RSG Group’s new ‘gym of the future’ could be a sign of things to come for fixed-location fitness franchises.
Interview by Kieran McLoone, editor of Global Franchise
Much has been said about the rise of virtual workouts, especially in light of COVID-19 shutdowns across the fitness franchising landscape. But this doesn’t spell the end for in-person fitness.
To find out how this flagship location will impact the brand’s brick-and-mortar franchise network moving forward, we sat down with Jörg Fockenberg, CDO for Gold’s Gym, and director of expansion at RSG Group.
KM: How has the strategy behind Gold’s Gym’s development changed since RSG Group acquired the brand in 2020?
JF: Since acquiring Gold’s Gym in 2020, RSG Group has been focused on holistically streamlining the business across the internal support center and the company-owned gyms as well as ordering and restructuring the franchise business.
Gold’s Gym approaches members now with a hybrid of new designs, a wisely chosen equipment mix, and a tangible feeling of our legacy while also providing franchisees with a clear vision of keeping processes simple, automated, and replicable. The new Gold’s Gym flagship in Berlin serves as our German market entry as well as our first company-owned location within Europe.
KM: Despite digital workouts being a focus of the past year, Gold’s Gym has doubled down on brick-and-mortar. Why is that?
JF: In today’s fitness market, neither a full digital workout experience alone nor a traditional in-gym workout experience alone can fulfill all member needs. RSG Group has long embraced digital fitness across our portfolio of brands, and we will continue doing so in ways that enhance the overall membership. But we recognize that a fully well-rounded fitness experience will never be complete without an in-person community.
So, while many fitness brands spent the past year pivoting away from brick-and-mortar gyms as a result of the pandemic, RSG Group spent time and resources designing the perfect gym for a post- COVID world. It is only fitting that the iconic Gold’s Gym brand would be the one to bring this vision to life, as Gold’s Gym has been pioneering the fitness industry since 1965.
KM: What kind of technological enhancements have you introduced to boost the brick-and-mortar experience?
JF: Our challenge today is not only to boost member and franchisee experiences at the most basic levels, but we also need to find ways to meet and exceed a wide range of expectations that go beyond the direct products and services a business offers. We consider it an art form to offer full services while constantly enhancing those offerings for the modern context of rapidly changing technology standards.
“In today’s fitness market, neither a full digital workout experience alone nor a traditional in-gym workout experience alone can fulfill all member needs”
Therefore, we’ve put a 360-degree focus on improving the Gold’s Gym experience for both members and franchisees alike. For members, this includes a greater focus on digital engagement, as well as frictionless ways to join and manage memberships online. In studios, we also prioritize a wide variety of workout areas and engaging group classes.
For franchisees, this includes beneficial network partnerships, as well as site selection based on reliable data collected via artificial intelligence.
KM: What do you think franchisors will need to prioritize to bring customers back into brick-and-mortar fitness centers?
JF: We are committed to making it clear that a membership is more than just a contract – it is a serious, flexible, and reliable partnership. We want our members who are returning to their gyms after the past year to feel like they are coming home to a family.
Our ultimate mission as we progress into this new chapter for Gold’s Gym is to ensure that both our company-owned and franchised gyms are prioritizing the customer’s needs above all else, whether it is a small-town gym with a limited membership base or a multi-unit Gold’s Gym network with tens of thousands of members to serve.
It’s all based on mutual trust, alignment, and consistently open communication to your gym community. Give member shoutouts, engage with existing and potential members through the right marketing channels for your audience, and express gratitude and excitement as more and more members make their return.
KM: How will this new corporate-owned ‘gym of the future’ direct the future of Gold Gym’s franchisee portfolio?
JF: Gold’s Gym Campus Berlin offers a tangible feeling of the ultimate topline vision for the brand and shows how Gold’s Gym’s heritage and enormous legacy of fitness and bodybuilding can be transformed into the modern spirit of our times.
The Campus is intended to function as a symbol of a truly innovative fitness experience, which can be translated from Berlin to the local needs of every country with the ongoing support of the Gold’s Gym franchising team.