Top Fitness Center Considerations
In our Club of the Future survey — and in virtually every club conversation we’ve had since — improved fitness offerings emerge as the number one priority of clubs considering renovation or expansion. And a typical complaint of those who’ve recently added or modified fitness facilities? “We built it too small!” That mistake is most often a result of inadequate research and too-modest expectations (often simple risk aversion). “The fitness center not only provides tremendous member value,” says Stephen Tharrett, co-founder of Club Intel, a club industry-focused market research firm, “it should also be a part of your growth strategy.”
How not to make the mistake of underestimating your club’s fitness needs? We asked Tharrett for his best advice. His top tips:
- Make sure you understand thoroughly the demographics, needs and wants of your membership so that you can plan your space and address needs appropriately.
- Consider a full wellness approach. Appeal to the diversity of your membership by combining traditional offerings (machines, weights, training, aerobic activities) with a mind and body studio (yoga, Pilates, Zumba), massage and spa services, perhaps even alternative offerings such as acupuncture, chiropractic services and reike (a relaxation technique for stress reduction).
- Purposefully consider the design of your fitness center, allocating specific spaces for stretching, cardio, wellness services, biking, mind/body exercises and an open functional space that allows both younger and older members to participate in high- and non-impact movements.
- Maintain a proper organizational culture with full-time employees. By hiring the right people, you are able to maintain accountability and offer a high-touch experience that even commercial clubs aspire to and are trying to replicate. And smaller clubs don’t need to be left out — engage personal trainers as subcontractors.
- Offer crossover programming. Golfers and tennis players need conditioning and training.
- Integrate fitness with food and beverage — provide members access to refreshments that they can enjoy before and after their fitness activities.