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Adam Zeitsiff, CEO and president of Gold’s Gym, talks with Global Franchise about how the ubiquitous fitness franchise is dealing with the current global health crisis, and how the brand will bounce back from challenging times.
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GF: Once corporate-owned locations open again, what precautions is Gold’s Gym going to take to ensure the safety of staff and guests?
AZ: In the time leading up to the re-opening of our gyms and continuing thereafter, cleanliness is key. We undertook an additional deep clean of our company-owned gyms after they closed on March 16, and we plan to partner with an outside company for another thorough deep clean of the gyms prior to re-opening.
We will continue to utilize non-toxic, medical-grade cleaning solutions to ensure consistent upkeep and sanitation of our company-owned facilities, both throughout the day and with extra deep cleans at night. We will ensure all of our gyms are fully stocked with hand sanitizer and equipment wipes, and our staff will continue with the rigorous, extra team cleans for equipment and surfaces that were added before our gyms closed. And while the methods vary across our network, our franchisees are also putting in place extra precautions to ensure gym cleanliness when the time comes for them to open their doors again.
GF: Are there any industry-wide ramifications that you anticipate as a result of COVID-19 disruption?
AZ: When fitness centers begin re-opening worldwide, we anticipate gym traffic will be gradual as people get more comfortable being back in public settings. Additionally, social distancing practices will likely continue to be the norm for some time, primarily affecting group fitness and studio classes, as members will be more aware of the physical space between them.
Nonetheless, as people continue to turn to fitness as a way to stay active and healthy, we are confident that things will return to normal for brick-and-mortar gyms. We also anticipate that people will want to continue to keep digital fitness as part of their regular routine if they’ve adopted it as a habit during closures.
GF: What kind of impact on the brand has the Gold’s Gym application had, and do you see its free availability bringing in new members once all locations open again?
AZ: The opening up of GOLD’S AMP for free to the public-at-large during this health crisis has been beneficial to the purpose of keeping people active and healthy where they are most comfortable. Most importantly, it’s given people a way to benefit from the Gold’s Gym fitness experience in the safety of their own homes. We’ve found ourselves interacting with a much larger audience in the United States, with a 271 per cent increase in downloads since we launched for free the week of March 16.
Expanding the app’s availability has helped us continue to build trust between our customer base and the brand, as our consumers recognize that our top priority right now is our mission of helping people achieve their potential through fitness whether they’re in the gym or in their own living rooms. Our franchisees are grateful knowing that their loyal members can still benefit from Gold’s Gym during this time, even if they can’t physically visit their home gym.
We’re also seeing a great response to our on-demand Gold’s Gym Anywhere workout videos, which are available online for free worldwide. Our franchisees across our network are really stepping up to contribute content and workouts to this platform, from California and New York to Jordan, Morocco, Australia and more. The global reach of Gold’s Gym Anywhere is something unlike anything else we’re seeing in the fitness industry right now. A user in the U.S. can do a workout led by a team of trained professionals in Egypt, or vice versa, with what we like to refer to as “workouts from around the world to unite the world.”
GF: What kind of trends will impact the fitness industry over the next few years?
AZ: More than ever, I expect we will see an even larger push for digital fitness in ways that tie back to our brick-and-mortar locations. The physical gym locations will maintain their value due to the fact that they offer in-person motivation and state-of-the-art equipment and classes to achieve one’s fitness goals in ways that cannot be matched digitally. But consumers will appreciate the added option of accessing their workouts online when physically getting into the gym isn’t an option. As a result, more and more fitness brands will look to combine in-gym and digital experiences for their members.
GF: Beyond forced closures, would you say that international crises such as coronavirus heavily impact the fitness industry, or is it largely immune?
AZ: The fitness industry has been heavily impacted by these recent events. For most fitness brands, the core of our business lies in delivering a service to people within the four walls of our gyms, and under the current circumstances, that just isn’t an option. But even if our gyms can’t operate as usual, fitness remains an incredibly important part of people’s lives – perhaps more important than ever so people can maintain healthy immune systems to ward off potential health issues.
As this situation evolves and beyond, people will continue leaning on fitness as an outlet for physical and mental wellness during uncertain times. It’s crucial as an industry that we continue innovating to be a consistent resource for fitness consumers, turning to digital fitness options and more to help people maintain healthy lifestyles wherever they may be.
GF: As a franchisor, how have you been communicating with your franchise network during the pandemic and how are you supporting franchisees?
AZ: Communication has been constant. We’re sending multiple email updates throughout the week; our franchise support team is leading daily calls with franchise owners; we’re holding webinars to review stimulus packages and provide guidance for how our franchisees can secure financial support; and we’re collaborating on regular conference calls between our executive team and our franchise advisory councils.
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