Five Gold's Gym locations in Columbia, South Carolina, have rebranded as MÜV Fitness, Spokane, Washington.
The rebrand of the five clubs, which were franchised Gold's Gym locations owned by St. Andrew Fitness Corp., Columbia, went into effect Dec. 1. St. Andrews Fitness Corp. President John Burriss told Club Industry that his decision to rebrand was driven by a desire for expansion. The company plans to open a sixth MÜV Fitness location in Columbia in April 2016.
"We had a great relationship with Gold's Gym," Burriss said. "I love the brand, love the people in it and have lifelong friends in the franchise community."
St. Andrews Fitness Corp., which formed in 1986 prior to becoming a Gold's Gym franchisee, was unable to expand further as Gold's Gym in Columbia due to a corporate decision by Gold's Gym International (GGI), Dallas, Burriss said. St. Andrews Fitness Corp. exercised an option to exit its contract with Gold's Gym on Dec. 1, ending an 18-year run as a Gold's Gym franchisee.
"Nothing against GGI for not allowing that [expansion] – they made a corporate decision," Burriss said. "As I told them, I might be making the same decision if I were in their shoes. But, at the same time, we needed to expand."
The five Columbia MÜV Fitness locations, which average 45,000 square feet, have approximately 40,000 total members. Those members are under contract with St. Andrews Fitness Corp., not Gold's Gym, Burriss said.
Burriss is a partner in the MÜV Brands Inc. ownership group with fitness industry veterans Joel Tallman, Jack Tawney, Chip Schwerzel and Jeff Carlson. Tallman is CEO of MÜV Brands Inc., which has 10 locations operating nationally: four big-box-style MÜV Fitness clubs in Spokane, the first MÜV Training boutique-style club in Portland, Oregon, and 12 affiliate clubs (owned by Tawney) in the Pacific Northwest. Membership dues at MÜV Fitness range between $36 and $39 per month, and dues at MÜV Training are $129 per month. The company has plans to franchise MÜV Brands in third quarter 2016, Tallman told Club Industry.
The relationship between Burriss and Tallman dates back 15 years when Burriss was the third Gold's Gym Franchisee Association president and Tallman was the Gold's Gym senior vice president of global operations.
"John and I used to sit at opposite sides of the table and stare each other down, and we became quite good friends during that process," Tallman said. "That's probably where our relationship really started, and we've stayed in contact."
That relationship – along with relationships with Tawney, Schwerzel and Carlson – combined with the desire to expand led to Burriss' decision to move forward with MÜV Fitness.
"It starts with people, and you have to respect and fully trust those people, which I did," Burris said. "They (MÜV Brands) had proven programming that we wanted to implement in Columbia. We wanted to change our culture from more of a sales-driven culture to a results-driven culture. They had the programs in place that were proven."