Armstrong Athletic Club


Gastonia athletic club rebrands with hope of boosting energy, enthusiasm

(John Clark/The Gazette) The newly reopened Armstrong Athletic Club has rebranded to project a new gym image and encourage to attain the willpower to achieve their fitness goals.

By Michael Barrett

Published: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 03:52 PM.

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A Gastonia gym has rebranded itself in an effort to help more members achieve their fitness goals. Armstrong Athletic Club has been open eight years at 3372 Robinwood Road. But it’s now blazing a different trail, with a new campaign urging people to “Be Strong Inside and Out.”

“There’s been a change in philosophy,” said general manager Gerry Durkee. “I like to say we’re a little less of a relaxed spa now, and more of an energetic gym.” The club launched its new venture Monday with a two-week grand reopening. Along with on-site changes in interior design and color schemes, and a new website, the campaign is being pushed in Gaston County with billboards, online banners, direct mail and other advertising.

Gym officials say the revitalized approach stems from statistics that show 90 percent of people who join gyms quit after the first three months and never return. Most of those people find it difficult to attain the willpower and support required to get in shape and stay that way. The aim is to get people to work out smarter, not harder, said Armstrong Athletic Club owner Mary Doctor.

“The objective of the new campaign is to let people know Armstrong provides the support system they need to reach and maintain their ultimate fitness goals,” she said. “We’d rather have 500 healthy and happy new members than 3,000 who never show up.”

The gym is pushing its new approach with state-of-the-art equipment, classes designed to sculpt, tone and strengthen bodies, and a battery of fitness diagnostics. To motivate members in the gym, giant signs on the walls now “shout” inspiring messages, such as:

     - Seven days without exercise makes one weak

     - Don’t push yourself up. Push the earth down

     - Working out is always better than sleeping in

     - Sucking it up means sucking it in

A heavy bag in the gym’s entryway emblazoned with the word “CAN’T” invites members to kick it before starting their workouts. Other motivational elements include a large Willpower Wall, where members are encouraged to post pictures of temptations they’ve overcome to stay in shape. The company behind the rebranding is Chapel Hill-based advertising firm Immortology.

Durkee said the environment had become too stale. Before, there was no music playing in the gym. Now there is, and while it’s not loud enough to be distracting or prevent conversation, it’s noticeable. “It’s just reenergized the whole place,” he said. “We wanted to give the club a new identity, breathe new life into it and ultimately attract a younger crowd.”

On Saturday, members and non-members are invited to experience an 80-minute workout featuring 20 minutes of indoor cycling, weight training, Bhangra dancing and yoga. Also that day, Armstrong will host a second ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m. The gym and all events will be open to the public during regular gym hours and special membership deals will be offered until Nov. 9.

You can reach Michael Barrett at 704-869-1826 or