Initial investments for full-service fitness franchises can top $1 million compared with a convenience-type franchise initial investment that is more likely to be in the range of $250,000, says Paul Segreto, president and CEO of franchisEssentials.

However, investment alone shouldn't be the reason to choose a fitness franchise. Prospective franchisees should also have a thorough grasp of the company's franchise disclosure document or FDD.

Another way to establish the soundness of a franchise is by looking at data measuring loan repayments.

To go directly to fitness franchise profile pages:

Click here for Planet Fitness.

Click here for Retro Fitness.

Click here for Snap Fitness.

Click here for Title Boxing Club.

Click here for Anytime Fitness.

According to an analysis of Small Business Administration loans by Blue MauMau, a website for news and information related to franchise ownership, several fitness franchises ranked better than other franchise owners when it came to failure rates for SBA-backed small business loans. The data measures loans from Oct. 1, 2001 to Sept. 30, 2011.

Planet Fitness franchisees with SBA loans seem to be among the best performing loans, according to the data. Of the 37 loans worth $18 million made by Planet Fitness franchisees, there has been a 0% failure rate amongst the loan repayments.

The fitness franchise with next lowest loan failure rate was Anytime Fitness. The data says 7.83% of the gym's 217 SBA loans worth $39 million failed. SNAP Fitness had an 11.2% failure rate across 107 SBA loans worth $16 million.

Don Sniegowski, BlueMauMau's founder, says another thing to consider when searching for a franchise is if there are company-owned units.

"They need to have skin in the game," he says. If they don't, "they're removed from that end customer."

Here are five fitness franchises worth checking out.

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