BUILDING A GYM BRAND: PART 1
Over the past six months, we’ve been deep diving into the intricacies of rolling out Biofit studios via a network of licensed affiliates around the world.
The pros and cons of gym license vs gym franchise growth strategies will be addressed in a separate article, here we focus on what needs to happen internally within a gym business before expanding beyond the first site or showroom based on what we've learnt.
Essentially this involves defining the concept's design standards, equipment packages, training methodology and operational standards, ensuring it can be faithfully replicated in whole (franchise model) or in part (license model) across multiple locations and territories.
Codifying the intellectual property (IP) in this way requires an investment of time and cash on the part of the owner in order to create the various manuals that, when taken together, serve as a blueprint for subsequent sites.
A lawyer's input is also advisable to help protect the gym brand IP through copyright and a rock-solid license or franchise agreement template that can be used for each new gym site as the business grows.
Simple economics dictates that the onus on aesthetics increases the further upmarket you go. Imagine a vertical line starting from bare bones budget gyms, moving up to rugged no-frills CrossFit boxes, to concept-driven boutique fitness studios and on up to luxury facilities that offer a complete wellness solution with pool, spa and juice bar.
Biofit typically sits nestled in the security of the mid- or premium gym market, it's the safest place to do business in our view!
CrossFit deliberately avoid giving any strong indications on gym design, preferring to focus on the training method and equipment.
A Gym Design Standards document however will likely cover anything from the entrance signage to the arrival area, reception desk, training zones, changing areas, bathrooms and back of house.
Direction can be given on colours, materials, finishes, furniture, flooring, lighting, plants and wall decorations, allowing varying degrees of individuality at site level according to the brand in question.
One of Biofit’s key points of differentiation comes via our collaboration with world-renowned architectural designer and landscape architect Lily Jencks who integrates the world of garden design into our more functional gym requirements.
We create green, leafy indoor gyms designed to have an impact on mind and soul, while clients are working on their bodies, it's a delicate balancing act so rather than handing over a mere manual we provide the concept design ourselves for implementation by a small local design & build team.
It's hard to define a gym brand’s equipment standards without also looking at its training methodology and target audience as the three are so intimately connected.
Whereas a martial arts gym client will typically expect relatively little beyond tatami-style mats and a plethora of gloves, pads and bags on offer, a CrossFit client will eventually come to appreciate the range of Olympic bars, weight plates, kettle-bells and functional rigs on offer. In both these cases, the changing and shower facilities are often an after-thought; clients are there to learn and train hard, tacitly accepting that everything else is secondary.
A luxury gym meanwhile may aim to render the workout experience as comfortable as possible with high-tech cardio and weight machines loaded with touch screen entertainment, hypoxic chambers, spinning studios, heated yoga rooms and so on. Licensed affiliate or franchise gym equipment packages and design standards therefore play a far greater role in the gym experience as a point of differentiation.
Biofit's approach takes a middle path; when outdoors we use what is around us but when indoors in a gym format we need to replicate as many lifelike situations as possible and stimulate a variety of movements; for that we select a mix of sandbags, balls, beams, bars and ropes as well as pads and gloves for play & fight techniques. Everything is made of wood, cotton, leather, bamboo and rubber, ensuring a consistently premium, natural aesthetic.
Defining a cohesive fitness method isn't an overnight process, in fact it is often the fruit of many years of learning, testing, experimenting and piecing together a system that delivers results.
With a method well defined and codified, rather than simply understood by the existing head coach for example, it is easier to start teaching seminars, workshops and certifications for both the fitness public and professionals.
Biofit's Level 1 training manual provides a background section on our natural ethos and belief system before diving into a catalogue of our movements with explanations for each, categorized by class type, with a series of class templates as well.
This is a catch-all term that includes branding, sales & marketing as well day to day operations in the gym or studio such as music policy, a preferred Customer Relationship Management system (e.g. MindBody), and much more besides.
How will the coaches start and end each class? What sounds or scents will be part of the class experience? How do clients check-in or reserve a class in advance? Who greets them at reception, if anyone, and how should they make them feel upon arrival and departure? What are the coaches wearing in the gym everyday? What method do the coaches follow during personal training sessions? Will there be Small Group Training options available?
Biofit operates on a license model rather than franchise, meaning that our control and direction over affiliate gyms is limited, we provide the template but there is plenty of room for individuality at local level. For example, we have our own 2000 track playlist collection that affiliates can use, but if it simply doesn't translate so well into downtown Bangkok or a residential corner of Moscow we're not going to force it on the licensee!
If you are interested to learn more about becoming a Biofit affiliate please contact us using the form below.