Saracco spoke to Athletech News about the new World Gym Signature Concept and the company’s strategic vision
In his current role as COO of World Gym, Jarrod Saracco is looking towards the future of the industry while maintaining the core values of the company. Saracco spoke about the newest Signature Gym Model, with includes a large training floor with cardio, a “connected cardio” section, and Studio X, a revolutionary new studio concept that a multi-dimensional, self-contained group training ecosystem, which reduces costs and increases member engagement.
Athletech News (ATN): What is World Gym’s differentiating point and what makes it unique from competitors?
JS: Well, it’s not what others are or aren’t providing. It’s more about how you deliver fitness, because there’s so many different ways of getting shape. There are so many different boutique studios. There’s something for everybody out there. But it’s more about what the consumer’s looking for now. The gym is back. The gym is cool again. Just open Instagram, open TikTok. And it’s not just guys. Women are flocking to the weight room more than ever. They go to the gym. It’s a lifestyle. The mindset has changed. And our gyms have to change if we’re going to continue to deliver fitness in a way that people consume it. A lot of people go to studios and have a secondary membership at a gym. So, why not be able to provide an experience all under one roof? So, that’s where the concept came from as well. I’m just minimizing the amount of space that I needed delivering a great unbelievable. experience, you know, changing the dynamic and the fitness for to meet the needs of today’s consumer.
ATN: Do you feel that social media push has been very present in your gym?
JS: Social media has really changed the way the world works in general. People come in with full-blown tripods and selfie lights. I mean, it’s a show. It’s an absolute show. Well, if they’re going do that in my gym, that’s a branding and advertising opportunity for me. So, I better make sure that the gym looks great, has a great environment. And in our new legacy model, the model we released a strength-only model a couple of weeks back, we put a selfie room in. It’s not a bodybuilding posing room. It’s a selfie room. Social media has had an influence on us one way or another.
ATN: Can you talk a little bit about Studio X?
JS: Studio X takes on a couple of different issues. As a gym person, I look at the boutique market and I go, wow, these people are paying $100, $150, $200 a month to go to this little thing that’s as big as my reception area. Instead of building multiple studios that sit empty 60-80% of the time, I have one studio that’s multifaceted, on demand, can be live and tied in around the world, and can deliver traditional group X classes and specialty boutique style classes all in one. So, I maximize my flooring, I maximize my overhead, I maximize my member experience and I minimize from a business perspective, you know, all the things that drive me nuts.
ATN: How will the fitness industry continue to balance this need for customization and keeping it accessible to everyone?
JS: Well, I think it’s a great question and I guess we’re going to find out, right? But this generation right now, when you look at Gen Z, Gen X, and millennials, the one thing that you’re starting to see is that they’re really into the gym, they’re really into health and fitness.
We had a run for a long time about childhood obesity and kids and there’s been a lot of time, but now you’re starting to see those kids, they’re turning into the workout-aholics and they like sharing that experience. It’s up to us as gym people to figure out ways to create environments that are comfortable for everybody.
And I feel like we really did that with Studio X. If you’re not comfortable being out in the main gym, when that studio is empty, you can go in there and pop on the screen and have on-demand classes, if you want to do it on your own and feel comfortable in your own skin. The recovery areas is for mental health days, because everyone needs a mental health day, right? There are these great pods that you can sit and relax and decompress and it’s really about what we need as a society. I always say give the people what they want. And as you do so, teach them what they need. And our new Signature model is really designed to meet the needs and desires of today’s consumer, including a great balance of technological offerings.
ATN: How is your franchise growth strategy evolving?
JS: Being around for 46 years, we’ve had our ups and downs like everybody else, right? We are one of the few original American gym brands that is left standing. We’ve got amazing international growth in Taiwan, Australia, Egypt, even just across the border in Canada. But our U.S. focus got lost for a while prior to my arrival and the CEO’s arrival.
And we have a renewed focus on U.S. growth. We’re looking to strategically grow the World Gym brand again right here on home turf and put units back on the street here in the United States.
So that means we’re looking for more savvy owners. This can be a really great investment for someone who’s passionate about health and fitness. Look at how volatile the stock market is and other investments: the one thing that’s not going anywhere is health and fitness. So, we are looking for a savvier investor and owner, someone who’s not looking for a single gym, but looks at it as a growth strategy and a financial business, right? That’s how we’re going to scale this up. Offering the two different models now gives us a little bit of flexibility in doing that, being able to cover different territories and so forth. So, we’re positioning ourselves really nicely. And just as people are selective about a franchise organization that they do business with, we’re being just a selective in return to make sure that we’re partnering with the right type of people to help grow our brands right here on home soil. Interested parties can visit worldgymfranchising.com.
ATN: How do you empower your employees to embody World Gym’s mission and strategy, particularly in a franchise model?
JS: We are fortunate to have some great people. During the pandemic, a lot of companies cut talent. And we were a company that decided to play offense in a world playing defense. So, we were able to go out there and get a great team of industry people who really understood the business from an operations perspective and had a lot of years of experience doing it. I would die for my team. I love my group, you know, and they know that. But what’s great about us as a unit is that we all believe in the same thing and that mission that we have at World Gym is to improve people’s lives through fitness. You’ll find that every one of us is passionate about doing it.
So, when we can come together on that common ground, we can figure out anything, you know, and so that’s why I said we can conquer the world literally with that in mind. That’s the kind of approach we take, and one of our core values is being relentless. Whatever it take to get the job done, whatever we got to do to make it happen. And, you know, these new models are a result of that. So, our culture is very much just win, baby.