Every month, Club Solutions sits down with an industry expert to share in their knowledge. This issue, we sat down with Assaf Gal, a Crunch Fitness franchisee.
1. How did you get your start in the fitness industry?
Both owning a business and fitness have always been a passion of mine. So, when I started on the path to business ownership, I went the franchising route. In my due diligence, I reviewed many concepts, ranging from sandwiches, haircuts, massages, fitness and even locksmiths. I really wanted to make sure I turned over all the rocks and executed at the level of responsibility I owed myself and my family. I figured it would be fitness but kept my options and mind wide open. I did, of course, settle on fitness, and Crunch was the clear choice. The best brand, the best people, the best concern and value proposition for the consumer, all in the best market.
2. What’s been a key to your organization’s success? What are you most proud of?
I genuinely believe the key to the success and traction we’ve achieved so far has been having a meaningful set of core values and making sure we live them out daily. The only way to be more than “just a gym” is to have a culture people can sense and feel when they come in. I also have a lot of “who” luck. Raymond Gonzalez, our regional manager, has been with me since Day One and is the integrator who glues all our execution together. We also have team members who have been with us for years. I can’t do any of it without them.
3. What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career?
My biggest accomplishment happens every time a team member or gym member hits a new milestone. Everywhere you look in one of our clubs, there’s someone realizing that fitness, or working in fitness, is a microcosm of a life of success.
4. What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
It’s clear that, by far, the biggest challenge was COVID-19, the shutdowns, and all of the uncertainty and challenging dynamics that came from the aftermath. Managing that process was a herculean team effort, and I can’t help but be in awe of our team and our whole industry for navigating through that turbulence.
I think the only way to overcome something like that was the Stockdale Paradox. You have to have unwavering faith to prevail in the end, while confronting the current brutal reality. And an additional key ingredient is a network of support who is with you through the grind. I was overwhelmingly blessed to have my team, my family, my Crunch franchisees, my REX Group, the New York Fitness Alliance, Club Solutions and IHRSA. I knew we were in it together, and we’d get through it together — and we did.
5. What is one lesson you have learned that other fitness professionals can learn from?
The great book “Competing Against Luck” by Clayton Christensen wonderfully reframes purchase decisions as hiring decisions so people can make some sort of progress in their life. They may want to make functional, social or emotional progress. I think realizing that, of course, we must help people make functional progress, like gaining muscle, but the real magic happens at the higher planes of progress. We help people make social and emotional progress, and that’s why they’re hiring us. There are many ways to get fitter, but you can only find friends and community in our clubs.
6. Tell us a fact about yourself others may not know.
My wife and I are huge Broadway buffs. We live in Manhattan and see as many shows as we can, as often as we can. When I cook breakfast for my three children, our Sonos is belting out Spotify’s “Best of Broadway” playlist.