Being a brand: LuxFit

Founder of LuxFit SF on building a strong brand, retaining good talent and creating strategic partnerships.

Image of LuxFit SF founder Yotam Israeli.

San Francisco is one of those rare gems that can claim year-round weather ideal for outdoor fitness. With iconic hills, secret urban staircases and miles of trails along a scenic coast, the city plays open-air gym for anyone looking to boost their cardio with a breathtaking view.

Yotam Israeli, founder of LuxFit SF, traded the extremes of Madison, Wisconsin weather for the city by the bay, with the goal of expanding his experience in gym management. Then the pandemic hit, shutting down many indoor gyms across the country.  

“I wanted to open a space for people to work out safely, but I also really wanted to find a home for other fitness professionals. We were essentially all thrust out of work,” said Israeli.

He approached 10 coaches he admired with an idea: an outdoor fitness facility that provided one-on-one training, group classes, nutritional coaching and a customized workout a far cry from drill-sergeant-style outdoor boot camps. Some perks would include infrared saunas and chiropractic treatments inside retrofitted shipping containers. 

“We wanted to get people out of the mindset that outdoor fitness has to be grungy or dirty. We really pride ourselves on having luxury goods and services, even though we are outdoors.”

Those 10 friends are still part of the LuxFit team today. Now ready to open his third location, a hybrid indoor-outdoor model in SF’s Mission Rock, Israeli offers advice for other business owners looking to scale their business, build a strong brand and retain great employees.

Have SOPs in place.

Training teams on standard operating procedures is key to providing the kind of consistent service customers expect. 

“SOPs have been a really positive game changer for us,” said Israeli. “They are so important because you want to make sure that even if you, the business owner, are not on site, the level of service is the same regardless of who's there.”

Hire slowly to find the right fit.

Onboarding new employees can be both expensive and time-consuming, noted Israeli. Making sure there’s a good mutual fit before hiring is really important. “We want to make sure that everybody on our team wants to be there and uphold the brand experience, so we've really slowed down our hiring process to make sure that somebody is a right fit.” If they turn out not to be? “If we’ve done everything we can to help them, unfortunately, we've got to move on.”

Nurture good talent.

“Skills are really teachable, whether they are personal training skills, marketing skills, admin skills, but what is tough to teach is personality characteristics,” said Israeli. LuxFit offers free monthly educational workshops for their coaches, as well as nationally accredited certifications to keep licenses intact. “If somebody's a hard worker and has an eagerness to learn, we want to get them in a position to grow. We want to really build our business to be a career versus a pit stop.” 

Focus on community.

Building a community is an essential part of offering a unique brand experience, especially as a way to motivate members in a fitness environment. LuxFit SF hosts social and charitable events, such as fitness festivals, gatherings at local sporting events and quarterly fundraisers to support disadvantaged and marginalized communities. “Community is really important to us, but where we see results, especially from retention, is whether our members hit their goals. If your goal is to lose fat and you're like, ‘This is the greatest community ever,’ but six months go by and you haven't lost any fat, you're going to leave.” Members get a fitness analysis every 8 to 12 weeks to keep up with goal setting.

Embrace partnerships.

LuxFit partners with major tech companies and hotels in the area to offer fitness classes to employees and guests, respectively, at a discount. They have gone so far as to design, build and install corporate gym spaces. “We have become known as professionals in this corporate wellness space. Now we do weekly group fitness classes exclusive to tenants. It helps to build our business and helps spread the word.”

Israeli looks forward to continuing to build the LuxFit brand. “With a successful Mission Rock launch and proving that this hybrid model is a really effective option means we could take the brand nationwide, even worldwide,” he said. “While I see the benefits of outdoor training everywhere in the world, not everywhere is lucky to have between 55 to 70 degrees every day.”

Learn more about how Visa can support your small business at Visa’s Small Business Hub.

Tag: Digital commerce

The Visa Blog Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and views from Visa