fit20 Away from the Crowd

Boutique fitness studio fit20 ready for big business

When you go in there the whole studio is for you or you and a partner’s actual personal training. Now, after COVID, we’re ready for the future with this model.”

When gyms reopened earlier this summer after months of being shut down, things looked a lot different — plastic shields at counters, machines blocked or spread apart and lots of reminders about masks and physical distancing.

But one fitness business, with its U.S. operations based in Stafford, was a bit more prepared for the new need for social distancing while working out. Boutique fitness company fit20 USA, with a studio at Aquia Park, offers 20-minute one-on-one sessions with personal trainers. There’s no shower or changing area because routines are low-impact.

The growing business has a second Virginia location at Cosner’s Corner in Fredericksburg and is preparing to open a new studio and offices at Liberty Place in downtown Fredericksburg in September.

“We have a beautiful place,” CEO Aqil Radjab told Stafford Magazine regarding the new site. “We’re not only going to use it as a fit20 studio, we’re going to use it as a flagship to demonstrate what a fit20 studio could look like for franchising throughout the U.S.”

Originally based in the Netherlands, fit20 came to the U.S. in 2018, with its first studio in Michigan.

“It worked out really good, and we noticed there was potential for this in the U.S.,” Radjab said. “That’s why we started the two studios here.”

Stafford became the headquarters for fit20 USA because it was the home of Ben Litalien, the company’s chief development officer.


Openings of new studios in Utah and Kansas City were put on hold because of COVID-19. The Stafford area’s two local fit20 studios had to close for around two months, but they reopened in May.

As traditional gyms struggled to adjust their layout and capacity to fit new physical distancing requirements, fit20 was already settled into the model of limiting customers. “Our studios are by invitation only to our members, and our approach is one trainer with only one or two members at a time,” said Tony Plath, manager of the Aquia Park studio. “Using social distancing, disinfecting our equipment between uses, and wearing masks creates an even safer environment for members to work out during this pandemic."

The fit20 concept is different because its members meet weekly with a personal trainer for an “intense slow-motion resistance training session.” A circuit of specialized strength training machines are used to create a full body workout that increases strength and vitality.

Michele Price, general manager of Prince William Marina and a member of the fit20 Aquia Park studio, said she is glad to be exercising again. “I hated missing my weekly workouts and am delighted to be back in the studio with my personal trainer,” she said. “The fit20 approach continues to be a safe, effective way for me to stay fit.”

The elements of the fit20 training approach include:

  • sessions are always with a personal trainer and by appointment exercise without changing clothes or showering in a climate-controlled environment
  • no distracting music, mirrors or group workouts
  • only 20 minutes per week to achieve maximum results

  • “We want it to be your moment,” Radjab said. “When you go in there the whole studio is for you or you and a partner ... it’s actual personal training. Now, after COVID, we’re ready for the future with this model.”

    The company offers a Free Introductory Training or “FIT” to demonstrate the fit20 training methodology. They’re used to skeptics.

    “To be honest, most of us who work here are the skeptical ones, including myself. We come from the training world, and this is such a disruptive training, that it can be hard to wrap your head around it. The proof is in the pudding,” Radjab said. “We even have a skeptical month. In April, we invite every member to bring their most skeptical relationship to come for a ‘FIT.’ We actually sign up quite a few people then.”

    The company has big plans for the next few years, Radjab said.

    “In the Netherlands, we have 125 studios,” he said. “The U.S. is 30 times bigger, so I think it’s possible to build thousands of these studios throughout the U.S. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

    By Greg Hambrick

    Stafford Magazine August/September 2020