Back in the days my gym Escapist CrossFit collaborated with one of the biggest providers on the market for gym access memberships. It was a decision that I then regretted because it pushed my best clients away.
Almost a decade ago they started to pop up in most countries, the online gym membership providers that granted access to hundreds or even thousands of different fitness locations with only one membership.
Usually with great experience in conversion marketing and backed with heavy VC they quickly built up a platform of “users” that would flood each gym that signed up.
It should be a win-win right?
I know many bigger companies now provide these memberships for their employees and theoretically a company of 5000 people could be your potential clients over night. And in the beginning it might bring a steady stream of new people coming in.
Now, in a micro-gym, members talk to each other and they have relationships with the staff and other members. As these “new members” start to enter the gym the quickly notice something is “off” and it quickly starts to affect the atmosphere of the classes. So, the members start to talk and might come up with the idea of switching their membership because it sounds like a dream to have access to 500 gyms for half of the price. So the members of the micro-gym quit. The owners get frustrated and start dropping their prices to match the general providers.
I know many micro-gyms just provide reduced access to “scaled down” CrossFit classes and try to justify the collaboration by providing a “lesser” product than to their own members. Which might lead to the creation of two cultures at the gym.
In one way, I could see it as playing in a sports team where everyone know each other. We all know who is doing what and whom to pass the ball. Suddenly a bunch of players enters the team that don’t want to wear the same jersey and have never played the game before. It is not going to be a great team to play in.
Where my gym lost money was that it got impossible for us to sell our service at a price that we were worth because the connection to these providers made us into a commodity.
As we stopped collaborating we stopped being a commodity and we could set out prices where we were worth and prospects would not even think of comparing us.
Has it sometimes lead us saying “no” to some prospects looking for these deals? Sure! But every time I am also happy because those people would not fit our gym.
Are there certain situations that can make some gyms different from mine? Of course! There are probably situations where a collaboration might work but at the end of the day the biggest issue as I see it remains, which is;
They are not my members, not my clients but want to have the same quality as my members. I don’t see it as a stable business idea and I don’t see it bring longterm success to my members.