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In Print

Looking Forward


As 2015 comes to a close, six industry leaders share their highlights and biggest challenges of the past year, while looking toward the next 12 months.

David Patchell-Evans – Founder of GoodLife Fitness 

Growth was the name of the game for GoodLife Fitness in 2015 and according to David Patchell-Evans, it will continue next year. “2016 is going to be another exciting year for the fitness industry as we look to inspire more people to get involved in fitness,” he said. “In order to do this we will see newer trends continuing their development, as well as the resurgence of proven methods that have been helping people with their health and fitness goals for many years.”

 The Highlight of 2015: 

“One of the successes I’m most proud of was our focus on giving back to Canada’s Armed Forces. In November we launched a month-long program to give veterans and active duty members of Canada’s Armed Forces free access to all GoodLife Fitness clubs across Canada. As a proud Canadian company we felt it was very important to show our appreciation to the brave men and women who serve or have served our great country.”

On The Fitness Industry In 2016:

“Club owners and operators will no longer be able to skim the market by simply opening a new facility. In the world of online reviews and the new form of word-of-mouth in social media, fitness consumers are placing a significant amount of consideration into credibility, reliability and longevity of a fitness company.”

On GoodLife Fitness In 2016:

“Coming off a very strong 2015, I predict this coming year will be our biggest growth year ever. We will be opening 30 to 35 GoodLife Fitness clubs across the country. Our low cost, high value clubs, including Fit4less by GoodLife and Éconofitness, will reach 100 clubs before the end of December of this year and we are projecting that we will open another 50 locations in the six months following that.”

Allison Flatley – COO of Corporate Fitness Works 

2014 was a great year for Allison Flatley. As the COO of Corporate Fitness Works, she helped maneuver a smooth transition during the acquisition of L&T Health and Fitness. And 2015 was just as rewarding. “We were busy merging both entities’ operations and creating a unified company culture that reflects our competitive advantage,” said Flatley.

The Highlight Of 2015:

“One highlight was revamping our mission, vision, values and behaviors. Our team leaders (employees) embraced the process and are having fun learning and sharing our new culture with others.”

On The Fitness Industry In 2016:

“Technology will continue to impact our industry. Clubs and leaders that figure out how to make the technology compliment member to member or staff to member interaction, versus replacing the interactions, will be the most successful.”

On Corporate Fitness Works In 2016:

“We are proud to announce that we have been selected to chair the Host Committee for the 2016 Women Business Enterprise National Council’s National Conference and Business Fair. This event brings together over 4,000 executives and procurement decision makers from leading organizations. We will showcase and emphasize wellness and physical activity to these leaders. Corporate Fitness Works is ready to lead the health revolution that moves everybody.”

Bill McBride – President & CEO of Active Sports Club

With the formation of new ventures like Active Wellness, according to Bill McBride, 2015 was dedicated to working toward a very clear and defined strategy in how the company supports its clients.

The Highlight Of 2015:

“The highlight would be Active Sports Clubs’ evolution and partnership with St. Joseph Health in the formation of Active Wellness, a forward-thinking health, fitness and wellness management company.”

On The Fitness Industry In 2016:

“I foresee further growth in the specialized boutique and various studio model sectors. I believe 2016 will also be a very strong year for the higher end of the market with net membership growth and strong ancillary revenues. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some slow down in the growth of the low-priced category. I still believe this category will grow, but at a somewhat slower rate.”

On Active Sports Club In 2016:

“I believe 2016 will offer growth opportunities in the number of client sites we serve, as well as the further development of our new business models integrating preventative health care and medical services and high-quality branded programming and methodologies.”

Chuck Runyon – CEO & Co-Founder of Anytime Fitness

For Chuck Runyon and Anytime Fitness, 2015 was about getting back to the basics and sticking with the fundamentals. This meant focusing on customer service and customer experience. As Runyon explained, people skills matter now more than ever. “Year after year, Anytime Fitness has the most remarkable member success stories this industry has ever seen,” he said.

 The Highlight of 2015:

“As evidenced by our #MyAnytimeStory campaign, Anytime Fitness is playing an important role in helping people positively change their lives. More than 4,000 Anytime Fitness members have submitted their emotional stories, detailing when they ‘knew it was time’ to make big changes and how their quality of life has dramatically improved thanks to the support they received at one or more of our gyms.”

Lessons Learned In 2015:

“In today’s fast moving and constantly shifting landscape, it’s easy to lose focus on the fundamentals and to place too much energy on innovation and change. Mastery of the fundamentals is still the foundation of success.”

On The Fitness Industry In 2016:

“Club growth will continue to outpace consumer growth and GDP — and as supply surpasses demand, brands will be forced to adapt their business or experience less profitability. Wearables will continue to gain more consumer adoption and digital platforms will continue to intrude on the brick and mortars. In a noisy environment, however, consumers will need someone to make sense of it all and provide personalization, motivation and education.”

Debra Siena – President of Midtown Health 

The future is bright for Midtown Health. According to Debra Siena, the company’s momentum is just getting started and 2016 will be even better. “I want to see our growth escalate as we continue to acquire the fitness center management agreements for prestigious health systems and blue chip corporations in the years to come,” she said.

The Highlight of 2015: 

“Midtown Health continues in growth mode, adding three more managed health clubs to our portfolio in 2015. We are also having a terrific turnaround year for the health system clubs we brought on board in 2014. We have the talent and systems in place, it’s working and that’s rewarding.”

Lessons Learned In 2015:

“The biggest challenge we faced was working with our health system clients to become an active member on their patient’s Medical Health Record. I am delighted to say we accomplished this goal after years of trying. This will better enable our clubs to serve as an integral part of patients’ and members’ continuum of care.”

On The Fitness Industry In 2016:

“I think we will see trends that are already in the pipeline continue to grow. For example, multi recreation clubs will continue to try to compete with boutique clubs by emphasizing specialty classes and group training. Wearable technology is here to stay and for that segment of the population, clubs will need to tie individual devices into club programming in order for us to stay relevant.”

Peter Taunton – Founder of Lift Brands

Just as in 2015, growth and expansion will continue to be priorities for Lift Brands in 2016. Peter Taunton explained he hopes to continue adding wellness brands under the Lift Brands umbrella and expanding their current brands internationally.

The Highlight Of 2015:

“Our biggest highlight was signing four master franchise agreements in one week. For many franchises, signing one master franchise agreement is a success. This was a major accomplishment and it reflects the upward trajectory of the Snap Fitness brand — especially internationally.”

Lessons Learned In 2015:

“Last year we deployed our own operating software. This transition was a huge undertaking. We learned how vital it is to test everything multiple times before deploying an update. We owe it all to our operators to have systems in place that work properly.”

On The Fitness Industry In 2016:

“Three trends have been validated in the last year: The marriage of science and exercise, personal training and social media. If you’re in the industry, you need to find ways to add value beyond the traditional workout experience. If you haven’t embraced technology, training and social media yet, you’ve missed the boat.”

Emily Harbourne

Emily Harbourne is the assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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