Co-founder Kevin Bracken said he thought up the idea while working on a project that shuttled him between New York, Toronto, and San Francisco. With no national chain offering truly national coverage, Bracken said that he and his cohorts resorted to using free trials at gyms with no intent of signing up, or what he called "gym piracy".
"It would be way better not getting pitched for 45 minutes by a gym I wasn't going to join", he said. "And it would be better for them to not waste a free pass on me".
To solve that problem, Bracken and co-founder Dustin Hoffman (no, not the actor) created Gymsurfing. At present, gyms in New York, Los Angeles, and a few smaller cities are participating, with the most gyms in San Francisco. Current participants are independent businesses (i.e. not huge, corporate chains) with a standard set of equipment that include free weights, machines and cardio equipment. Gymsurfing recommends gyms charge between $5 and $9 for one-time passes, as most users will purchase three passes during the course of the trip.