Buddha once said “To keep the body in good health is a duty otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” As citizens of the modern world, we all understand the need of living a healthy and strong life. Not only does basic strength enhance our quality of life and improve our capability to do daily activities, but it also protects our joints from injury, enabling us to live a pain-free, comfortable and fully functional life.
While strength can be defined in a variety of ways, with one person’s version of strength being completely different from another, one iconic fitness brand has redefined strength training altogether. Founded back in 1965 by Joe Gold in Venice Beach, California, and considered as the birthplace of the modern bodybuilding culture, Gold’s Gym® has since then grown to encompass more than 600 locations across 6 continents with over 2 million members and growing.
Jörg Fockenberg, Chief Development Officer for Gold’s says, “we are the home of serious fitness. Over the last 50-plus years, we have pioneered a culture around strength training and bodybuilding and have brought that legacy to each gym we operate.” Let’s find out a little more about what makes this fitness empire truly iconic.
Gold’s Gym first saw light back in 1965, long before the modern-day health club ever existed. Established by former Merchant Marine and bodybuilding enthusiast Joe Gold, the gym was a place where Joe and his friends often got together and pumped iron as passers-by checked them out in awe. Needless to say, soon after it opened, the gym gained popularity and anyone remotely interested in serious fitness found their way to its doors.
Featuring homemade equipment and earning the nickname “the Mecca of bodybuilding” this little gym soon established a cult following of fellow bodybuilding enthusiasts, including some of the most iconic fitness legends of all time like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno and Dave Draper.
Within a few years their popularity skyrocketed further and in 1980 Gold’s Gym became one of the first companies ever in health and fitness to franchise. “In 1980, the second Gold’s Gym location opened in San Francisco, CA under a license agreement. This was the beginning of our expansion journey. Later in the 1980s, Gold’s Gym moved to a franchise model for development,” shares Jörg. This would only be the start of what would be a revolution in the fitness industry for the years to come.
The first international location of Gold’s opened in Canada in 1985, soon after which various International Direct and Master Franchise partnership opportunities started flowing in. Over the years, Gold’s Gym opened in South America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, becoming a brand that every individual, whether a gym goer or not, is aware of.
Over the years, Gold’s earned the designation as one of the most cutting-edge and accessible gyms in the world with health fanatics from all over seeking to join. Notable users of Gold’s Gym have included high flying names such as Jessica Alba, Jodie Foster, Morgan Freeman, Dwayne Johnson, Keanu Reeves, and Tiger Woods, among many others. The original Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach is a popular tourist spot and is an ESPN designated sports landmark, named on its list of the 100 most important sports venues in the world.
“we are the home of serious fitness. Over the last 50-plus years, we have pioneered a culture around strength training and bodybuilding and have brought that legacy to each gym we operate.”
The driving force
But what is it that has kept this gym ahead of the curve for all these years? What continues to propel Gold’s growth? It’s simple really, explains Jörg. “Our heritage and legacy are what differentiate us. We value ourselves as the leaders in strength training and are working with top fitness equipment brands to offer best-in-class strength training equipment.” Furthermore, Gold’s Gym prides itself on being approachable to all levels of gym-goers, fostering a community of support to help every single member achieve their fitness goals.
From being the brand responsible for the legendary images of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron back in the 70s’, Gold’s has evolved into a modern fitness kingdom, backed by the latest technology and some of the best health conditioning experts on the planet. While every Gold’s Gym has slightly different offerings, customers can rest assured, expect only the best in terms of equipment, training and prices at all locations.
Serious training doesn’t necessarily mean advanced training explains Jörg. “Our gyms also have a great selection of group classes, cardio and more to provide a well-rounded fitness experience but Gold’s Gym was built on strength training, and we make sure that we never lose sight of that.” With a range off-the-shelf as well as tailormade fitness solutions for each individual, Gold’s prides itself on empowering its members to become the best version of themselves.
The corporate culture at Gold’s is a force to reckon with in itself. The Gold’s organization is defined by its 10 Golden Rules that each employee, franchise owner, team member and partner have to abide by. While having a Passion for fitness and bodybuilding, Honoring the Gold’s Gym legacy and treating each other as Family, form the bedrock of Gold’s organizational culture, other values like Support, Knowledge, Science, Health, Responsibility, Sustainability and Cleanliness are abundantly visible in and around every Gold’s establishment
“Our heritage and legacy are what differentiate us. We value ourselves as the leaders in strength training and are working with top fitness equipment brands to offer best-in-class strength training equipment.”
Franchising and global outreach
As a leading fitness franchisor, the Gold’s establishment has been revered in the industry for their deep commitment to the success of their franchise partners. “Initial training is just the beginning of our support,” shares Jörg. “Each Franchisee is teamed with one of our dedicated Franchise Business Consultants, who have many years of industry experience in, and sometimes out, of the brand. They are their ambassadors, their support staff and their single point of contact to leverage the most value from the knowledge and experience of our entire team at Gold’s Gym.”
The organization also provides regional training, onsite visits, marketing support, branding assets, national campaigns, technology upgrade assistance and more, aiding franchisees to run their business successfully. All this brand asks from its partners is to have a growth mindset and most importantly, respect and abide by Gold’s fundamental valnues of family, passion and honor.
With numerous other fitness brands out there, it is safe to say that the gym space has become extremely competitive with most gymnasiums in a locality often competing for the same members. For Gold’s Gym however, success is all about building on their legacy and remaining the number one “serious fitness” franchise in the world. A legacy that remains unshaken till date.
Even Gold’s latest marketing campaigns have been drawn from this very legacy. Recently partnering with gym80 of Germany, Gold’s has begun outfitting their gyms with top-of-the-line machines and equipment, while simultaneously expanding into the fitness lifestyle space. Furthermore, this year Gold’s is all set to launch their very own podcast, a capsule clothing collection as well as a nutrition line, so don’t forget to keep an eye out for that.
Onwards and upwards
After all these years, Gold’s Gym defined bodybuilding and conditioning techniques continues to lead the fitness industry, breaking boundaries and changing the way others perceive and pursue fitness. With a whopping 96% in consumer brand awareness coupled with the heritage of bodybuilding, Gold’s is still the only gym that brings the thought of strength training consistently to mind.
As one of the oldest fitness franchises of the world, the story of Gold’s gym has been one of many ups and downs. Yet, in the end they say only the strong survive and Gold’s is all about strength. In 2020, Gold’s was acquired by the RSG Group, a European fitness giant that also owns the McFit brand.
Under its newest ownership, the everlasting Gold’s Gym brand continues its journey, adapting and evolving through changing times and technologies, continuing to be recognized globally by organizations and individuals alike as one of the foremost fitness chains of all time.