Pole Dancing at Crunch Gym

Apparently pole dancing at fitness centers is now a thing. The other day I noticed a billboard for Crunch Gym offering classes in NYC and San Francisco.

I have no idea whether this is effective as an exercise regimen, but it’s clear that Crunch knows the difference between offering a service and staging an experience. Offering access to exercise bikes and treadmills counts as a service, but this is something else. With weekly live DJs and engaging classes, gyms of this ilk are re-framing exercise as an experience, and providing the means for personal transformation. That’s always been the ostensible rationale for joining a fitness center, but gyms haven’t had a great track record when it comes to following through on that promise. Attrition rates industry-wide are nearly 50%. The trouble is, offering a service isn’t enough.

This is a classic example of Pine and Gilmore’s economic theory of services, experiences and transformations.

Each level in the hierarchy of economic offerings serves as the building block for the next. Experiences are built on services and transformations are built on experiences. It’s too big a leap from services directly to transformations. That’s why attrition rates at traditional gyms are so high. But if a fitness center can build an engaging experience around their service, they’re in a much better position to guide transformation.


  1. The YMCA in the U.S. has been successful at copying the services that gyms provide while adding services and events for families in particular, and they’ve been successful with this formula (though I’m not aware of the retention rates).

    But pole dancing may be a difficult service for them to copy.

  2. Jeff

    Service innovation is notoriously difficult to protect and easy for others to copy.

    It’s not that adding pole dancing would be tricky from an operational point of view; you can probably buy the materials you need at the hardware store. But from the YMCA’s brand perspective it might not be in their interest to try…




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