Big Box Gyms Still Work?

October 7, 2014

By: Jim Thomas
President/Founder of Fitness Management and Consulting

I read it all the time and I’m sure you do as well, big box gyms are a thing of the past. Do you think this is true? Not based on what I see.  Let me explain why.

Yes, when you read the survey’s and talk to owners, you hear tales of struggle, but when you dig deeper, you see something completely different.  The survey and the story of a struggle are, many times, just the end result of many things that have been missed.

17 Templates to Streamline Communication With Your Members in 2024


We work with many big box gyms that flourish and the opportunity is available for any club owner to get the results they are seeking if they will integrate the following;

  1. Overcome the issue of obscurity. This is the biggest problem faced by gyms, no one knows you’re out there and those that do aren’t thinking about you. Too many gym owners significantly underestimate what it will take to gain attention. It requires a massive, determined effort and not just doing a few things to accomplish this.
  2. Get a club app and actually use it. You are literally in the palm of the hand of your club members and prospects. No club should be without one.
  3. Become a digital media company. I don’t see many really taking advantage of this incredible opportunity. Blogs, Video, podcast, email, social media and salesperson resource center.  This is significantly underutilized or even truly understood.
  4. Turning cost centers into profit centers. The days are long past whereby the monthly dues can underwrite every area of your club. Your front desk, nursery and group x must product (at minimum) enough to cover their cost.  In the end, this means training and development of staff.
  5. Sales Process. These are the proven steps of the sales process.  Every guest, no matter what the circumstances, must receive a membership presentation.
  6. Sales fundamentals. The two biggest areas of improvement are being agreeable with the customer and asking for the sale.
  7. Learn how to follow up on existing leads. So much time and effort is placed on getting the phone to ring and people to call and then the ball is dropped in follow up.  Salespeople need training on how to properly do this.
  8. Keeping the club as new and as trendy today as it was the day it opened. Much like the restaurant and nightclub business, your gym must stay on top of the recent trends in order to stay relative in the marketplace.
  9. Install a strategy to grow and develop member loyalty. This is the foundation of your member retention success and it can’t be simply “we provide good service, it must be quantifiable.
  10. Actually define a unique selling position. Most gyms we go into cannot answer this question.  Quite simply; what makes you different, why should I join your gym?  And you can’t say because you’re friendly, have great service and have the best equipment – everyone says that.
  11. Now, go make your big box gym a success!

Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting and turnaround firm specializing in the fitness and health club industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars and workshops across the country on the practical skills required to successfully build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. Visit his Web site at: