Grand Rapids area fitness and powerlifting mecca is no more
Maybe it’s just the natural cycle of life, but sometimes good gyms go out of business. It was a real shame to find out yesterday morning that the weekend rumors about Beckwith’s Gym in Grandville, Michigan were true.
As I pulled into the parking lot at 3040 28th Street SW yesterday morning to meet with one of my personal training clients, I quickly noticed the lights were off and the interior looked eerily vacant for the normally active time of 11am.
Having been around the fit-biz block a few times, I immediately realized that Beckwith’s Gym’s time has come (and mysteriously gone sometime over the weekend).
I only discovered the gym a few months earlier. Always on the lookout for resources that I can direct clients, readers, friends and fans to, I heard talk of this dinosaur-style gym since moving to Grand Rapids a year earlier.
Yet every time I set out in search of the mythical Beckwith’s, I always wound up at their previous location (with an entrance in the back of a retired bowling alley) that always had a “closed” sign on the door. I just assumed it was because it was such an exclusive, powerlifting-niche club, they only had a handful of dedicated members who’d meet there at specific times. I wanted to know the secret handshake to get in – so I checked back every couple of months.
It was finally mid-summer before I thought to track ’em down via the internet (this may come as a surprise to some of you younguns, but even though I consider myself a bit of a tech-geek, we old-timers sometimes take a bit longer to remember that google knows EVERYTHING).
I emailed one of their trainers who quickly replied that they moved about 3 miles west earlier in the year and they have typical operating hours. Finally – all I had to do was make the 20 minute drive to Grandville and I’d see what all the talk was about.
When I walked in I was greeted by “Pops” – the 73 year old majority owner and one heck of a deadlifter, too! We got to talking and I quickly understood that they were finding their new location (and the low-ball priced area competitors) to be forces they weren’t quite equipped to handle.
Membership at gyms like Beckwith’s are usually in the $40/month range but they found themselves competing against the franchised outfits with healthy marketing budgets and the ability to undercut the “real” gyms with membership as low as $12/month.
“Pops” knee-jerk response in order to stay competitive was to offer an annual membership for just $180 – with NO ‘initiation fee’ and no contractual obligation to renew.
So I asked him what he would offer when the franchises went down to $10/month… Or $5.
Being the lowest price option is rarely the best way to be profitable, but he needed to get people in the door to even have a chance to sell ’em on the Beckwith’s ideal of training.
Because he was so set on competing strictly on PRICE, I suggested he take the low-ball approach to the max and give membership away for FREE. He looked at me like I just escaped the loonie-bin.
It was at this point I explained what I do. Not wanting him to be the only one ‘risking’ anything by giving away membership to his gym, I even offered to throw in my personal training services for free.
“But how do we make any MONEY?” he understandably asked.
[to be continued…]
Have you purchased a Beckwith’s Gym membership and have nowhere to train? Be sure to watch the following short video…