR7 Crunch Fitness meets the needs of everyone. Children are normally active by nature. They always want to play and run around, so they’re very active as part of growing up. CR7 Crunch Fitness is a great way for both children and adults to stay fit and remain healthy. There’s always room for a more organized way to exercise

CBI: The Portugal national team, for which you also play, looks like it’s well on its way to taking part in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. What are your thoughts on its prospects? What is it going to take on the team’s part to get to the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow?

CR: We’re second in our group, behind Switzerland, but we’re only in the first of the groups qualifying, so there’s still a lot to do to qualify for the World Cup. We have to win all of our games until the end of the qualification, and we know it’s not going to be easy.

CBI: Finally: In 2014, Time magazine named you one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and we understand that you’ve got two presidential connections—your father named you “Ronaldo” after Ronald Reagan, his favorite actor, and it’s been reported you own a loft in Trump Tower in New York City. Long term—any political ambitions?

CR: It’s true that I was named after Ronald Reagan, because my parents admired him, but it’s not true that
 I own a loft in Trump Tower—that’s a classic example of fake news. I’m not much into politics, so I don’t see myself running for a political post in the future.