Ben Francis On The Importance of Gymshark’s Values Right Now

SOLIHULL, United Kingdom — Fitness apparel brand Gymshark is doubling down on its core values with the launch of a fund created to pay personal trainers to host live-streamed classes for its global community.

The initiative, which has been running since the end of March, aims to create a lifeline for hundreds of personal fitness trainers around the world — many of whom have had their income significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic — as well as support its community in staying healthy while in isolation.

PTs can apply via email to host classes through Gymshark’s Facebook Live channel, which has over 1.7 million followers, with those selected given a timeslot to host online workouts, which are currently being streamed Monday to Friday. In the long-term, the hope is that it will also enable PTs to gain exposure that can be leveraged once the COVID-19 crisis is over.

Read More: The Brands Giving Back In Response To Covid-19

For Gymshark, however, the move isn’t just a temporary response. Instead, it forms part of a wider business strategy — one that focuses on how short-term pivots can not only impact community engagement but the future trajectory of the business. And it’s an approach every business that’s in a position to, should be taking, argues Gymshark founder Ben Francis.

“I read somewhere recently that businesses will be judged in the long-term on what they do in the short-term,” Francis told Welltodo.

“I truly believe that. And so, whatever business you’re in, now’s the time to focus on how you’re resonating with your core audience and the impact you’re having on your community and your wider stakeholders,” he added.

For a brand like Gymshark, which has cultivated a global community of more than 12 million followers under the proviso of ‘uniting the conditioning community’, that sentiment couldn’t ring truer. So it comes as no surprise that the initiative has so far been met with adoration and applause, with both PTs and fans on social media voicing their love and loyalty for the company. 

As we highlighted in our 2020 Consumer Wellness Trends Report, in an age where loyalty is won through emotional not transactional relationships, moments like these, especially in times of uncertainty, matter more than ever.

Ben Francis On The Importance of Gymshark’s Values Right Now
Image: Gymshark

Of course, not all brands will be in a position to invest significant sums of money into community-led initiatives, with many focused solely on survival over the coming weeks and months, which Francis acknowledges, telling Welltodo: “We’re in such a fortunate position because we’re such an agile and lean business, so we can afford to do this.”

Adding: “We can afford to weather the storm, so we’re really doubling down on brand message and making sure the wider community is being looked after,” he adds.

Read More: Gymshark Commits $7M Investment Towards Brand Innovation and Employee Wellness

However, the eight-year-old brand is also making more granular real-time changes to reflect and support the needs of its community.

In addition to adding home workouts with real PTs to the Gymshark Conditioning app, instead of the gym-heavy imagery and messaging that is usually seen across its social media channels, it has also shifted its content towards home-based exercise and outdoor activities.

“Before this, we were working on a five-year plan for the business and all of a sudden our timeline shrank, so now we’re taking each day or week as it comes,” Francis told Welltodo.

“Everything has changed, but what we can do as a brand is remain consistent for our customers in a time that is wildly inconsistent. To do that, we still need to get our core brand message across — the key is that we’re prepared to flex in how we do that.”