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Corner Office

What the Equinox CEO knew about lifestyle branding before the rest of us

Kai Ryssdal and Bridget Bodnar Jan 23, 2017
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When Harvey Spevak came on board at Equinox in 1998, the fitness company had a handful of clubs scattered across Manhattan. Today, they have almost 90 clubs scattered across the United States, with locations in Canada and another in the UK. With Spevak as CEO, Equinox acquired SoulCycle, an indoor cycling studio, and launched Blink, a no-frills gym franchise.

Spevak on what he knew about Equinox in 1998 that others:

I knew we would be very successful but the success has been well beyond what I’ve anticipated. But what I saw was a special brand that really had gotten into the DNA of its members. It was a badge of honor, and I thought that there was an opportunity to take that and smartly scale that around the country. So what is interesting is when we went to raise capital in the late 1990s, I had to defend against whether the gym business was a fad business. The world has changed greatly, and I think that is not a trend, that is a reality and that’s going to go on for years to come.

On embracing the high-cost of membership:

I don’t think it’s just for the coastal elite. Certainly we are not the cheapest guys out there, but the members have said to us repeatedly, “That’s ok as long as you deliver,” and we deliver. And they have also proven to us that they’ll pay more as long as we deliver more and so that’s something that we are constantly evaluating.

On Equinox’s next big project, a chain of Equinox hotels:

You know ten years ago, the avid gym goer, even our members, you were probably more extreme than the next person if you went twice a week. Today, it’s part of the daily routine, but when you travel on the road, it is hard to maintain that lifestyle. It’s hard to find a hotel with a good fitness experience. For the most part they are bad or really bad. And then there is the eating part and if you look at the room service menu — so the list goes on and on. There is nobody holistically thinking about “hey how do I maintain my healthy routine on the road?”

Listen to the complete interview on the Corner Office podcast.

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