Introduction to Japan of Curves, the world’s largest fitness club for women
Discovering Curves in the USA and introducing it to the Japanese market was my first achievement with a big success since the establishment of Murata Associates Inc. In March, 2003, described Curves for the first time in Japan in my column in Leisure Industry Data, a monthly magazine published by Sogo-Unicom Co. Ltd., and also in Business Data, a monthly magazine published by Nihon Jitsugyo Publishing.
At the same time, I kept talking about Curves in my speeches, and I had good responses every time. It finally caught fire in 2004 when I wrote about it in my book, Senior Business: Ten Successful Strategies for A Diverse Market published by Diamond Inc., followed by the cover story in August 2004 issue of Leisure Industry Data and the photo gravure titled as “Learn from the American Models - Successful Ideas for Boomer Business” in September 2004 issue of Dentsu Advertising.
Curves in Japan
However, there was skepticism about the feasibility of Curves in Japan at the time. I received quite a few comments of doubt and criticism: “Don’t you think that showers are necessary in Japan at least, since it is humid here and the Japanese ladies like to keep themselves clean?” “I can’t believe that you can burn your body fat with just half an hour’s exercise.” To such comments, I would always answer as follows:
Nobody knows whether Curves will be a success in Japan or not, though it has shown remarkable growth in the USA and Europe. Besides, the key to the success is not the concept itself, but the ability of the entrepreneur who develops it. It is more important to take one step forward as a pioneer than to criticize the pioneers and their projects. (Senior Business: Ten Successful Strategies for A Diverse Market)
It is said that the law of probability for a successful new business is “3 in 100”, which means that only 3 businesses will turn out to be a success out of 100 projects. Most projects do not go well. That is the fact. Over the past 24 years I have been working on to raise this probability by making efforts of originality and ingenuity.
“Is this going to work?” – This is a comment of an onlooker, who is not involved with the project. The project planner would not say such a thing. Instead, he would always act with a strong will, after careful examinations how to make it happen.
Quite a few enterprises, including some big names, contacted me or Curves International in the USA. Finally, Venture Link Co. Ltd. acquired the master franchise right for Curves in the Japanese market. Then, Curves Japan Co., Ltd. was founded in Feb. 2005.
As of Jan. 2011, Curves Japan has become the largest fitness franchise chain in Japan with 941 branches nationwide, serving more than 350,000 members. I have been involved with the development of the Curves business in Japan as an advisor from the very beginning.