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Fitness Formula Clubs has opened its 10th location in the greater Chicago area. The 66,000-square-foot facility, called FFC Park Ridge, will offer a number of high-end amenities and unique offerings to members, including dedicated spaces for Group X, a Performance Training Center utilizing MYZONE heart rate monitors, physical therapy, a spa, Kids Club and more.
Gale Landers, the founder and CEO of Fitness Formula Clubs, recently answered questions on the newest facility.
CS: What is unique about the 10th facility from your perspective? What are a few features you’re really proud of?
GL: This location is the first where we were able to purchase the real estate. Our prior locations are mostly in the city of Chicago, where the real estate was not available for purchase or cost effective to build a new, free-standing facility. Being stand-alone, we were able to up the ante and raise the bar on the curb appeal. Internally, it afforded the creation of higher ceilings, maximum sunlight, enhanced visual and audio synergism, and a number of social, community-building spaces.
CS: You say the member experience at this facility is top-notch — why was this a priority for you?
GL: The member experience is what FFC has always been about. The way of FFC, in other words our purpose, is to enhance the lives of our members and guests by improving their overall health and well being. We focus on this in order to deliver outstanding results to members, staff and stakeholders. Location, facility and amenities aside, the member experience is how FFC primarily differentiates.
CS: How do you ensure staff provide the best customer service?
GL: First, we promoted and transferred a number of staff from our current locations, including several management team leaders, to the new location. This provides career advancement opportunities for them, and new opportunities for those coming in behind them to fill those vacated positions.
For our new hires, we invest a lot of time and resources into pre-opening staff training. They attend various components of FFC University, including extensive new employee orientations, hospitality training and the like, and gain first-hand experience by working at our existing locations as part of that training. They also help us outfit the new location prior to opening, everything from inventories to equipment to last-moment touches. This gives them a sense of ownership and buy-in and is a strong component of team-building for new staff. They can hit the ground running on day one.
CS: Why did you want to offer MYZONE heart rate training?
GL: Accuracy of data is critically important to our members, especially endurance athletes, so we needed a heart-rate based measuring tool. The MYZONE technology interface for customers is extremely easy. Simply put on the belt and you are displaying data and recording performance. There’s no step-by-step start up and end process. Members can get real-time feedback from an in-club display or their smartphone, and can also track their exercise data over time. The device can act as a “wearable” and store hours of exercise data for ease of use, and doesn’t need frequent charging. Creating community is big for us and MYZONE provides a platform through challenges and social feeds, which help exercise adherence and progress.