IRVING, TX — For franchisees Kirk and John Galiani, the Gold's Gym family has been more than just a family. The brothers actually have relatives operating within the Gold's franchise system.
So it's understandable that the Galianis' move to create their own brand, Onelife Fitness, was not easy on them or on the folks at Irving, TX-based Gold's Gym International (GGI). After all, the Galianis became Gold's franchisees in 1990 and were part-owners of GGI from 1999 to 2004.
“We've thought about owning and starting a brand for quite some time, but leaving a brand that we love so much is extremely difficult,” Kirk Galiani says. “We felt that this was the right thing for our company, to start something from scratch.”
The official launch of Onelife Fitness was Oct. 1, although discussions to break away from Gold's have been taking place for at least a year. The Galianis converted five of their former Gold's clubs in the Hampton Roads section of Virginia to their new brand. Three more Gold's clubs that the Galianis operated in West Virginia and Maryland were in the process of sales negotiations as of press time.
Although the Galianis and GGI say that the parting was amicable, it wasn't always that way. The day after Onelife Fitness officially launched, GGI sent an internal memo to Gold's staff and franchisees threatening to take legal action against the Galianis.
The dispute came about when the Galianis leaked news of their leaving Gold's on social media Web sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, says Joel Tallman, senior vice president of franchising and global operations for GGI. Tallman adds that the use of the Gold's logo was not depicted properly in those announcements.
“I think there were some complete misunderstandings, probably on both sides, in the sense that we had been discussing this and how the departure would work for a long time,” Tallman says. “It caught us as a complete surprise that it came out the way it did.”
The Galianis referred questions about the Internet postings to Gold's but added that the issue has been resolved.
The recent announcement of James Weaver's resignation as Gold's CEO and the appointment of Jim Snow as its new president did not factor into the Galianis' decision, they say.
“We really want Gold's Gym to continue to grow and take it to the next level, and we can tell our kids and grandkids that hey, we were a part of that and helped that brand grow,” says Kirk Galiani, who adds that he's pleased with Gold's direction, led by its parent company, TRT Holdings.
The Galianis are molding Onelife Fitness into a family-oriented, full-service club. Some of the amenities at the last club they built include swimming pools and basketball and racquetball courts. The clubs range from 45,000 to 65,000 square feet. The brothers may grow the brand in different markets, and they may look at other opportunities in the industry.
“Our intent is not to be competitors with Gold's Gym,” John Galiani says. “It's a big world out there.”