Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gold's Gym Works to Finesse Its Business Image; It's Downplaying 'Feel the Burn' and Focusing on Fitness for Everyone

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gold's Gym Works to Finesse Its Business Image; It's Downplaying 'Feel the Burn' and Focusing on Fitness for Everyone

Article excerpt

Byline: ALISON TRINIDAD

In a market flush with competitors, Gold's Gym is working hard to swap the musclehead image on which its brand was built for one that's more flab friendly.

It makes business sense because the average Joes of the world easily outnumber body builders, right?

"Getting people through the front door is the hardest thing," said Lee Kaplan, chief executive of the Gold's Gym franchise in Northeast Florida. "It's intimidating."

Kaplan and his brother, Jay, are doing their part to tap into the fitness-for-everybody mentality. They've added women-only workout areas, tanning booths, kids clubs, public art galleries and free wireless Internet access between their two gyms in Jacksonville. And they have plans to open a third location by the first quarter of 2008.

"The demographics and the markets have changed. We're trying to lift our business to the next level. Location and customer service - that's what the fitness business is," Lee Kaplan said.

To be sure, the Kaplans' typical client is more likely to be a granny urbanite or student suburbanite than the burly Lou and Ahh-nold types of Pumping Iron repute.

But they get those, too.

"Clubs ... are more of a gathering area," said Jay Kaplan, chief operating officer. "Of course, we still are going to get the people who are into serious fitness - that's what our brand was built on."

Brand recognition is important, especially in a field that includes Bailey's Powerhouse Gym, Bally Total Fitness, Lifestyle Family Fitness and World Gym. That doesn't take into account nonprofits like the YMCA.

More important, however, is personal attention. Lee Kaplan said the focus at Gold's is retaining members, and not shackling them to a long-term contract.

"We do everything we can to get you to use your membership," he said. …

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