An Innovative Independent Gym Model

The Independent Gym Developer Is Back And Reshaping the Fitness Landscape In Real Time

No doubt. The big-box gyms own the lower priced demographic and the luxury gym brands the top. The chains, the lazy man’s portal to gym ownership offers developers a viable turn-key fitness solution ripe with systems affording efficiency and fast-lane access to market. Currently media rhetoric celebrates the new emerging boutique cycle-barr-bootcamp-crossfitesque gym trends (the flavor of the year) as intimidating fitness modalities. All told, the preceding conjecture possesses all the trappings of a garden variety Orwellian conspiracy capable of great evil.

There’s another prevailing fitness argument that’s been reduced to old news. Content delivered by fitness talking heads dismissing the very cradle of fitness, the old school mid price gym model, as forlorn, rudderless and doomed for extinction. In real time, nothing could be further from the truth.

New fearless gym developers are carving out a trajectory and reclaiming the heritage (and market share) of that which was once their sole domain….not price, no gimmicks, no trends, no pizza, just real fitness. Cuoco Black 2015

As these new developers pass our doors I admire their optimistic mantra which contradicts the rhetoric we’ve all come to accept as Gospel. It’s as if they’ve fallen upon some Arthurian “Holy gym Grail” and foresee the promised fitness land.

They rebuff the siren-song promoted by fitness editorial and other media trumpeting the $9.99 gyms as an invincible model poised for global domination and exponential growth.

Next, the chains, one notch up in market segment, category, and price-point promise a juggernaut of passive income, a carefree lifestyle, and the prestige and ownership of their superior fitness brand. The developers have confided in me, first hand, that they’ve “kicked the tires” and shopped the chain franchise models, and have resolutely said no thank you .

These new developers are not so poised (or inspired) to develop a luxury facility either, those elitist-gym-snobbery-models that resemble boutique hotels and say nothing about fitness, energy, or a fitness brand. (Reality Check Here)> The luxury gym brand is derivative design adopted from the hospitality industry. It’s defined as boutique design and celebrated by design intelligentsia as chill, sophisticated and oh so sexxy. So there you have it. Boutique design’s core ideology is chill and sexxy and as far as I can reason, chill and sexxy has nothing to do with a fitness experience. I would argue that a fitness experience must amplify energy and excitement, not a lounge vibe.

Finally their take on the new “pop-up” trends. Maybe it’s their entrepreneurial spirit that move them to reject the cycle-barr-bootcamp-crossfitesque gym trends. Perhaps they like the game, the challenge, the climb, ownership if you will, in contrast to a templated gym model where authority rests with the all powerful “franchisor” Wizard of Fitness. Candidly, and just maybe, they’re life-savvy enough to know a trend when they see it. I do.

So what are the common denominators of these new maverick developers that empowers them to reject wholesale all of the models illustrated above?

Pretty much they’re all passionate fitness enthusiasts, that’s a given. It’s certainly in contrast to the investment groups and stockholders who’ve usurped the benefits of health and wellness for gym models that reduce fitness to a commodity beholden to the financial statement.

Secondly, they’re intimately connected with their members, not that the other models aren’t. It’s just that they’ve got skin in the game, there’s no hierarchy or pyramid fitness scheme that has their back.

Third…they deliver marketing, social, community outreach, and programming in an organic geo-specific stream demographically targeted and strategically scrutinized, they walk the walk.

Finally they promote, promote, promote, results in a fitness vernacular that reflects their own vision and business model and experience with the game. This is an interesting insight inferring that each developer delivers fitness service to their membership base in their own unique voice.

In summary, the independent gym developers are moving the fitness landscape along a new path. Applaud them all for they’re the new disruptive force emboldened by an ideology of wellness and health which had lost its way.

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Gym Designer Cuoco Black
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