Imagine that a prospective member steps into your facility. As part of your selling strategy, your personal trainer provides the prospect with a free fitness assessment, which includes a survey about their activity level. When asked how often the prospect completes cardiovascular exercise per week, their answer is “between zero and one hour.”
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of daily, moderate exercise. Your prospect is far from reaching the American Heart Association’s recommendation, and as a result, could face a host of conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. As a health club, you could make a difference in the prospect’s, and member’s life by offering engaging cardio options.
Around the Clock Fitness in Cape Coral, Fla. has enticed prospects into its facility by making cardio the center of its marketing campaign. The club has two locations, and serves approximately 10,000 members. By the end of 2013, the club expects to serve 20,000 members between its two facilities.
“Any experienced fitness professional knows the real key to sustained physical fitness lies within a solid foundational base of sound cardio activity,” said Derik Fay, the owner and president of Around the Clock Fitness. “Any good marketing campaign should be based around this belief, because we are all pursuing the de-conditioned, non-gym user.”
Fay said that smoothie bars, locker rooms and other basic amenities aren’t enticing enough on their own to bring in the general public. Those things, in combination with great cardio options, are key. “[The general public] needs to know that with sound advice and a simple cardio program, that they will not only see results, but live a longer, healthier life,” he said.
Shannon Cauley, the fitness director for The Houstonian Club in Houston, Texas, said that offering multiple cardio options was a great way to target prospects from different demographics, and please existing members. The Houstonian offers its members cardio pieces from Precor, Mad Dogg, Octane Fitness, Matrix Fitness and more, all in the name of variety. “When The Houstonian Club purchases new cardiovascular equipment for our members, we look for a variety of pieces that cater to various ranges of motion, are durable for the 14,000 members and are popular,” said Cauley.
According to Cauley, equipment variety is important, so that all prospects and members have something to choose from that will work for them. “We want to be able to attract and suit the needs of anyone,” said Cauley. “Variety is key.”
The Houstonian Club has seen success luring prospects into its facility through Mad Dogg’s Spinning® Program. In fact, the program was so popular that The Houstonian Club made the decision to install 66 Star Trac Spinner Blades into its Spinning room.
“Most of the 66 bikes we have are in use [during classes],” said Cauley, which she attributed to Spinning’s appeal to all types of exercisers. “Spinning allows participants to take the class at their own level. If they want to work hard and burn many calories, they can, and if they just want to take it easy, they can do that too! Spinning is very user-friendly and anyone from a child to a senior can use the bike. Members love these classes because they burn tons of calories and also are really fun!”
Cheetah Gym in Chicago, Ill. recently replaced all of its cardio equipment to appeal to a wider range of prospects in its community. The club now offers its member three different types of treadmills from Precor, Woodway and Life Fitness, multiple ellipticals, stepmills, rowers and more.
According to Todd Beisch, the general manager of Cheetah Gym, there was a lot of competition for members from other clubs and studios within the immediate area. He hoped providing members with a variety of top-of-the-line cardio equipment would help Cheetah Gym stand out. “We looked for equipment that was user friendly, easy to use, that members could figure out without instructions,” said Beisch.
For example, Beisch cited Life Fitness and Precor’s “quick start,” buttons, for members looking to get in a fast, no-hassle workout. “The simpler, the better,” said Beisch. “Sometimes, members look for pieces of equipment that don’t have too many buttons or options, as that can be overwhelming.”
Beisch can tell which pieces of equipment are the most popular by tracking the mileage on each individual machine. The mileage can be found in the equipment settings, which Biesch learned about from his technician. His technician had attended workshops from manufacturers such as Life Fitness, on how to properly take care of and fix equipment.
“Once we’ve had pieces of equipment around for a while, we start tracking the mileage,” said Beisch. “We also use excel spreadsheets that track the serial numbers.”
According to Beisch, this has helped Cheetah Gym by allowing them to see which pieces of equipment are breaking down the most frequently. “A perfect example are Precor treadmills,” said Beisch. “After a certain amount of usage, the belts need to be replaced. We found this out after the treadmills kept shutting off without an explanation. By keeping track of the serial number in the excel spreadsheet, we could see that the treadmills were shutting down more often [than normal], and get to the root of the problem. It turns out the belts just needed to be replaced, and once we did that, the problem was fixed.”
Additionally, if clubs want to entice members through cardio, they should look for pieces that improve the member experience. “While cardio has come a long way, some of the really beneficial improvements are those that have simultaneously improved both the member’s experience and overall results from using that machine,” said Fay.
Fay was recently impressed by Star Trac’s integrated “coach” system within its treadmills, which coaches members through a personalized workout. “Having both the ‘cool’ factor and the technical ability to not only improve, but accelerate all users results, Star Trac has a real winner,” said Fay.
Finally, in order to encourage prospects and members to participate in heart-pumping exercise, remind them of the benefits. “Cardio training burns a lot of calories … the calorie burn is the big attraction,” said Cauley. “Cardio training also [increases] endorphins, which makes you feel so good after a workout! The Houstonian Club educates our membership on the importance of balancing cardio with strength training.”
Fay: “The biggest mistake being made is assuming that, you, the owner can make all of the equipment decisions without any input from others. Success is made by surrounding yourself with a strong, diverse selection of staff members with various experiences.”
Cauley: “We emphasize both cardio and strength training for optimal weight loss and overall good health. Offering weight-loss programs that include exercise, nutrition and social components for overall wellness are great ways to market your club.”
Beisch: “Gyms these days are way more than just weights! Gyms can appeal to runners and cyclists during winter months, such as here in Chicago.”
By Rachel Zabonick