I hear it everywhere across the country; memberships are down and revenues are slipping. Many health clubs are having more and more difficulty trying to make ends meet. People everywhere are tightening their belts. Yes, we are in troubled times. Club owners are concerned about their future and so are their members, but call me the eternal optimist! I believe that if we are in a recession, just don’t participate. Find the angle and then act. There really are answers.
Juice bars are a proven revenue source in health clubs if, and that’s a big if, they are managed properly and the right products are offered. Let’s dissect what it takes to have a successful food and beverage operation; but first let’s understand why there is a stigma attached to juice bars so that those pitfalls can be avoided.
Over the years, juice bars have been given a bad rap, and rightly so. Health club owners have taken the easy road. They may have been well intended but let’s face it, health club owners are experts in business and exercise kinesiology, but they are not food and beverage people. So, all too often they have chosen shelf stable sugar laden syrups pumped into automated machines for their smoothies, scientifically engineered chemical supplements and snacks laden with artificial ingredients; all because they believed that people who work out want imitation foods that accomplish everything from shredding your body to packing on 20 pounds of muscle. These may sound appealing to the 5% of the membership who are hard core body builders, but to the average baby boomer or mom and pop, it’s not gonna wash.
People today read labels and they care about what they are putting in their bodies, especially those who work out. But these same people are usually ill informed when it comes to diet and nutrition. Nutrition is 80% of the battle.
New memberships can be low in difficult economic times, so it helps to make more of your existing members. These are your loyal customers who are committed to your gym – at least for the time being. The goal is to get more of them to stop by the juice bar, which will only happen if you offer quality food products and – here is another big if – they need to understand why they must put these foods in their bodies at precisely the right moment. You know, the moment before they hop in their car. Education is key. As the adage goes, “teach a man to fish and he’ll never go hungry.” Hopefully, they’ll never go home hungry because they’ll refuel at your juice bar; which they will if they get the message first.
So what is the message?
The message is this; “drink a recovery shake within 30 minutes of your last rep to finish out your workout.” Most people wouldn’t work out if they weren’t just a little bit vain or trying to achieve a goal, so take advantage of that. If members know the timing of nutrition is going to help them achieve their goals, whatever they are, they’ll spend a measly $5 to look better and everybody wins! Your members get to their goals faster then they ever dreamed, and you add to your bottom line while retaining members for a longer period of time.
It really is a no brainer if you make sure the products are real and not sugar laden syrups. Don’t be fooled by the word “Natural”. Even high fructose corn syrup is…you guessed it…”Natural,” but then again, so is Arsenic. So bringing quality food products to your members and then educating them about why these foods are integral to their goals will make your juice bar a success.
Dan Young is President of Performance Food Centers, Corp. He is accomplished in Juice bar concept and design as well as being certified in Personal Training and Sports Nutrition. He can be contacted at 866.632.1927, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit them online at www.performacefoodcenters.com
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