Club Insider

Blair McHaney's Gold's Gyms

Making a National Brand Feel Local

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  • (L to R) Aron Branam, Fitness Director; Jenny Hymer, General Manager; and Blair McHaney
  • Weight and Cardio Floor of the Wenatchee Gold's Gym
  • Entrance of the East Wenatchee Gold's Gym
  • Sitting Area in the East Wenatchee Gold's Gym
  • Weight Area in the East Wenatchee Gold's Gym
  • Weight Area in the East Wenatchee Gold's Gym
  • Kinesis Room in the East Wenatchee Gold's Gym
  • Group Exercise Room in the East Wenatchee Gold's Gym

We all know the major national and worldwide health and fitness club brands. Some are large and getting bigger, and others are coming of age. Economies of scale gives them the ability to make media buys on par with their size, keeping their brand top-of-mind in respective markets. This alone can drive traffic through their doors, both in large communities as well as small ones. Some, however, forget one important thing. Genuinely connecting at the local level, deep within a community, can make a difference. It can make a difference in the eyes of local citizens, which can then make a difference on the club's bottom line. In the town of Wenatchee, Washington, and its sister neighbor, East Wenatchee, this is exactly what Blair McHaney has done with his two Gold's Gym locations.

Wenatchee and East Wenatchee are not large cities. They are small towns driven by local agriculture with the growing of cherries and apples. Every year is a fire drill, as Blair puts it, and people know their neighbors, from down the street to across town. What he has done with his Gold's Gyms, though, is on this same level. From personalizing the club's look and feel to the local neighborhood it is in, actually recycling an abandoned school and keeping its historical basketball floor intact, to award-winning community outreach efforts, the Gold's Gyms in Wenatchee and East Wenatchee are truly part of the community.

This is the essence of the Golds' brand, though. As Blair says in the interview that follows, "The way Gold's Gym succeeds is by being able to morph to its community and not have that cookie cutter box. The cookie cutter box would be the death of the Gold's Gym brand."

At the national level, though, Blair has also been deeply involved. On behalf of the brand, he has toured clubs across the country to learn from the best and bring that information into Gold's. As President of the Gold's Gym Franchise Association (GGFA) from 2007 until 2010, a tumultuous time period with Gold's Gym International (GGI), he successfully led the way to bettering the brand, a completely different result than what could have occurred. Now, after almost thirty years of business in the industry, he is one we can all learn from. So, let's do just that, as Club Insider presents an in-depth interview with Blair McHaney.

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