You’ll Never Guess How the Gold’s Gym Challenge Got its Start

December 27, 2018

Our annual 12-week body transformation challenge, known nationwide as the Gold’s Gym Challenge, is kicking off this month. With thousands of participants throughout the U.S., the Challenge has become a huge marketing and membership boost for us over the last few years. But you may not know that the Challenge itself was actually the idea of a Gold’s Gym franchisee, and it began with a nutritional challenge centered on, of all things, apples.

Where It All Began

The Gold’s Gym Challenge started in Wenatchee, Washington, during the summer of 1998 as a way to encourage members to come into the gym in a region where outdoor recreation is practically a religion.

Personal Trainer and Registered Dietician Tammi Flynn encouraged her clients to eat fruit with every meal so they would consume enough produce. Most of her clients chose apples since they were tasty and portable. The members found it easy to lose weight eating three apples a day. The apple recommendation soon became a normal part of the Wenatchee Gold’s Gym Challenge.

Over time, Gold’s Gym members in the area joined in on the challenge that eventually, the Washington Apple Commission took notice of the huge spike in apple consumption. The Washington Apple Commission and Gold’s Gym International decided to partner up and promote the “$500,000 Gold’s Gym Challenge.” Tammi Flynn published a book titled The Three Apple-a-Day Plan featuring the Gold’s Gym Challenge throughout.

The Challenge Spreads Coast-to-Coast

After so much success, Bill Austin, a Gold’s Gym franchisee in the Catskill Mountain region of New York, saw it as a huge opportunity to grow. Bill’s organization, led by partner Dave Kenyon, found more and more ways to leverage the Challenge into a powerful and sustainable community event. It was their team that shifted the Challenge from being an in-gym event to a community-wide event that could attract new members.

Then, in August of 2006, being far away from the reach of the Washington Apple Commission, Gold’s Gym franchisee Blair McHaney and his partner Jacki Thomas called Bill and asked him if he wanted to match a $5,000 prize donation to create a cross-country community of members working for the big prize of $10,000. Bill consulted with Dave and the Challenge was on. Both teams collaborated on everything, creating advertising materials, a Challenge manual, a set of orientations and awards banquets.

Over the next few years, the prize money grew from $10,000 to $75,000. The entire prize pool was comprised of $5,000 “bets” made by franchisees beginning in 2007 for the year 2008 and was raised through the efforts of the Gold’s Gym Franchise Association. Since then, the Gold’s Gym Challenge has been adopted by other franchisees and has grown every year and was eventually adopted by all corporate-owned Gold’s Gym in 2011.

The Challenge Today

With the franchisees and corporate working together on the Gold’s Gym Challenge, it has grown to become our annual signature event, and one of the leading 12-week body transformation contests in the United States. The prize pool has grown to $100,000, thanks to the donations of supporting suppliers, and has helped launched the Challenge into a nationwide phenomenon.

Other franchisees have embraced the Challenge as a promotional model and have learned to use it as a tool to improve their performance in all areas of operations including marketing and public relations, sales and revenue, team goal setting, and more.

The Gold’s Gym Challenge is a collaboration between Gold’s Gym and the Gold’s Gym Franchisee Association and brings the Gold’s Gym community together to help others achieve their potential through fitness.

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