As society advances in technology and economics so must business. As gym owners we are constantly searching for the newest toy, training program, or marketing method to help grow our business and get our clients results. Something we didn’t see coming was the introduction of ‘gym hopping’ companies. A gym hopping company (GHC) offers individuals the opportunity to workout at multiple gyms for one, low monthly fee. In turn, GHCs pay the gyms for each client who attends their facility.
From a consumer point of view, this is great! For less than $100 per month you have access to dozens of gyms. Want Yoga on Monday? You got it. Want a HIIT workout on Wednesday? It’s there. Barre classes? Say no more. From a business standpoint I’m a huge fan of GHCs. Classes fill up, and we make money. It’s a win-win. For the GHC, it’s a membership-based program where they do not have to provide or produce a product. Again, it’s win-win scenario. But is this just a fad or is it going to be a permanent feature in the fitness industry?
Only time will tell if GHCs last. Let’s look at the reasons why they came about and see if that helps us answer the question. First, the people who are using GHCs are in their 20s and 30s, mostly millennials. This generation values experiences and personal health over property. Trying new things weekly and wanting to stay fit is typical for the average millennial. Second, millennials are the A.D.D. generation. A short attention span means they want something different, and they want it now. Spin class today, kickboxing tomorrow. Third, aside from large franchise gyms like Lifetime® or LA Fitness®, not many gyms have a multitude of classes. Rarely will you find an independent gym with spin, yoga, HIIT workouts, bootcamp circuits, barre class, personal training, group training, and more. These independent gyms are slowly growing, but do not have the marketing power, money, and/or space to accommodate hundreds or thousands of people daily. The existence of GHCs solves this problem.
While these are all valid reasons for the creation of GHCs, we have to look at the gyms themselves to see if GHCs will be long lasting. Do we, gym owners, want to save space in class for people who might not even join our gym? The easy answer is to look at your bottom line. From a small business owner standpoint GHCs are great. First, it’s free marketing! Any start-up business owner knows the hardships of trying to get the word out about their product or service: Digital marketing, website SEOs, event sponsorship, and the like. It can get expensive and sometimes you’re not sure if it’s going to work. GHCs do the advertising for you and they’re damn good at it. Second, you have spaces in class that need to be filled. Typically, group fitness classes have room for a few extra bodies. Empty space means less money. GHCs help fill those spaces for you. The more bodies in class; the more money the gym makes. Simple. Finally, all these extra bodies in the door increase the gyms chances of converting them into monthly paying members. Drop-ins are great, but members are better. If they don’t join, then at the minimum it allows the gym owner to look at their program and figure out what needs to change in order to increase membership.
I can’t speak for all gym owners but the last 3 months have shown me the promise of GHCs. We’ve seen a nice spike in monthly revenue, and we’ve started converting visitors to regular members. For these reasons I hope GHCs continue to thrive. As for clients continually using GHCs instead of joining gyms, I think two types of clients will continue purchasing GHC memberships: The fitness enthusiasts and the wannabes. Fitness enthusiasts are already in shape but want to be challenged because they’re bored. They want different workouts, different instructors, and different challenges to test their abilities. Wannabes are clients who do not have their ideal body but are trying to get there by jumping from program to program. All other GHC customers will eventually join a gym because, in the end, we all want consistency and a routine.