As 2015 came to a close, thousands of people gathered in New York’s Times Square to celebrate the passing of yet another calendar year. When the clock struck midnight, some took a moment to make a promise, pledging to learn new hobbies, travel more, lose 15 pounds or get organized. For many, a new year represented an opportunity to accomplish a number of great things, with reinvestment or reinvention in mind.
This new year, 24 Hour Fitness has also made a promise to reinvent itself for the better. In January 2016, the company announced a brand redesign that debuts 24 Hour Fitness as a lifestyle and media company, taking its member experience far beyond what has been known of the storied company, founded in 1983. As part of the brand relaunch, led by Mark Smith, CEO, and Frank Napolitano, president, 24 Hour Fitness has executed a number of key programs and initiatives that will help it connect with members in new ways, both inside and outside the club. It has also bolstered its executive leadership team with a number of important additions.
According to Smith, the bones of 24 Hour Fitness are still there after the brand relaunch. The company has just received a face lift. “What 24 Hour Fitness represented is a very sizeable business with good critical mass,” he said, thinking back to his decision to join as CEO. “The brand that has been built up over history is very, very strong. It is a fantastic opportunity to take something that’s a very good base and build upon it.”
The brand relaunch spanned all of 24 Hour Fitness’ nearly 450 locations, heavily concentrated in California, Texas, Colorado and the East Coast. As members enter any of these clubs in 2016, they can expect to experience a number of enhancements that will transform the way they consume and interact with 24 Hour Fitness as a brand.
Key Enhancement: Leadership
According to Napolitano, one of the most significant changes to 24 Hour Fitness is its leadership. When he and Smith joined the company, it already had a well-established executive group. “Our goal was to make as few changes as possible, but to make some really key additions, and I believe we’ve largely been successful in that,” he said.
One of those key additions included Lashaun Dale, who serves as vice president of content and programming for 24 Hour Fitness. Previously with Equinox, Dale joined 24 Hour Fitness in August 2014 to bring innovation to the Group X and programming side of the business.
“We have over 6,000 Group X instructors working with us, and when you have someone of that caliber, [like Lashaun Dale], come along and bring their ideas for programs — those are all things 24 Hour Fitness had not had exposure to over the last six to eight years,” said Smith. “It’s created a lot of excitement within the business.”
Richard Boyd, who serves as senior vice president of fitness and strategic initiatives for 24 Hour Fitness, is another key addition to the leadership group. The founder of PTontheNet and a number of other successful fitness-focused businesses, Boyd has been integral in spearheading a number of key improvements to 24 Hour Fitness’ training programs.
“With Richard coming here, Bobby Cappuccio also came along, whose title is director of training, and he’s very well known on the fitness side of the business,” continued Smith. “The 4,000 trainers that we have, they know those names well.”
However, in addition to bringing on key team members, employee development will also be a priority for 24 Hour Fitness in 2016. “The other thing we’ve been really focused on is the team member personal development, as well as the development of their skills training,” said Napolitano. “It’s something that the company had lacked historically, and we’ve put a lot of effort into that.”
According to Napolitano, these efforts will be of great benefit to the members. “The net result is members or potential members walking in the door now are going to get a lot more connection with both our team members and what we’re offering in the facility, because of the way [staff is] being trained around relationship-based selling,” he said.
Key Enhancement: Programming
One of the things that hasn’t changed in 2016 for 24 Hour Fitness is its commitment to programming. However, the programming itself has been given a clearer vision.
The brand’s new offerings are centered around four lifestyle pillars the company believes are key to members getting the most out of their workouts, whether it’s through group exercise, small group, one-on-one training or self-prescribed workouts. The four pillars are the foundation to a healthy, happy and fit lifestyle and include movement, mindset, nutrition and regeneration, all of which complement each other to provide members with a holistic and well-rounded approach to health and fitness.
“We did a lot of research to find that people come to our clubs to usually work on something that is more relevant in their life,” said Boyd. “So, whether they like to ski on weekends, whether they want to play with their kids, whether their doctors send them here based on health goals, really what we’re trying to do is correlate our programming so that we map to that story.”
The programming and four pillars philosophy takes into account all aspects of a 24 Hour Fitness members’ lifestyle, “in the gym and outside the gym,” continued Boyd. “It’s really their 24Life: 24 Hour Fitness’ solution to total health. 24Life, for us, is really how we explain the whole, entire story. It wraps into really everything.”
For example, many of 24 Hour Fitness’ new programs tie-into everyday activities, such as the TC24 Golf program, which will help members improve their golfing skills, or TC24 Snow, a program designed to aid members in skiing and snowboarding.
“One of the top-level things to understand is that we have to meet members, and just in general, humans, where they’re at,” said Dale. “So we take the time and make sure we’re really understanding what our members need, to see how it all works together.”
To accomplish this mission, Dale “follows the science,” using her background in public health and anthropology to research new and innovative programming. “I read studies, I understand statistics,” she said. “I can read what’s behind a study and where the science is trending, and that’s where I tend to look. You’ll notice that fitness even follows politics, like how social movements can be proliferated in the world and impact the tone of everything in culture. I stay in touch with all of that and just map out where we need to be in a few years in parallel with what our members and instructors truly want and need along the way.”
Key Enhancement: Media and Events
To further its mission to be a holistic lifestyle brand for members, media is also a major component for the newly-rejuvenated 24 Hour Fitness. The company has invested in a number of media channels, including the 24Life digital magazine, 24Life TV, 24Life Music (the digital music channel), in addition to its website, blogs and social media.
Leading this charge is Tom Lapcevic, the executive vice president of legal and marketing for 24 Hour Fitness. “What we’re really focusing on from a media, marketing and experiential perspective is, how do we transform 24 Hour Fitness into a lifestyle company, and as a part of that, how do we become a media company so that we can help engage, entertain, educate and motivate our members?,” he said.
Concerning the experiential, in 2016, 24 Hour Fitness has invested in 60 events that will allow it to create exciting out-of-club experiences, including 5K runs and obstacle course races. “It’s a great way to engage not just our members, but communities we service, and present fun, active-lifestyle events that really engage the community and bring a healthy lifestyle to those local communities,” explained Lapcevic.
Enhancements to the brand, like experiential events, would not be possible with the company’s leadership. “It starts with Mark Smith and Frank Napolitano,” said Lapcevic. “They’re here for all the right reasons. There’s just an uncompromised commitment to help in any way we can, to allow our members to become the best versions of themselves. And that commitment starts from the top and goes all the way down to our team members inside each facility. We really have a unified commitment and it’s a mission that we are absolutely set on accomplishing.”
For Smith and Napolitano, commitment to the storied brand is a no-brainer. The enhancements that have been executed in 2016 only improve upon what was already a well-respected and successful company in the health and fitness industry.
“[The relaunch] is really bringing us back to the personal level and the community level and it will be a great representation of what 24 Hour Fitness is all about,” said Smith. “We know we can do great things. We’re very excited about the platform that we have to build on.”
These enhancements touch on a few of the changes 24 Hour Fitness has made as it enters 2016. Beyond, 24 Hour Fitness will continue to mold into an even greater media and lifestyle company for its members, team members and investors.
“We’re excited about the prospect of really enriching the experience people have, whether they’re on a piece of cardio, in the Group X room, or even training on the weight floor,” said Napolitano.