It isn’t easy replacing an icon, but Impact Fitness met the challenge when it took over the former Gold’s Gym in Worcester, MA, two years ago and converted it from a hardcore gym into a more family-friendly facility. It wasn’t so much of a physical change to the gym as a change in philosophy to expose more people in the community to the benefits of fitness compared to its previous more limited focus.
Members have responded well to the transition. “We had a few who left the gym, primarily because they utilized Gold’s worldwide travel privileges,” says Managing Partner and General Manager Steve Chaplin, “but members were generally happy to be distanced from the ‘musclehead’ stigma that is so often associated with the Gold’s name.”
Chaplin’s comment is not meant to be a “slam” against Gold’s but, rather, a simple truth about how Gold’s Gym – rightly or wrongly – is often perceived by the public. It’s just how people feel. It’s not a slam against bodybuilding either but more against the attitude of the “wannabes” in the sport who trash the facilities and disrespect other members with their intimidating behavior. We’ve all seen them, and we know who they are.
But, legitimate bodybuilders and other dedicated athletes should not be concerned that Impact’s facilities have been compromised. This is still a gym where even the most die-hard lifter can get a good workout, but it now offers more for the average person too.
The front desk features a traditional check-in counter together with juice bar, and there is a well-organized retail display of sportswear in the lobby. From there on, it’s all exercise equipment – lots of it – including two separate cardio areas, row after row of selectorized resistance training machines, and tons of free weights. There are also some specialty pieces such as a stretching cage and heavy bag.
The gym also has a separate studio for group cycling and another studio for classes in Zumba, Group Step, Group Kick, Group Centergy, Group Core, P90X, and Silver Sneakers. Locker rooms are exceptionally spacious and well-maintained, and there is a nicely-appointed childcare room where parents can drop off their children while they exercise.
“We are currently building a new functional training area to be used by all members but primarily for our Small Group Training, Personal Training, and Group Core Classes,” adds Chaplin, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Work on this area is expected to be completed in early November of this year.
This gym is not easy to find, however, tucked in a semi-industrial area of Worcester (the second largest city in New England after Boston), but Impact has greatly enhanced the physical profile of the gym via the installation of two large interactive signs that flash inspirational messages to attract passersby. To readers who might have trouble finding it, it’s worth it.
Earlier this year, Impact took over another muscle icon – Powerhouse Gym – in nearby Auburn, MA. Clearly have a winning formula.
“In an industry which has become increasingly dominated by both the low-priced low-service clubs and the high-priced multi-sport clubs, we have been able to create a mid-sized mid-priced model that is singularly focused on providing the absolute best fitness services and facilities,” says Chaplin. “Our members are not just numbers, and we are dedicated to making regular, results-oriented exercise a permanent part of every member’s life.”
Now we know the formula. The secret is out. It’s called customer service. Works every time.