Gold’s Gym, Part 2: Ballroom Dancers and Bodybuilders

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Back in 2008, I wrote about mixed messages at my local Gold’s Gym as it tries to appeal to both bodybuilders and soccer moms.

It’s a real-life example of what happens when your business strategy and marketing tell one story, yet customers experience something quite different.

Here’s what happened next (and don’t miss the broccoli ad at the end of the post!): 

I went to my Gold’s the same day that we published our newsletter.  After I finished my workout, I headed towards an empty group fitness room to work on flexibility and balance.  (The sales guy specifically told me when I joined that any member could use those rooms if no classes were in progress.)

As I reach for the door, a passing Gold’s employee says, “Oh, you can’t go in there.  They’re measuring something.”  I said, “No, I see a boom box and other customers are in there.”

This time she says “Oh, I think there’s a bodybuilder practicing in there.” And pauses, as if the meaning of this statement should be obvious to me.

I looked at her blankly, and finally said “So that means I can’t use the room?”

And she said, with great doubt:  “Well, if you’ll feel comfortable you can still go in.”

Now, here’s what so funny about this.

I decide to live dangerously, and enter the room.

Guess who’s in there?  Well, OK, there IS a bodybuilder over in the far corner practicing his poses in front of the mirror. Cool, cool.

The boom box?  Oh, THAT’s being used by a couple in their 40s and 50s practicing ballroom dancing moves!

The irony is overwhelming.  This is exactly what Gold’s is hoping for, right?  The perfect scenario. A gym for everyone.

And yet an employee is shooing people away from the room. Definitely didn’t leave a good taste in my mouth.

Talk about shooting your business in the foot.  But this kind of mixed message is what happens when you want your health and wellness business to be all things to all people.

Meanwhile, here’s Gold’s broccoli ad.  Isn’t it terrific?  Original, creative and really sends a strong message about the connections between nutrition and physical wellbeing. Another one that pairs orange slices and weight plates is equally good.

But alas, not at all representative of what Gold’s is really all about.

Gold's broccoli ad