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Blink Fitness President Eyes Community, Accessibility & Innovation in 2024

Blink Fitness President Eyes Community, Accessibility & Innovation in 2024

Guy Harkless, the new president of Blink Fitness, was recently appointed to invigorate the premium-yet-affordable fitness brand launched by Equinox in 2011.

In his new leadership role, Harkless will spearhead gym operations, elevate the membership experience and develop and implement a strategy to support Blink’s future growth trajectory and enhance overall business performance for the brand’s 103 locations.

“The demand for approachable and accessible fitness experiences is greater than ever,” said Harvey Spevak, executive chairman and managing partner of Equinox Group, to whom Harkless will report. “With Guy at the helm of Blink Fitness, there are endless opportunities to accelerate the brand’s continued success.”

Harkless comes to Blink with an impressive track record of serving consumers from multiple vantage points, overseeing diverse brands in various lifecycle stages. A Howard University graduate, he’s held leadership roles at Champs Sports, Eastbay, Foot Locker, Nike and Puma, and was a founding partner of And1, a footwear brand.

Building Community Through Accessible Fitness

A seasoned industry vet, Harkless has experience in cultivating community connection, providing a glimpse at what’s in store for Blink.

Harkless sees Blink’s competitively priced membership as an ideal fit for the current macroeconomic landscape and emphasizes the distinctiveness of the Blink brand in fostering and building community bonds — an aspect he deems advantageous as Blink charts its course into 2024 and beyond.

“Our overall mantra is that we offer what we call ‘Fitness for All,’” Harkless said. “We operate in all the boroughs in New York City, in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Dallas, and I would say that we have a huge opportunity to continue to deliver that model into the future and provide a ton of accessibility to, in many cases,  underserved communities.”

Guy Harkless (credit: Blink Fitness)

As Blink’s model is focused on localization, Harkless said the fitness brand takes special attention in making sure it’s hiring from the community and encouraging members at the local level to stay active.

“Connecting to local organizations,  participating in community days, staying active with the local Chamber of Commerce — it’s really about how we build and foster the right overall ecosystem to empower teams to be successful with the Blink model,” he said.

Strength Training Takes Center Stage

As Blink heads into its busy season of January, with fitness consumers eager to embark on their New Year’s health and fitness resolutions, Harkless is focusing on the member experience, engagement and empowerment for the new year.

In becoming attuned to Blink’s members, Harkless says Blink’s ongoing emphasis on delivering sparkling clean fitness facilities continues to resonate as a priority, as does offering value-added services such as personal training. 

“We have almost 600 fully-certified personal trainers that we deploy across our entire network,” Harkless points out.

credit: Blink Fitness

Blink has been mindful of striking a balance between strength and cardio options, and Harkless indicates that the fitness brand has been “tweaking the model” as fitness consumers are increasingly invested in strength training.

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In Stuyvesant Heights, Brooklyn, Blink is piloting a few different ventures as it works with EGYM, a smart tech-enabled equipment and software provider, and FitBench — a fully-equipped bench that incorporates weights and dumbbells, which Harkless says is helpful for trainers to better connect with members during a training session.

EGYM equipment at Blink’s Stuyvesant Heights location (credit: Blink Fitness)

Harkless reports that Blink has already seen increased engagement with some of the strength areas in its Stuy Heights location, which has helped the brand consider zoning additional locations across the Brooklyn area and some other markets. 

Wellness & Recovery Options

Blink is also eyeing the holistic journey around health and wellness and is considering deploying recovery offerings in its locations. In another pilot program, Blink has partnered with the Hyperice Hypervolt team to bring massage guns into its Stuy Heights gym location.

“We’re getting a feel for how members want to be serviced on that level and see the opportunity to augment the member experience across fitness, training and recovery as a key part of the journey,” Harkless said, adding that the intent is to help Blink members experience recovery and prevent injury while preparing them for their next workout or training session. “That’s a large aspect that we think is really going to be unique for us as we evolve our menu of services to best cater to the present and future needs of our community.”

As the fitness brand tests out new offerings for its members, one of the most important aspects of Blink’s mission remains accessibility.

“There are many more active individuals seeking more and better access to fitness services, which is probably the biggest thing in our industry,” Harkless said. “This is where Blink’s model excels in terms of widening the scope of access points for a broad cross-section of fitness consumers who are looking for an in-the-neighborhood solution to be able to leverage their health and wellness journey.”

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