The History of The Gold’s Gym Challenge

by Ginger Collins and the Gold’s Gym Challenge Committee


GingerWe have wrapped the Gold’s Gym Challenge National judging here in Atlanta!  Congratulations to all the contestants and their hard work and amazing achievements.

Calls have already been made to Franchisees notifying them of their winners.  Franchisees will contact their winners the week of May 27th.

In partnership with GGI, an official announcement will be published by the GGFA and placed on the official Gold’s Gym Challenge facebook page.

It is our honor and privilege to be part of this inspirational event and journey.  Here is how it all began … in 1998 the Gold’s Gym Challenge was born!

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The Gold’s Gym Challenge started in Wenatchee, Washington during the summer of 1998 as a way to keep members coming into the gym in a region where outdoor recreation is a religion. 116 members signed up for Wenatchee’s first Challenge. Many hired the trainers in the gym to help them win the modest prize money. Personal Trainer and Registered Dietician, Tammi Flynn encouraged her clients to eat fruit at the beginning of each of three meals a day simply in an effort to get them to eat more produce. She chose the most portable, widely available, and well liked fruit to fill that role; apples. People found it easy to lose weight using three apples each day as their “diet pill.” The apple recommendation soon became a normal part of the Wenatchee Gold’s Gym Challenge. Eventually, the huge amount of apples consumed by Gold’s Gym members caught the attention of an employee from the Washington Apple Commission. This led to the partnering of the Washington Apple Commission and Gold’s Gym International to promote the $500,000 Gold’s Gym Challenge (GGC). The Washington Apple Commission spent $6.5 million promoting the “$500,000 Gold’s Gym Challenge” and highlighting apples as “nature’s diet pill.” Tammi Flynn published a book through a division of Random House titled – The Three Apple-a-Day Plan. It features the Gold’s Gym Challenge throughout.

After the promotion, several Gold’s Gym owners took the Challenge to higher levels of performance and made it a chief driver in how they ran their operations. One key group was from New York with franchisee Bill Austin. His group, led by Dave Kenyon, found more and more ways to leverage the GGC into a powerful and sustainable community event. The key piece in the evolution of this promotion is the shift from being an in-gym event, to becoming a community-wide event that brings people into the gym.

In August of 2006, Blair McHaney and his partner Jacki Thomas called Bill and asked him if he wanted to put up $5,000 each to create a cross-country community of members working for the big prize of $10,000. When Bill consulted with Dave, the bet was on. In an effort to optimize their “bet”, both teams collaborated on everything from advertising to the manual they created to help members succeed to the orientations and awards banquets. With radio and newspaper advertising the 2 sides promoted their cross-country rivalry and to this day they both think they won.

Over the next few years, the prize money grew from $10,000 to $75,000. The entire prize pool was comprised of “$5,000 bets” made by franchisees beginning in 2007 for the year 2008 and was raised through the efforts of the GGFA. Since then the Gold’s Gym Challenge has been adopted by other franchisees and has grown every year and was eventually adopted by corporate in 2011. With the franchisees and corporate working together on the Gold’s Gym Challenge it has grown even bigger and is now one of the leading 12 week contests in the country. The prize pool now is comprised with the donations of supporting Suppliers and the GGAP fund.

There are other franchisees that embrace this model of promotion (Dominican Republic!) and have learned to use it as a tool to improve their performance in all areas of operations including goal setting, planning, budgeting, execution, marketing, advertising, PR, member support, strategic group exercise planning, aligned retail sales, front line service, communications, rewards and recognition, and event planning.

Our hope is that the franchisees who begin to build this promotion into something bigger, will share their successes and their screw-ups in all of these areas in order to make all of us better operators whether we are doing the promotion or not.

This annual signature event brings the entire Gold’s Gym community together, including Franchisees, the GGFA, GGI and all the Brand’s staff and members. It is a proud event that has become a big part of the annual GGI International Convention.

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About GGFA

The Gold's Gym Franchisee Association is the independent voice of the Gold's Gym franchisees.
This entry was posted in Best Practices, From the Board, From the Executive Director, Marketing. Bookmark the permalink.

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