Over the past year, Club Solutions Magazine has shined a spotlight on a variety of rock star health club operators, each with their own unique story. Here, we share insights and takeaways from 2022’s top-read cover stories.
March 2022: Xponential Fitness
Overview: Since its foundation, Xponential has become the top curator of boutique fitness brands worldwide, with verticals spanning Pilates, yoga, indoor cycling, barre, stretching, rowing, dancing, boxing, functional training and running. In addition to its 2,100-plus existing locations, 4,400-plus licenses have been sold. The company’s brands can be found in 48 states and 12 countries (at the time of the article’s publishing). In the cover story, we discuss Xponential’s journey to becoming a publicly-traded company and investments in initiatives such as XPASS, a cross-brand subscription featuring dynamic pricing.
Takeaway: Although Xponential’s IPO got off to a rocky start in the midst of the pandemic, the company has since increased its stock price significantly. On November 10, the company reported in its third quarter of 2022 report that revenue was up 56%. In addition, North American system-wide sales increased by 37% compared to the third quarter of 2021, to $264.8 million. Between Xponential and Planet Fitness’ success as publicly traded companies, this showcases fitness brands can be a wise investment, whereas in the past they have struggled to get eyeballs.
April 2022: Assaf Gal
Overview: Assaf Gal and his family moved from Israel to the U.S. when he was two years old, providing him with a unique perspective on what it feels like to be different. This experience has guided his approach to leadership and creating inclusive environments, which he carries out across his three Crunch facilities in New York. In the cover story, we discuss lessons Gal gleaned from a previous solar light business regarding the importance of creating systems and delegating, how to truly activate core values, why it’s important to have a thirst for knowledge as a leader, and more.
Takeaway: When it comes to establishing culture, Gal explained it’s a leader’s job to reinforce, reinforce, reinforce. Putting mission and vision statements up on a wall is not going to cut it. “As I like to remind my management team, there’s always an opportunity to reinforce,” he said. “We have many chances daily, whether we are commending, coaching, role playing, running a meeting, interacting with a member and anything in between, to utilize shared language and label these interactions through the lens of our core values and beliefs. Once you feel like people are sick and tired of hearing you, they’re just starting to hear it.”
June 2022: BFit
Overview: BFit is a local chain of four gyms based in Evansville, Indiana. Like most facilities, customer experience is extremely important to the leadership team. However, in the cover story it’s revealed that for BFit this starts with the employee experience and trickles down to the member, versus the other way around. Tactics discussed include the brand’s emphasis on language, prioritization of employee feedback and commitment to effective communication.
Takeaway: At BFit, everything really does stem from the employee experience. “We believe everything starts with the employee,” said Wayne Ellis, a partner and the CEO of BFit. “If you want an exceptional member experience, that only happens through a group of people working together to make it happen. The one thing we hear very often is we are a family. And it’s through truly caring about each other that leads to an environment where we all truly care about the members and their experience at the gym each day.”
August 2022: Gainesville Health & Fitness
Overview: Gainesville Health & Fitness (GHF) in Gainesville, Florida, was founded by Joe Cirulli in 1978. Ever since, the brand has maintained standards that go above and beyond. In the cover story we highlight how the storied brand has maintained these standards across three locations by sticking to who they are, hiring good culture fits and being committed to five-star customer service.
Takeaway: According to Cirulli, the importance of good people in the form of staff can never be understated. “The biggest thing in our organization is the people,” he said. “You can have the Taj Mahal of a club. But if the people are jerks, that isn’t going to matter. So, to me, everything is about having the right people in the organization and treating people fairly.”
October 2022: 24 Hour Fitness
Overview: Karl Sanft was named president and CEO of 24 Hour Fitness after serving as the brand’s COO for three years, and as a long-standing member for almost three decades. In the cover story, we discuss Sanft’s vision for the brand after a tumultuous two years in the fitness industry, including the aim to invest in 24 Hour Fitness’ portfolio of 300 gyms across the U.S. through capital upgrades, the transition of many of its clubs from limited operations back to 24/7 service, and its focus on creating a more frictionless experience for customers.
Takeaway: According to Beth Smits, the senior vice president of operations and services at 24 Hour Fitness, consumers are seeking feedback regarding if what they’re doing is actually working. “We’re using Evolt and InBody scans so we can show the member they’re gaining results,” explained Smits. “And results can mean a lot of different things. It doesn’t have to be losing weight — it can also be getting stronger or building more muscle mass. Members want to know if the work they’re putting in — recovery work, mindfulness work, movement — is making an impact. It’s about setting goals and gamifying and measuring results, which makes members want to come back and be sticky to fitness.”