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Operations: Inside Secrets On Creating Great Member Experiences


Secrets DO make great friends, at least in this case!

Every week, I spend time hearing from owners and operators of some leading health club and fitness facility brands. In doing so, I‘ve compiled a list of the best practices that great professionals use to deliver meaningful member experiences for their members. From small boutique club owners to YMCA facility operators, these professionals are some of the best in the business, and as a result they’ve not only been able to retain members while continuing to grow, but they’ve also been able to impact the hearts of their customers. That has resulted in building great businesses.

In an industry that is full of “professionals,” there is often a great deal of unsolicited advice that gets thrown around, and I quite regularly find myself saying, “Thanks, but what is actually happening and more importantly, what’s working?” Let’s hear some thoughts on what really works.

Laura St John HeadshotLaura St John is the owner of Pearl Street Fitness, a community that has blossomed in Denver in the past year, with plans to open their third location later in 2014. Here is what Laura has to say about how they create a meaningful experience for their members.

“How do we do it? First, when they walk through our door, they instantly become part of a group of ‘Strong Confident People.’ We help them immediately shed their everyday, outside labels (be it housewife, overweight, Ironman Triathlete). It no longer matters what they think they are, or what they think they can or cannot do. Basically, they check everything — including egos — at the door. With one simple label of ‘Strong Confident People,’ every person shares a commonality, feels comfortable with one another, and turns competition into support.”

jay headshotJay Wagnon, the owner of Sky Fitness and Wellbeing in Tulsa, Okla. offers a large variety of services, such as a highly personalized smart phone app to keep his members engaged, but he also takes pride in his staff’s ability to promote an exceptional experience.

“Our front-line team members have whole heartedly embraced the notion that we build relationships, not memberships. We have a detailed, member service course that all new team members attend called ‘Exceptional Member Experience’ or ‘EME’ for short. While some practices are meticulous and scripted — like verbally greeting any member within 10 feet of proximity, most are directional in nature. We give the team members a clear vision of what an ‘exceptional member experience’ looks like in various scenarios, and then ask them to use their best asset and our best ally, their own personalities to shine and create EME’s on a daily basis. Follow-up and continuous recognition play a key part in reinforcing the standards for member service.”

IMG950100Hillary, the general manager at Snap Fitness Pueblo, of which is the fastest-growing, full-service club in Pueblo, Colo., has been growing leaps and bounds since it opened.

“Here at Snap Fitness Pueblo West, we promote a sense of community through our group [exercise] classes, PACE Women’s-only circuit room and our small group personal training and boot camps. At various times throughout the year we also do fun group [exercise] events such as a New Year’s Eve Zumba party, Halloween Costume party, etc. We also hold a mixer once a month where we bring in live music and/or have an artist come in to teach us how to paint, draw or how to take photographs. We hold a Snap Fitness Christmas Party where both members and staff are invited. All of these events encourage our members to socialize and get to know each other inside and outside of the gym.”

I feel very fortunate that this group of special people shared their thoughts and best practices with us. I’ll be sharing a slide-share presentation later this week with more details if you want to consider utilizing some of these great ideas for your operation. Check it out on my website at www.lindseyrain2o.com.

When you are interacting with your members and staff, try on some of these best practices and see what kind of difference you can make in your club or facility environment. I would love your feedback so please let me know what you think. For more updates and the latest in the health club and fitness industry follow me @lindseyrainh2o. Cheers, and thanks for reading!


Lindsey Rainwater is an experienced consultant and coach to the fitness and wellness industry. Currently she is working with the Fitmarc Team helping club owners all over the south central region of the United States propel their business forward via group exercise solutions. For more information about Lindsey, follow her on Twitter @lindseyrainh2o. 

Lindsey Rainwater

Lindsey Rainwater is an experienced business advisor, executive coach and the founder of The Women in Fitness Association (WIFA). WIFA is the global association supporting women in their career trajectory helping them rise to their fullest potential in business and life.

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