Recently I was contacted by the Dallas Business Journal who were working on a Gold’s Gym article. These were my observations of the Gold’s brand:
What are Gold’s Gym’s strengths in the U.S. and international fitness industries?
Ray Algar: You have to admire its longevity given the reaching of its recent 50-year milestone. There are very few heritage health club brands that have been able to successfully navigate and remain a relevant part of a fitness industry that has dramatically changed since Gold’s Gym was founded in 1965.
Internationally, many other legacy health club chains have failed to anticipate changing consumer preferences and consequently have been side-swiped by new entrants. Therefore the enduring appeal of Gold’s at a domestic and international level is to be admired.
What are its weaknesses?
Ray Algar: I believe that health fitness brands need to be extremely clear on their core brand story. A key part of the Gold’s Gym story is that it claims to provide a ‘supportive environment’ and yet back in 2011 it created Gold’s Gym Express, a low-cost sub-brand. Low-cost gym offerings are by their nature driven by self-service and therefore offer an unsupported member experience. It is strategic moves like this that can potentially create inconsistencies in the brand story.
What is it doing, and what does it need to do, to compete with other big-box gyms like Lifetime Fitness and Planet Fitness?
Ray Algar: Fundamentally the health club industry is bifurcating along two distinct strategic pathways that I define as “self-service’ and ‘supported’. So I see Planet Fitness, for example, very clearly pursuing the self-service pathway, democratising fitness with its $10 monthly membership fees. However, there are many consumers that want an experience that is more nurturing and supportive, which is the path that Gold’s Gym is pursuing. Things, however, can get quickly become confused if senior leadership believe they can excel at both.
What is it doing, and what does it need to do, to compete with boutique fitness concepts that are becoming more popular?
Ray Algar: The leadership tendency when a new fitness trend emerges is to assume you need to follow and copy it. So now we see Gold’s Gym beginning to embed pay-per-class boutique studios called GOLD’S STUDIO into their clubs. I am to be persuaded that asking existing Gold’s Gym members to pay an additional $20 for a 60-minute class is the best strategic move. With membership fees that can already be four times more expensive than a low-cost offering, perhaps Gold’s Gym should instead invest in refining and enhancing the existing member experience and double-down on nurturing its community of staff.