How Blink Fitness Is Redefining the Meaning of ‘Value’ in the HVLP Segment

Blink Fitness is living proof that low-price gyms don't have to come with a bad member experience.

When the United States entered the recession in 2008, fitness-conscious consumers had to make difficult decisions about how to stretch their tightening budgets without sacrificing exercise. This conundrum gave rise to the High Volume, Low Price (HVLP) model, and gym-goers began to trade in their high- and mid-range health club memberships for facilities that cost a fraction of the price.

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The only problem was that, in some cases, with the low price came a poor experience. For the most part members were willing to put up with overcrowding and dirty facilities in exchange for savings. But the leadership team at Blink Fitness looked at the HVLP space and saw an opportunity.

“When we launched Blink Fitness in 2011, we challenged the paradigm that ‘you get what you pay for’ in the HVLP segment by offering our members a luxury experience and ‘Mood Above Muscle’ philosophy—a fresh approach to fitness that celebrates the positive feelings you get from exercise, not just the physical benefits,” says Todd Magazine, president of Blink Fitness.

And that fresh approach is reaping results. Blink Fitness grew to 50 clubs by the end of 2016, and it currently has more than 60 company-owned locations open or in development in the New York tri-state area and more than a quarter-million members.

5 Elements of Blink’s ‘Feel Good Experience’

Blink brings its Mood Above Muscle ethos to life with what they call their “Feel Good Experience,” which offers five things they believe no other gym in the HVLP segment is providing.

  1. It’s all about people. Blink hires passionate people with high energy, who they call “Mood Lifters.” While they are there to help manage the gym, their primary role is to create a positive and uplifting environment.
  2. Looks matter… for the facility. “Our gyms don’t look or feel like other gyms in the HVLP segment,” Magazine says. “From our colors, to lighting, to space, Blink gyms have a luxury feel in terms of design.”
  3. Keep things clean. Cleanliness and equipment upkeep are some of Blink’s top priorities. To achieve their cleanliness goals, they follow a simple philosophy—“Everybody Cleans.” “Whether you’re working at the front desk or you’re the president of the company, you are re-racking weights, wiping down machines, picking trash up off the floor, etc.,” Magazine says.
  4. Music motivates. So much so that Blink curates its music based on beats per minute to ensure it drives club energy to the next level.
  5. Accessible training programs. Blink offers a free personal training session to every member who joins in order to help people start their fitness journey. Sessions start at only $27.

“While we are devoted to bringing a premium experience despite being just $15 per month through these five pillars, we also focus on maintaining profitability,” Magazine says. “To ensure we’re profitable, we’re always looking at ways to optimize the space in clubs to improve member satisfaction and limit attrition. We also concentrate on continued growth of ancillary revenue streams like retail and personal training.”

“Blink has always been a place where people of all fitness levels can come together, feel a sense of community, and achieve their varying goals.”

Todd Magazine, President

Blink Fitness

Changing Rhetoric of the Fitness Industry

Blink Fitness’ Feel Good Experience doesn’t start and end within the four walls of the health club—it permeates every layer of the brand.

While much of the fitness industry’s advertising focuses on perfectly toned bodies and intense weight loss programs, Blink has decided to promote what Magazine calls “a more authentic and sustainable solution for fitness.”

“Essentially, when we associate working out with a positive emotion, as opposed to just focusing on physical changes, we tend to keep coming back to the gym and making it a lifestyle habit—versus an attempt at a quick fix,” he says.

This mindset inspired Blink’s “Every Body Happy” campaign, which featured real members of all body types.

The campaign “inspires us to have a serious conversation about how we all approach fitness and appreciate body diversity,” Magazine says. “Blink celebrates the fact that ‘fit’ looks different on everyone, a message that resonates with members and brings the Blink community together.”

A Path of Rapid Growth

As Blink continues to grow, its leadership is looking for more opportunities for expansion in the future.

According to Magazine, Blink is planning to reach more than 300 company-owned and franchise clubs nationwide by 2020 by expanding its franchising program and company-owned growth into a number of new cities.

“Blink Fitness is seeking single and multi-unit operators,” he says. “We are in active conversation with franchise candidates throughout the country and are looking into various cities for company-owned market launches, as well.”

Blink launched its franchise program about a year ago. Since then, it has signed on two franchisees—The Bairrada Group and Amp Capital.

“Both franchisees are passionate about the Blink concept and believe it is something very special,” Magazine says. “We can’t wait until their locations open, and both are slated for 2017. We’re currently in active discussions with dozens of franchise prospects across the country, many of whom are smaller investors and others who are existing multi-unit, multi-concept franchisees.”

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Marianne Aiello

Marianne Aiello previously served as IHRSA's Senior Digital Content Manager—a position focused on crafting and monitoring IHRSA’s digital strategy and covering IHRSA events.