HOW To: Gymfear To Gymfearlessness


Gym developers if you’re not competing like Disney, Steve Jobs or Musk, you’re missing the whole point of their genii, their brilliance at promoting their offerings.

Marketing prowess, courage and business savvy is the embodiment of Walt Disney’s genius, the wizard who created the “Destination Resort” displacing traditional vacation venues of tropical beaches, misty mountains and country retreats.

Disney built Disneyland as a tool to manipulate consumer consciousness — a vehicle to drive revenue, repeat, drive revenue.

He endeavoured to shift consumer expectations of what a family vacation might be. Disney created “entertainment experiences” that would transcend the mundane and repetitive routines of our daily lives.

He sought to trigger the consumer’s psyche; what American psychologist James Olds discovered in 1957 and described as the rewards centre of the human brain.

HOW To: Gymfear To Gymfearlessness - MELTRXFITNESS

Disney was a predatory, articulate and persuasive salesman who operated at the highest levels of entrepreneurship; and gym developers are still fearful of creating innovative new gym models believing that consumers won’t get it?

Consider “why guy” Tony Robbins who advocates that we should model and emulate those behaviours, actions and strategies of those whom we admire, and whom have found success, prior to us having found our own.

This is precisely the argument I’m making for gym owners who continue building gyms that look like gyms, or gyms that look like boutique hotels. Everyone is doing that.

Do you think Disney would have built a gym that looked like another snobby boutique hotel?

HOW To: Gymfear To Gymfearlessness - POOLSPACE

The case I’m making is that you need to let go of your obsolete marketing prejudices, your shadow fear of building a new gym concept that is outside your comfort zone.

Your gym design is not what you like, it’s what you need to do in order to seduce consumers to buy into your brand. Gym design should be a first principal marketing effort laser focused on raising fitness consumers’ expectations of your brand, in your demographic, of what a gym might be.


Every commerce category shifts and those on the downside of the bell curve, those with their head in the sand, and those resistant to change, are often one and the same, those who succumb to their antiquated beliefs (and practices) and are forced to shutter their doors.

The horse had his Ford, Blockbuster his Netflix, and the legacy gym his Big-Box competitor. Then came the gym franchise monster, and now the boutiques. Pray tell, what’s a gym owner to do?

Market like Disney is what the gym owner must do! Force a shift of consumer expectations and be the gym that your competitors are not. Reframe the operating narrative. Position yourself outside of the tribes, be purposely “off-grid”.

Your best strategy should begin with an exploratory and fearless mind set in the development of a gym concept, a brand concept.

Again, be fearless, be conceptual, be experimental, be exploratory and throw caution to the wind.

  • Abandon green AstroTurf, rubber floors and industrial lighting fixtures of the gyms that look like gyms.
  • Reject chic tufted sofas, wood wall paneling and colour changing lighting; the chill-vibe employed by countless boutique studios.
  • Retain a super skilled graphic designer and develop a super cool logo, but also in some way, a logo that telegraphs a fitness aesthetic.

Make it unique and highly branded. If you have to reinvent your logo, then do so. Thereafter design and reinforce every feature of your gym in some way which back-links and reinforces your brand concept (and new logo).

HOW To: Gymfear To Gymfearlessness - CHANGINGSPACE

Listen, you’re still delivering a fitness program to the public, you’re not changing your offering or business model.

You’re doing what Disney did; creating inspiring experiences, inspiring fitness experiences.

You’re triggering consumer’s psyche, their rewards centres, you’re elevating their training journey’s, you’re upstaging your competitors, and you’re moving beyond obsolete gym offerings.

Its 2020 gym developers. Stop building gyms that look like gyms and boutique hotels. Scale your brand by abandoning your shadow fears. Market like Disney and create fearless fitness adventures that shift consumers’ perceptions of what a gym might be.

All’s fair in gym love and war, Cuoco Black.

[box type=”info” align=”aligncenter” class=”” width=””]About Cuoco Black:
Cuoco Black is a trusted and respected master fitness facility designer, gym brand architect and design academic. A former faculty member of the New York School of Interior Design, Black advocates for the development of conceptual and theatrical gym models that dominate consumer attention in any fitness marketplace. Promoting an ideal that fitness facilities must embrace design attributes which embrace luxury, telegraph fitness, motivate fitness consumers to exercise; and most importantly, amplify the brand. His work includes independent gyms, PT studios, women’s only facilities, residential fitness centres and franchise models. Find out More at  Instagram/GymDesigner.[/box]

[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” class=”” width=””]Related articles:
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Article written by Cuoco Black for the What’s New in Fitness Magazine – Summer 2019 Edition.

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