August 5, 2008

Gold’s Gym Eyes Grand Forks?

By Ryan Schuster, Grand Forks Herald, N.D.

Aug. 5--The iconic Gold's Gym chain of fitness centers could soon open a Grand Forks location.

Gold's Gym has identified Grand Forks as a potential future market, and the company has talked to more than one potential franchise owner about taking over local franchise rights, according to Keith Albright, senior vice president of franchising for Gold's Gym.

Details such as the gym's location and opening date would be worked out after a franchise agreement was in place, Albright said.

Albright said Gold's Gym has identified Grand Forks as "one of several markets we are anxious to develop."

He said it typically takes between a year and a year and a half after a franchisee is in place to build or renovate and open a location.

Albright said he expects to open a Gold's Gym in Grand Forks in 2009.

"I would be disappointed if we don't," he said.

Gold's Gym opened its first fitness center in North Dakota earlier this year in a former T.J. Maxx department store in Bismarck.

Albright said the chain would eventually like to have multiple gyms in Grand Forks and is also looking for franchisees in Fargo, Minot and possibly Jamestown, N.D.

"It's an area of the country we have done well in," Albright said. "We feel there is an opportunity to do more gyms up that way."

With almost 700 locations in 42 states and almost 30 countries, Irving, Texas-based Gold's Gym is the largest full-service co-ed chain of fitness centers in the world.

Gold's Gym, which boasts 3 million worldwide members, has 10 locations in Minnesota, three in Montana and none in South Dakota. But its regional footprint is larger, with 13 locations in Illinois, 10 in Missouri, four in Wisconsin and three each in Iowa and Nebraska.

Gold's Gym, which opened more than 80 new fitness centers last year, continues to expand aggressively through new corporate and franchise locations.

Albright said in recent months that Gold's Gym also has started a new strategy to grow its brand -- converting existing independent fitness centers into franchise locations after rebranding and sometimes upgrading the facilities.

"We're excited about the brand and the future," he said. "We are the authority on fitness. Our niche is serious fitness. The difference with us is because of our history and experience in bodybuilding, we know how to get results for the average guy and girl. Our mission is to provide each of our members with the ultimate fitness experience every day."

Gold's Gym was founded in 1965 in Venice, Calif., and gained notoriety when it was featured in the 1977 film "Pumping Iron," which featured bodybuilders Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno.

The chain features free weights, group exercise classes, cardio equipment, aerobics, circuit training, yoga and Pilates. Most locations also offer child care and some include an indoor pool, basketball or handball courts.

Schuster covers business. Reach him at (701) 780-1107; (800) 477-6572, ext. 107; or send e-mail to [email protected] Read his business blog at


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