There are plenty of gyms and fitness studios in the U.S. and I’ve been to quite a few of them. From bigger gym corporations like LA Fitness and Planet Fitness to boutique studios like FlyWheel and SoulCycle – there’s pretty much something for everyone who wants to get in shape, lose some weight, or try something new. So what makes a person choose one gym or studio over another? The first thing that comes to mind is personal interest, but I got to thinking that brand might have something to do with it. Surprising, right?
I belong to Planet Fitness, mostly because it’s inexpensive; and it’s conveniently located about five minutes from my house. Planet Fitness is a pretty unique brand. To start, their focus is on people who don’t necessarily like gyms. They have a lunk alarm in each facility that they will set off if someone is acting like a “lunkhead” (for those of you that do not know what a lunkhead is, think of a super buff guy who grunts a lot and throws heavy weights onto the ground to make sure everyone around him is aware of his existence in the gym). “A lot of people are not ‘lunkheads,’”says Stuart Goldman, executive editor of the trade magazine Club Industry. “They just want to get in, get on the treadmill for 30 minutes, and get out.”
Planet Fitness’ tagline is: Home of the Judgement Free Zone®. They offer an environment with no classes and pizza on every first Monday of the month and $10 membership fees that help define their brand and set them apart from industry competitors. The inexpensive, non-judgemental and accessible model has certainly served the chain well so far. CEO Chris Rondeau says that he predicts that Planet Fitness will hit one thousand locations by next year. There are eight locations in Philadelphia alone!
On the opposite side of the fitness spectrum there is SoulCycle, an indoor cycling studio with locations along the East Coast, California, and Chicago. SoulCycle focuses on a full body workout with a spiritual component, and they have accumulated quite the cult following. The tagline “find your soul” is completely on brand, and reiterates the company’s spiritual aspect.
SoulCycle built their brand on the emphasis of client testimonials, placing them on the forefront of their website. Each week they promote a new “Soul Story” that shares unique experiences about their customers that helps customers feel like they are a part of the brand. SoulCycle also offers an array of retail items like shirts and accessories that change every month. Their company bio states that “SoulCycle isn’t just in the business of changing bodies; it’s in the business of changing lives. ”
The most important thing to remember is that you want your brand to provide differentiation to help consumers filter through the clutter and choose you. As a brand, Planet Fitness is great for people who don’t necessarily like gyms or spending a lot of money, whereas SoulCycle focuses on a more luxurious brand experience and overall spiritual well-being. If you give people what they want and stay true to your brand and whatever it stands for, you’ll be successful. A good brand impression will leave your customers satisfied, help generate more revenue, and make everyone a little happier.