If you have been involved in the fitness industry for awhile, you may have noticed a decrease in some of the big name gyms on the scene. Areas that were once dominated by iconic brands such as Gold’s Gym, World Gym, and others are now saturated with multi purpose facilities, or specialized training clubs. Newer brands have come onto the scene to join some of the long established names and national brands. The gym/health club landscape has changed and expanded. Some think that the days of the name brand gym is over. Truthfully, although the names may be different, the facilities themselves have simply evolved to a new level.
Once, there were a limited number of people who were involved in fitness. If you wanted to be successful as a gym owner, you needed to make sure that you attracted the lions share of those members into your club. Having a well established name like Gold’s Gym gave you an advantage over say, Pete’s Place. It was a recognizable promise of quality and familiarity, and gave a level of assurance to the members and the owners that the gym would be successful and in business for awhile. This type of branding, marketing, and franchising helped catapult and grow the fitness industry to huge proportions. An almost uncountable number of both members and dollars moved through those doors over a 40 year period. A lot of companies made a whole lot of money.
Today marks a new age. With so many people interested in working out, location and quality of equipment will most often mean more than the name above the door. Of course there will always be exceptions to this. If you’re a serious Crossfit athlete with aspirations of competing in the open, then you may want an official affiliate “box” to train it. If your focus is to prepare for obstacle courses, specialized athletic performance training, or a Ninja Warrior type competition, the gym you choose should be able to accommodate those needs in terms of both equipment and instruction. But for most general fitness needs, the new breed of gym focuses on a wide enough variety of equipment to accommodate the masses. The weight and resistance training options at those gyms can now rival the best equipped “hardcore” gyms of the past. Many have been expanded to include sauna’s, swimming pools, basketball courts, MMA equipment, indoor tracks, or any combination of modern training options. As the member base has increased so has the need for more gyms and more options.
The hardcore gyms are not gone. There are still a large number of the iconic name brand gyms doing well. But the “need” for those names has somewhat lessened with a larger market of fitness enthusiast. Some former Gold’s Gyms for example simply renamed, changing little else, and still found great success. Others expanded upon the concept to include amenities that would attract a broader crowd while still keeping the most hardcore members happy. The iconic name brands helped put serious fitness on the map and helped push it to a popular level. Now that fitness has become more mainstream, the expanded, face-lifted look of the new breed of clubs is more of an evolution than a replacement. The hardcore legacy and spirt still exists and thrives as long as the people walking through the doors bring with them the drive to push and improve and make themselves unique. The past should not be mourned, but celebrated as it leads us into a new future!
Photo: Terry Goodlad