As the tides of the Covid-19 era continue to recede, we find ourselves still standing here at AFS. Before going further with this message, it’s incredibly important we acknowledge our community for being solely responsible for getting us through. There are no words that measure up to the immense amount of good will and support that has been directed toward AFS. We will be forever grateful to all of you!
As challenging as Covid was, it gave us a chance to slow down and reflect on how we can be better. To be clear, in order for AFS to continue to survive, we have to be better.
For the past 9 months our team has been working hard on a reimagined AFS model. When we went to work on this, we wanted to do it through the lens of the humans we care about most. You all (our members reading this), and our team. The idea was quite simple: If the cohesiveness of our community got us through the most trying times in our existence, how can we build that community back up stronger than ever? What choices and trade-offs could we make to allow us to be even closer with our members? To create more space for our team members to grow and thrive? To make a greater impact on the life experience of each and every human we serve? Surprisingly, there was a singular answer to all of these questions. SIMPLIFY.
New Membership: Simply Unlimited
“The memberships are too complicated.”
This is the number one complaint we’ve received from our members over the years and we couldn’t agree more! With this in mind, we decided to run (not walk) in the opposite direction. There is now one membership option at AFS. Check it out below:
A Lesson from Goldilocks
A vital piece of AFS’ new strategy is we not allow ourselves to get too big. What we’ve learned (the hard way) the past ten years is that our model works best when we don’t have too few members, and we don’t have too many…the size of our community has to be just right. We crunched numbers for months on pricing, scaling, etc. and we’ve landed at 500. What this means is that with our current staffing and structure, we have to put a limit on the amount of members we can support.
AFS member count (per location) will now be capped at 500 members.
Strength Solution 2.0
The most prominent shift in our operating model is positioning our Strength Solution at the center of the new AFS experience. There are three reasons we’re doing this:
- Our team unanimously feels that providing individualized strength training instruction is the most valuable exercise related guidance we can provide. To truly be able to slow down and help someone connect with their body and the way it can move is important to us. This doesn’t mean we’re doing away with FS workouts, it simply means we want more people to experience the benefits of strength training and to get the help they need to do it safely. That goes for our current members and for the folks out there who haven’t found us yet and could really use the help.
- From a business perspective, demand and utilization of our strength offerings have never been higher, whereas demand and utilization of Fitness Solution classes have plummeted by close to 80%.. Certainly much of this is due to changes in preferences due to Covid, which is why AFS is NOT doing away with FS. We’re simply scaling it down and keeping an adaptable approach as we move forward. This way we can react to changes in preference.
- Although we’ve evolved from a business in the mid 2010’s who relied solely on scientific evidence to make decisions and recommendations, we still read the research. The research coming out on resistance training cannot be ignored as it’s proving to be the top training modality for heart health, metabolism, longevity, and more. We feel AFS has always been ahead of its time with Strength Solution and now is the time to introduce it to more people.
Same Strength, but Different
As you’ll see below, we’re going to be making substantial changes to our facilities in Plymouth and Ann Arbor. Most of which will be centered around expansion of our weight rooms to transform them from simply free weights and a couple machines to a much more robust selection of equipment you might find at a commercial gym. We’re not transforming into a commercial gym though, this is where the crux of our new model will come into play. Let’s take a look at what’s going to stay the same in the new (expanded) strength and what’s going to be changing.
- Individualization: We’re still going to design your program for you and you’ll have a choice between following it on your phone, or on paper.
- Guidance: There will still be an AFS instructor in Strength. Coaching, cue-ing, correcting, tweaking, maybe even some singing if the music hits just right. We’ll be watching trends and fortifying with an extra team member here and there when classes are full.
- Structure: You’ll still have it on your calendar, but we’re going to make it easier to schedule classes.
- Equipment & Space: We’re making massive improvements to the training space. Not just with new equipment and machines, but by adding SPACE!
- Capacity: Each hour in strength, we’ll now be able to fit 12-15 people comfortably (depending on location). How will we cue and correct that many people? See the next bullet.
- Weight set up, Tear down: This will be gradual over the first month or so of our new model, but AFS is moving away from getting your weights for you, changing them, tearing down weights, etc. This is going to change everything for our instructors because they’ll now be solely focused on providing coaching and cues. We know many people like this feature of the current strength experience, but we don’t feel that providing this service to you is making you a more complete exerciser and it’s always taken our coaches attention away from higher value interaction opportunities. For anyone concerned about being able to load up their weights, the new machines we’re getting will help a ton with things like leg press, and as mentioned before, we aren’t going to leave you high and dry on day one. But we are going to teach you how to do this on your own. This was a key trade-off in making the new model work.
- Scheduling: There’s a lot more info on scheduling over on our FAQ page!
Facility Layout Changes
Although our FS utilization is down, we don’t think that’s forever and we still think this style of workout has a place. To be completely honest, we don’t know what that place is going to become (that will be decided by usage and demand). For this reason we’ve created a hefty amount of flexibility so that we can offer FS options right off the bat and scale, tweak, and iterate as needed. There will be automated available whenever we’re open, and we’re working on getting some instructor guided classes on the schedule (based on highest demand times).
New equipment will be getting delivered the week of 7/12
New SS and FS begin on Monday 7/19
New membership billing rates start on 8/1
Everyone will be billed their current membership on 7/1
On 7/19 we will also transition over to ABC Fitness Solutions for our CRM (away from CMS). More information to come on this transition
This announcement marks by far the most significant set of changes AFS has ever implemented. Naturally, there are many smaller details we haven’t included on this page. We encourage you to check out the AFS 2.0 FAQ page if you have questions. There will be a form on the bottom of that page where you can send questions if your question is not addressed in the FAQ!