Gold’s Gym recently announced the acquisition of Fitness First (that’s Fitness First, and not, we want to emphasize, Fitness Together). The chain was locally-owned here in the DC area, and has begun converting and re-branding this chain.
This acquisition was done to extend Gold’s Gyms in the Washington area, where the market is “known for health-conscious folks and heavy users of the facilities,” explains Jim Snow, president of Gold’s Gym. As a result, Gold’s Gym will be operating more than 50 locations in the DC-area alone. The national chain also notes it will keep all the local chain's employees.
However, response to this news seems to be less than enthusiastic, especially as far as current members of the local gym chain are concerned. In recent Washington Post articles, commenters criticized the acquisition, noting that Gold’s Gym’s corporate approach to handling fitness clients was one of the things they tried to avoid when picking a local gym.
It was “a local company and [thus] it felt like home there,” explains user glenn3. Many others claimed that they simply wanted to deal with a locally-owned and operated company to get the personalized training and attention that out-of-state corporations do not provide.
Two things we would say are this:
First, we are proud that our Fitness Together studios are locally owned and operated.
Second, and this may come as a shock to some: There are great benefits to Gold’s Gym taking over a rival of ours. Gold’s will likely invest in upgrades and new equipment. But also, let’s not forget that over the past decade we have seen the local fitness scene in this area become positively revolutionized. Where we once had only a few local gyms, now we have hundreds. In short, Washington, and particularly some of the surrounding areas, are finally catching up with the rest of the major US cities and urban areas when it comes to fitness.
As local residents, we have high-end studios and low-end gyms. We have boxing clubs, Pilates centers, and yoga studios. We have classes on spinning, TRX, and kickboxing. We have so much more than we did just a few years ago.
“The rising tide lifts all boats,” says Rick Coe, owner of FT/Bethesda. “My goal is to get people healthy and active, and to tackle obesity in this country. More investment in the exercise industry means people are working out more, not less, right?”
Coe continued: “All these exercise options means there is something for everybody. Maybe it’s Gold’s, maybe it’s Fitness Together, maybe it’s lifting weights in your basement. The point is choose what works best for you. And if you aren’t seeing any results, then find a solution where you will.”