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A Care Center for Moms, Too


Kristi and her daughter Ava.

When Kristi Houston Gilbert and her family moved to Oakbrook, Ill. after 10 years of city living in Chicago, the top priority on Gilbert’s list when looking for a new gym was childcare. “There are gyms all over. I did some preliminary research online and the only thing I looked at was childcare,” she said. Encouraged by what she saw on Life Time Fitness’ website, its location was the only club she actually visited in person, and she was immediately impressed. “When I saw Life Time’s center I said — ‘I’m ready to sign up.’ I didn’t even look at anything else in the club.”

Cleanliness, an experienced staff and amenities drew Gilbert in and gave her a great first impression. Looking for a club that would be able to adequately take care of her two children, 2-year-old Ava, and 5-month-old Jack, the Burr Ridge, Ill. location equipped Gilbert with everything she needed to feel safe leaving her children in Life Time Fitness’ care. That included amenities such as climbing tubes, slides, art supplies, toys, multiple TVs and even Wii games for kids. “When I walked into Life Time it was like Six Flags, it was awesome. It was like night and day [compared to other gyms]. The staff is excellent.”

Staff at the childcare center at Life Time Fitness are either in school for childcare or child development, or have a degree in education, said Shqipe Sulejmani, the kid’s activities department head for Life Time Fitness. The club provides training courses to employees including child CPR and first aid, in order to provide the best and safest environment possible.

Having a great staff and well-equipped childcare center put Gilbert’s mind at ease, allowing her to focus more easily on her workout. “Being a new mom, you don’t get a lot of time for yourself. The childcare center allowed me time to myself to try to lose my baby weight.

Amenities such as slides keep children engaged at Life Time Fitness.

“Mentally, it’s a break. I’m a stay-at-home mom. Working moms get to get away from the kids for a while, focus on something else. Working out lets me de-stress. It does wonders for my mental health state, it gives me more energy so I can play with my kids — it’s just overall great for my state of mind.”

Life Time Fitness requires parents to make reservations before bringing their child to the center, and slots can be held up to two days in advance. This gives Life Time adequate time to staff the proper number of employees in accordance to how many children will be attending, said Sulejmani. At all times, there is at least one staff member to every 12 children. In the infant room, one employee to every four infants is required.

Setting the appointments has helped Gilbert stay motivated. “If I set the appointments and it’s on the calendar, then I have to go.” Though sometimes it’s not always easy, she said. “You have to get your gear and get the kids all dressed — but once I get there it’s well worth all the effort.”

As a result of her efforts, Gilbert has almost reached her goal weight, and found an added benefit — her new babysitter. “We were able to find our babysitters through the childcare center. That’s been great, especially being new to the area since you don’t know anybody.”

Sometimes, her daughter Ava doesn’t want to go. Life Time Fitness assists her in that situation as well. “They’re really good at distracting your kids so you can make your getaway,” she joked. After her workout, Gilbert and her children grab a snack from the Life Time Café. “It really makes the day go by faster. When you’re a stay-at-home mom, every day can be like Groundhog Day. Going to the gym breaks [it up]. It’s good for everyone.”

Does your club offer childcare? As was the case with Gilbert, having a childcare center can be a deciding factor for prospects considering joining your gym. Make sure your staff is friendly and well educated, your center is clean and your activities engaging. Think of unique ways you can market your childcare facility. How could you reach new mothers and women that may have lost hope in making it to the gym? It’s important for clubs to create a space for parents to leave their children in that they are comfortable with, so they can take that needed time to work on their fitness and overall health.


By Rachel Zabonick

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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