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Your Competitive Advantage


What is your competitive advantage? What differentiates you from the competition? With low-cost facilities growing in popularity, they are turning fitness into a commodity. They are creating a perception that all health clubs are the same, providing a building full of equipment with little staff or services — so why pay more? If you are a health club trying to compete with a low-cost gym, answer this question — “Why should I join your fitness center versus the lower cost one?” Now ask your staff that same question. Most companies don’t have a consistent answer to this question. Without a consistent response to this question that everyone in your organization can recite, then you will continue to miss out on prospects who see price as the only differentiator.

The most important part of coming up with the response is to first begin with the “Why” of your organization. As Simon Sinek says in his book, “Start with Why,” every organization knows WHAT they do and some even know HOW they do it, but very few know WHY they do what they do. For GHF, we clearly know the deeper why behind everything we do as a company. For instance, we have a membership of over 27,000 people built mainly around the fact that we have circuit lines with floor instructors at no extra charge. But that is the “What we do” and the “How we do it.”  The “Why” behind our circuit lines is that when the owner, Joe Cirulli, took over his first club, he looked around and wondered, “What would happen if my parents walked into a health club?” He realized that they wouldn’t have a clue what to do.

The facility was set up with machines based on muscle groups. He decided to put machines in order from largest muscle groups to smaller muscle groups, so they could simply begin at the front of the line and workout to the end. He then would hire floor instructors to help with the initial set up of the machines, explain how the machines works, coach on proper form, and push people to get maximum results.  By having a deeper WHY, we were able to open up fitness to a whole new market — non-exercisers who felt uncomfortable walking into a health club because they felt dumb.

One great advantage we have over low-cost facilities is that they are the best they will ever be the day they open. They will only get worse, as the business model does not support re-investment. GHF started over 35 years ago as a 4,500-square-foot gym with just a few pieces of equipment, and three employees. After multiple expansions and over 35 million dollars of re-investment, we have three clubs totaling over 130,000 square feet, thousands of pieces of equipment and over 500 employees.

Here is the GHF answer to the question, “Why should I join your fitness center versus the lower cost one?”

“If you’re the kind of person who in 6 months wants to be better than you are today, and you want to be part of an organization that will be better in 6 months than it is today, then Gainesville Health and Fitness is the place for you.”

Competitive advantages only Gainesville Health & Fitness offers:


  • 500 people on staff to address your fitness needs
  • Fitness instructors available to help you, at no extra charge


Gainesville Health & Fitness offers the most extensive specialty programming to include the only:

  • Core Spinal Fitness Program
  • Arthritis & Aquatic Center
  • Personal training program with over 40 nationally certified trainers
  • Babysitting service open 7 days a week, at no extra charge
  • Outpatient rehabilitation center with 15 physical therapists specializing in musculoskeletal rehab, sports medicine, spine rehab, lymphadema, weight loss for adolescents, arthritis, incontinence, head ache/neck pain, and massage therapy
  • Body Pump program, group barbell training class
  • 8-week cancer recovery program, at no charge


Gainesville Health & Fitness is the only fitness company with a complete center for women; includes the only full-service locker room, spa area, kids club, group exercise classes, cardio theater, personal training and weight loss programs, free weight loss club and free kids’ classes.


GHFC is the only fitness center with 30 years of services to the community. We are also the only fitness center in Gainesville to receive these awards:

  • Business of the Year by Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, 2004
  • Winner, “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the University of Florida, Center for Entrepreneurship, 2004
  • “Healthiest Community in America” by Wellness Councils of America, 2003 (awarded to the Gainesville community, initiated by Gainesville Health & Fitness)
  • World Fitness Center of the Year by the European Congress, 2001
  • Top 8 Health Clubs by Men’s Health, 1996

Shawn Stewart is the Operations Manager at Gainesville Health and Fitness Center. Contact him at shawns@ghfc.com

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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