We interviewed Philip Clark, the owner of The Training Station in Philadelphia, Pa. Clark is a former Olympic-caliber athlete, whose experience as an elite athlete influenced elements of his club!
Q: Tell me about your experience as an Olympic-caliber athlete. What was your sport and how did you train?
A: I am a life-long Track and Field athlete. I started as a cross-country runner, became a good sprinter and horizontal jumper, and ended my career as a middle-distance runner. I trained with the best athletes and learned from the best coaches. Donovan Bailey, my training partner in 1995, was the 1996 Men’s 100 meter Olympic Champion.
Q: What makes the training station stand out from other clubs in your area?
A: The owner is also the full-time operator. Being present in the business helps me establish a consistent level of service and atmosphere. And my way of organizing the gym is heavily influenced by my experience in sports. That’s a unique experience and it has helped form a unique gym.
Q: Nine months before your club’s grand opening, you opened a shoe store, with an architects model of the gym inside. What was your reasoning behind this, and how did this strategy pan out?
A: I wanted to follow the common practice of opening a sales office for the pre-sale of gym memberships. The gym’s on-going construction didn’t allow me to set up the sales office on its site. So, I had to find a nearby space. All of the nearby spaces had leases that stipulated that the spaces could only be used for retail uses. So, I decided to sell running shoes. That allowed me to lease the space. Once I was there, I promoted the gym (and sold a bunch of sneakers!)
Q: You club does gait analysis. What is gait analysis, and what are the benefits of it to your members?
A: During a gait analysis, I film the unshod feet of a person running on a treadmill. Careful analysis of the footage helps me determine what type of shoes the person should be wearing. It also presents an opportunity to teach people about their bodies and to give them some free running tips.