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:

  1. Make sure you understand thoroughly the demographics, needs and wants of your membership so that you can plan your space and address needs appropriately.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Offer crossover programming. Golfers and tennis players need conditioning and training.
  6. Integrate fitness with food and beverage — provide members access to refreshments that they can enjoy before and after their fitness activities.

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