Memphis entrepreneurs reach across the aisle and launch multi-gym membership service

Some monthly dues for gym memberships cut about as deep as a drive-thru value meal. But then again, you get what you pay for, which is usually access to rows of exercise equipment with one-on-one training, guidance and expertise in short supply.  

As group fitness and interval training dominate in fitness trends, boutique gyms with customized programming are popping up all over. Memphis is no exception.

Personal trainers and boutique gym memberships don’t come cheap. And if you are an athlete spending hours a day training, or in need of a customized workout for health reasons, the costs can be exorbitant as many of the latest training techniques span a variety of disciplines.

But diversiFIT co-founders Cole and Lauren Giovanetti are looking to change with the trends of the fitness landscape with their boutique group fitness membership startup.

“Many people are beyond the $20 a month, go run on a treadmill. They’re realizing for true fitness — really changing your physique and health — they need custom fitness." said Lauren Giovanetti, diversiFIT co-founder.

She said her husband Cole is an "extreme" weekend warrior athlete, and his devotion to fitness bore a heavy price tag. 

A diverse fitness regime requires training for strength, flexibility and endurance. Memberships to boutique gyms that cater to specific or greater needs can run upwards of $250 a month each.

“As his wife, who is very thrifty, I said enough of these gyms. We can’t have a $600 a month gym habit. That’s not realistic for anybody,” said Giovanetti.

Out of their financial impasse, the idea for diversiFIT took shape. It consolidates a membership plan around first-rate fitness operations at a more affordable price. DiversiFit monthly membership costs $250.

Lauren (left) and her husband Cole Giovanetti (right) facilitate open access to the latest fitness trend by offering cross memberships to boutique gyms. Partners like Will Coleman (center) from ColemanNCompany expand offerings from bootcamp training to hot yoga with a flat monthly membership fee. (DiversiFIT)

“He didn’t want to stop going to all of these different gyms so he basically created this concept [of diversiFIT] for himself where he could go to a variety of boutique, high-end gyms.

These aren’t the 24-hour gyms with a bunch of treadmills. There’s coaching. There’s high-end attention,” said Giovanetti.

After tossing his idea around, he found out he wasn’t alone. Other people he crossed paths with also paid for multiple memberships and personal training. Seeing a potential customer base, Cole began pitching the idea to places like Hot Yoga Plus and Will Coleman, former Memphis Tiger basketball standout, for his boot camp.

“There are people out there who want everything — spinning, yoga, CrossFit, HIIT training,” said Susannah Herring, owner of Hot Yoga Plus.

In June 2018, the couple launched diversiFIT with five partner gyms and a mobile app.

For the participating fitness studios, the classes run whether they are full or have two people in them. So, they give diversiFIT between two to five spots in a class that they, otherwise, might not fill.

“It’s a way to fill up classes, see some additional revenue, and also, our members are extremely active and post online about all of their workouts,” said Lauren Giovanetti. “We encourage them to market for our gyms — post about the workouts, talk about the gyms. We want to be a vehicle for fitness but the stars are the gyms.”

DiversiFIT customers sign up and schedule classes through their app, which automatically populates into the scheduling software of each participating gym.

“All our teachers have to do is check a box to sign the diversiFIT members in,” said Herring.

Still in the first phase, the goal is to have 50 members signed up by the fall. So far, nearly 30 have joined diversiFIT.

Members gain access to a variety of options. In addition to yoga, workouts like CrossFit, cycling, running and even recovery are available. Current partners include ColemanNCompany, CycleBar, CrossFit Chickasaw, Shed Fitness (opened in early August), Flow Performance + Recovery and CrossFit Hit and Run Triad.

“We also partnered with Will Coleman, former Memphis Tiger basketball player, who runs a boot camp three days a week. So, we have that boot camp, personal trainer aspect as well,” said Giovanetti.

There is unlimited access to classes and programming, minus Crossfit, which is limited to two days a week, and four of Flow Recovery’s cryotherapy sessions per month.

An early adopter of the diversiFit model is Hank Tansey. A member of the Racquet Club, he also makes Orangetheory Fitness and Iron Tribe regular haunts. It didn’t come cheap. He was paying over $400 a month for limited access.

“I like to change it up. The thing I liked about Orangetheory is its different workouts. With this [diversiFIT], you have so many options,” said Tansey, who booked diversiFIT classes 34 times in July. “If I didn’t have this, I would have used Orangetheory just four days a week.”

Through use of the app’s calendar, he can spot openings to slip in a variety of workouts. Classes can also be booked up to two weeks in advance. Diversity has been added to his workouts - like integrating yoga into his weekly routine four times a week.

The flexibility of the model also affords an opportunity to see if a workout is the right fit. Herring says this is a great opportunity for Hot Yoga Plus to reach clients who may not otherwise do yoga.

And for those concerned about the bottom line while chasing personal bests, it also costs a lot less than multiple memberships. The value of what diversiFIT partners offer would total more than $1000 a month.

“I think it’s worth every penny. If you signed up for an unlimited package at Orangetheory or Iron Tribe or Crossfit, it’s anywhere from $180 to $250 a month for the one program. It seems steep but if you’re serious about working out, and work out at least four days a week and want some variety, it’s worth it,” said Tansey.

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