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As a fitness operator, it’s vital to stay on top of health club industry trends and constantly be thinking about how you can be innovative in your business. Here, Jim Worthington, the owner of Newtown Athletic Club, shares his thoughts on new trends, programs and services, and what challenges his company will need to overcome in the months ahead.
CS: What health club industry trends do you think will be paramount in the next year? What is on your radar?
JW: I see the evolution of boutique clubs in both individual locations and within existing big-box clubs. Big-box clubs will strive to create their own boutique style spaces within their facilities to complete with the free-standing boutiques. The free-standing boutiques will continue to evolve now that they have made an inroad in our industry. The boutique concept is here to stay, at least for now, and has raised the bar for the big-box clubs to emulate their good qualities (high-end physical environment, connected community, perceived excellence of instruction and customer loyalty).
CS: Outside of membership dues, what programs or services do you think will have the best revenue potential in 2018?
JW: HVLP (high volume, low price) and mid-size clubs will develop more on the personal training side of programming. I think it is obvious there is potential for growth in terms of size and revenue by offering this more labor-intensive service. Larger, big-box clubs of any size will expand services and facilities such as personal training, food and beverage, spa and salon and outdoor resort style pools and related services. They will see the value in providing a lifestyle experience that is more all-inclusive.
CS: What new programs or services did you implement this year?
JW: We implemented more non-fee-based training classes, which are included in our membership dues. These programs bridge the gap between personal and small group training and large group exercise classes. We found a market for programs that host 10 to 15 people, which are short, specific in modality and offer more personal attention than large group classes. We choose to not charge a fee for them, as they boost retention through better fitness results for the member and stronger member-to-member and member-to-employee connections.
CS: In terms of health club industry trends, what programs or services do you plan to implement in 2018?
JW: In the coming year, we will be modifying programs to fit our individual boutique approach in the mind body and group exercise areas. Our vision is to have very specific programming in spaces designed to complement those modalities, creating a unique experience for the member. We are embarking on a major expansion this year to create separate boutique spaces within our lifestyle facility that will personalize and define each member’s experience through design, programming organization and instructor “ownership” of their areas.
CS: What are some of your biggest challenges as a club operator?
JW: As a club operator, I feel it will be more of a struggle to find a younger work force that really wants to work, especially males. My experience is that young people entering the work force are less passionate about their careers and seek a balance that weighs heavier on the side of leisure and personal goals. There are glowing exceptions to this and I have many of them on my staff. I do believe balance in life is critical for productivity. Yet, I am always looking for that young individual who has the drive to be a “star” and will go the extra mile(s) to start shining brightly.