Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Healthy Competition

“If you think Sir Richard Branson has already successfully done it all, brace yourself - the multi-billion dollar entrepreneur is about to stir up further healthy competition on Aussie shores with a new series of Virgin gyms. The latest arm of the Virgin brand, Virgin Active gyms, promises bigger clubs, cheaper rates and no complicated contracts, essentially giving other major players in the fitness industry a run for their money. According to the marketing hype, Virgin Active is already one of the largest health club businesses in the world, with over 170 clubs and more than 900,000 members since its inception in 1999. Incidentally, the chain started in South Africa when Nelson Mandela called Branson to tell him one of their health chains was going to go bust and hundreds of jobs would be lost. Virgin Active opened and now has 80 clubs across South Africa. So, how does Virgin Active compare to its competition? Branson insists: Virgin Blue build 5000 or 6000 square metre clubs as opposed to 2000 or 3000 square metres. People don't have to line or pile into studios. There are an array of mind/body classes to choose from. All clubs boast 25m swimming pools as well as sleep pods for a quick daytime power nap! Virgin Active won't have contracts. Instead, they run on two-weekly rolling payments. Initially members sign up for a month and then roll on every two weeks. They need to give three days notice prior to payment coming out to cancel. Memberships will cost around $20/week. Virgin Active is currently developing sites across Australia. The very first Australian club opened in Frenchs Forest, Sydney in December 2008, and in June 2009, Melbourne will welcome its very own at 138 Bourke St.”


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