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Gymtopia. A place where clubs do social good

Cover Health Club Management magazine showing picture of Tanni Grey-Thompson former Paralympian in gold racing suit and set for the start of a race May 2015

Published in: Health Club Management , May 2015

By Ray Algar, Chief Engagement Officer, Gymtopia

Planet Fitness breast cancer awareness project

Ray Algar reports on Planet Fitness’ mission to raise funds for breast cancer.

This month’s Gymtopia story focuses on Planet Fitness, the fast-growing North American low-cost gym brand, and its four year partnership with Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) to raise much-needed funds for the charity.

For the last four years, the project took place during May to coincide with America’s celebration of Mothers’ Day.

How the project started
Back in 2010, Planet Fitness wanted to develop a project to coincide with Mothers’ Day, which in the US is held on the second Sunday in May. The gym brand was seeking to support a cause with deep significance and meaning on a day that celebrated women.

Following considerable research, Planet Fitness decided to align itself with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, founded by Evelyn H Lauder in 1993, whose everyday mission is to prevent and cure breast cancer by helping to advance the world’s most promising research in this area.

Why this cause matters to Planet Fitness
Every two minutes, an American woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. Some of these women may have a connection with Planet Fitness – a possibility that becomes ever more likely as the gym brand continues to grow its 900-strong club network across the United States and Canada. As Chris Rondeau, CEO of Planet Fitness, says: “We’re committed to helping improve people’s lives, through fitness and giving back to our communities, and with so many grandmothers, mothers and daughters touched by breast cancer, we felt this promotion was the perfect way to honour Mother’s Day.”

Read the remainder of this article by selecting the ‘download PDF’ button.

Pictture shows female personal trainer helping a male client in the gym

Published in: Fitness Business Canada, March 2015

By Graham Longwell

Gymtopia and the Canadian Fitness Industry

Gymtopia received some nice coverage in Fitness Business Canada, the country’s leading health club publication during March 2015. Here Graham Longwell, the Editor calls on the Canadian fitness industry to submit their charitable social impact projects to Gymtopia.

The Canadian fitness industry has long been associated with charity fundraising. Now clubs can share their passion and promote their events via Gymtopia, a digital storytelling platform for the fitness industry that captures and promotes social-impact projects around the world.

“I believe Gymtopia can help the global health and fitness industry to connect,engage and strengthen communities,” says founder Ray Algar, a U.K. strategic business analyst to the global fitness industry, on the Gymtopia website.

Read the remainder of this article by selecting the ‘download PDF’ button or clicking the yellow link above and going to page 10 of the online version of the magazine.

Picture showing a smiling Samantha Moyo, co-founder of Morning Gloryville – front cover of Health Club Management magazine March 2015

Published in: Health Club Management, March 2015

By Ray Algar, Chief Engagement Officer, Gymtopia

Baron Carl Gripenstedt – leaving a legacy

Ray Algar reports on the gym chain giving young homeless people a future.

This month’s Gymtopia story pays tribute to Baron Carl Gripenstedt, chair and founder of Lifestyle Fitness, who died suddenly in January of this year aged just 59. It’s a story of inherited privilege and wealth, generosity and homelessness.

A noble upbringing

Gripenstedt was part of the Swedish nobility and was raised at Bystad mansion, an imposing estate in Kilsmo – a locality of just 263 people, 200km south-east of Stockholm, Sweden. The family owned Brevens Bruk AB, a large family estate comprising swathes of forestry, agriculture and real estate. By normal standards, it was a life filled with abundance; if we were all issued with a ticket at birth, Gripenstedt’s would have been golden. So how does this privileged upbringing shape your view of the world and the lives of others less fortunate? Let’s take a look.

A passion for wellbeing

Of all the industries available to him, Gripenstedt chose fitness, starting Competition Line (UK) in 1982 – a company that distributed an extensive range of fitness equipment that was manufactured in Sweden. The company also moved into club operations with its Lifestyle Fitness brand of low-cost gyms, which are now spreading across the UK. I find it interesting that a member of the Swedish aristocracy chose to offer affordably priced gyms rather than premium clubs for the more affluent.

Compassion for others

I was first drawn to find out more about Gripenstedt and Lifestyle Fitness after reading an article on The Sun newspaper website in 2012 entitled: ‘Homeless man given new chance by gym’.

Lifestyle Fitness discovered 40-year-old Dean Saunders sleeping rough in a building it was converting into a new gym in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Work could not commence until the
man was moved on. Gripenstedt was informed of the situation and made an extraordinary suggestion: that his company pay to rehouse Saunders and, when was he able, to employ him at the club.

Speaking to the local newspaper in 2012, Gripenstedt commented: “He was going to be kicked out straight away, but I’ve been working with homeless people for a long time and I said to staff: ‘No, no – we do not do that.’ If he wants, we will help him. With a little determination he will get through his problems. I would be really proud if we could turn him around.”

Read the remainder of this article by selecting the ‘download PDF’ button.

Published in: Leisure Media , February 2015

By Ray Algar, Chief Engagement Officer, Gymtopia

Doing well by doing good

Does your business look beyond profit to embrace a more socially conscious agenda?

The Fitness Sector Social Good Report, published in 2014, explores the idea that a business with a purpose beyond maximising its own self-interests can ensure long-term relevance with its stakeholders, thereby creating a more valued and sustainable organisation.

The report is structured around eight themes: purposeful, responsible, authentic, generous, compassionate, connected, collaborative and influential. In this article, I briefly discuss four themes and what they mean for your business.


When I discover a new and interesting new business, there are normally two things I immediately want to understand. First, what the business makes. Then I want to know the founder’s story: why did they start the business and what’s the big idea that’s fuelling it? Understanding its purpose – the shared understanding of the reason why the business exists – is the filter I use to help me decide if I’m going to care about this business.

Remember, if I care, then I will share with my network. I believe clarity of purpose matters because it unites people and drives actions. As Nikos Mourkogiannis, global expert in strategic leadership, says: “Purpose is a reason for doing something that appeals to a person’s sense of what is right and what is worthwhile. So it creates a sense of obligation. Business purpose is the most powerful, but least leveraged, weapon in leadership.”

There are four distinct types of business purpose. The first is Heroism: driving the standards for the world to follow (Facebook, Zipcar). The second is Excellence: providing the best possible product or service, with an insatiable pursuit of ever-higher standards (Apple, Lego). Then there’s Discovery: a love of the new and innovative, where the founders are often intellectually curious and have a desire to re-invent industries (Twitter, Samsung). Finally there’s Altruism: serving the needs of others (Disney, Kickstarter).

The fitness sector is driven by an altruistic purpose. However, some external industry observers see a contradiction. During an interview with Giles Gibbons, CEO of Good Business, he commented: “What’s interesting about the fitness industry is that it has an incredibly strong social purpose: to help others. [It’s a purpose] that’s well understood by the general public. It’s a fantastic place to start and actually quite rare. I think the challenge for the fitness industry is that it seems to forget about this and sees people as numbers, thinking of it as a cost-driven business. As a result, I don’t think it’s achieving the aspiration, the loyalty and the warmth it should from such an important societal function.”

So consider this… What does your organisation fundamentally stand for? Are you creating a legacy that will be long remembered?


In 1970, Milton Friedman, the Nobel prize-winning economist, wrote a famous essay in the New York Times Magazine titled ‘The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits’.

More than 44 years have since passed and the world of business is now very different, with the responsibilities of business arguably far more complex to define.

Read the remainder of this article by selecting the ‘Read Online’ button.