Fight the Good Fight: Why Gyms Need to Collaborate, Not Compete!

Fight the Good Fight: Why Gyms Need to Collaborate, Not Compete!
By Erin Phelan

By Erin Phelan

Fitness Industry Council of Canada

In the height of the pandemic, the fitness industry was united. Facing a shared experience – with members pausing and canceling their memberships, navigating government regulations, and having to struggle to stay afloat – fitness businesses put aside their differences and came together like never before.


This was out of the box behavior in an industry where traditionally competition has not only been fierce, but often cutthroat, where each facility slashes prices to compete, goes into a bloodbath over membership recruitment, and tries to outdo each other on facilities, amenities and equipment.


If running a business isn’t hard enough, the constant fight adds a new dimension. But Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC), the voice of the Canadian fitness industry, believes the time has come for fitness businesses to try something new.


“The fitness industry must realize that by competing against each other, they are in the wrong fight,” says Gabriel Hardy, Executive Director of FIC. “We need to come together and fight against enemy number one: Sedentary Lifestyles.”


In fact, recent data and research suggests that there is a seismic shift taking place within the industry towards collaboration rather than cutthroat competition and that the key to success for gyms might be how we work together.


What the Trends Tell Us


Fitness changed radically in the last decade. In fact, according to research from IHRSA, gym enthusiasts want more than just a place to lift weights or run on the treadmill. “Particularly when we look at Gen Z – which is the fastest growing demographic in our facilities – we see that they want a holistic wellness experience that is addressing their overall well-being,” says Hardy. “This is a shift in consumer expectations, and you might need a more comprehensive approach to what you are offering.”


This can mean collaborating with yoga spaces, meditation centers, cold-plunge businesses, holistic nutritionists and increasing what you can offer to meet the demands. “In this scenario – everyone wins. Every business see a bump in their revenues, and most importantly you are able to help your clients in new ways,” says Hardy. “They will also be more likely to stay with you if you are providing them with more for their membership.”

Collaborate Creatively


If there are two CrossFit gyms in town – why not join forces in your marketing efforts? “This will take a huge leap of faith, but you have two gyms competing for the same piece of the pie – fit, CrossFit athletes – when half of the pie goes uneaten,” says Hardy, owner of Tonic CrossFit in Quebec City. “Ask someone who is inactive if they think they can do CrossFit and they will look at you like you are crazy. Meanwhile, we can look at combining marketing budgets on a specific campaign that talks about the benefits of CrossFit for all!’


According to a study by McKinsey & Company, shared resources and collaborative marketing strategies result in cost savings of up to 30% for participating gyms. These savings can be reinvested in enhancing facilities, hiring qualified trainers, or improving customer experiences – all of which contribute to long-term success.


Create a Health Ecosystem


If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that gym-goers can and do engage in various wellness activities outside our facilities. In fact, 28.7 percent of runners took up the sport during the pandemic. Data shows that many of our gym members hold multiple memberships – the low budget high value facility to lift weights, and the yoga studio down the stress. “We need to embrace and continue to grow this health ecosystem,” says Hardy. “This is where supporting each other creates a valuable experience for your members. If you are a spin studio, you should know who owns the Pilates studio, what traditional gym offers a similar community to yours where you members can go and lift weights. We are all in the business of health and lifestyle change!”


According to one study, 71% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better experience. 


Be Part of the Community


Gyms are a central part of the community, and in Canada we see this the most. An FIC survey found that more than fitness facilities were stand-alone facilities owned by a sole proprietor. “The impact gyms have in the community is huge,” says Hardy. “And given that more than 50% of the Canadian population is completely sedentary, we have the opportunity to change our communities – together.”


Research published in the Journal of Physical Activity shows that community-based fitness initiatives have a positive effect on health, reducing obesity rates and improving overall well-being. “We have an epic fight in front of us, and one that we can only do together,” says Hardy. “We need to combine our efforts and learn to collaborate for not only the sustainability of our industry – but to increase physical activity levels in Canada. We are stronger together, and this can empower us to achieve far more than we can alone.”

There’s room for everyone in our mission to increase physical activity levels in Canada. If we succeed, there may soon be more gym-goers than gyms to accommodate them!


This isn’t about “Globo Gyms vs Crossfit” or “low cost vs high value”; it’s about uniting against sedentary lifestyles and chronic diseases that are currently impacting so many lives. Let’s be the driving force that elevates Canadian fitness, delivering powerful and solid messages. Together, we represent over 7000 businesses and, more importantly, 6 million gym members – citizens and … voters !

Let’s join forces to fight this good fight, shaping the future of our nation!

Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) is the not-for profit trade association that represents the voice of fitness facility operators across Canada. Representing more than 6,000 facilities with more than six-million members nationwide, FIC pursues a legislative agenda in the hope of bettering the fitness industry for both consumers and operators. FIC aims to work with both industry and government to improve the health and physical activity levels of Canadians.

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