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‘My Most Unexpected ROI Moment’


As business operators, it’s likely you’ve made investments you had a good hunch would pay off, and it turned out you were right. But what about the investments you weren’t sure about? Did you see a good return on investment (ROI), or was the investment a dud?  

Here, club owners and operators showed their most unexpected ROI moments that surprised them in a good way.

Joe Cirulli, Founder & Owner

Gainesville Health and Fitness

“Often when we think of ROI we think of a financial investment. Though financial investments are critical to our success, they’re not the only type of investment that can produce a great ROI.

Taking the time to read and learn has probably paid off more than any amount of money I could have invested. A subscription to the Harvard Business Review lead me to an article by Jim Collins well before he wrote the book “Good to Great.”

That one article gave me a new way of looking at my company. It totally changed the way we defined our vision, and that led to a major revamping of how we hired and trained new employees. That one article may be more responsible for the success of GHF than anything else I had done to that point.

Books have also had a major impact on our company. Maybe I should refer to it as ROB (Return on Books). A book I read 5 years ago totally influenced the redesign of our centers. It was called “The New Rules of Retail,” and it spelled out the challenges department stores were confronted with.

I realized their challenges were the same ones the fitness industry faced. I brought my architect Rudy Fabiano on board as well a my construction team. Over the last 4 years we have made the changes to not only prepare us for today, but well into the future.

I believe taking the time to think and learn may be the most important investments we may ever make to our company.”

Cher Harris, Assistant General Manager

The Houstonian Club

“Our largest ROI this year has been on the training and development of our club managers on budgeting tools and software we’ve created to save on expenses. Our goal has been cut expenses 10 percent this year without compromising the services, amenities and programs we offer our membership. We are essentially eliminating the proverbial ‘fluff’ in our expenses.”

Adam James, General Manager

Toluka Lake Tennis and Fitness Club

“One of the best ROI experiences ever was hosting the National College of Exercise Professionals (NCEP) personal trainer certification course. It actually didn’t cost anything, and all we had to do was provide the conference room and promote the course to the staff and members of the club.

We had five of our current trainers get re-certified in the course, and we also had seven people get certified, and then we hired them. There were several other Group X instructors who took the class and upped their game in classes like boot camp and sports conditioning.

NCEP specializes in teaching functional training, so the course also improved the overall focus and results for our training department.

The most unexpected ROI came from one of the front desk staff members who took the course. He was already an exceptional employee with great organizational and leadership skills. After getting certified, we made him part of our personal trainers and he immediately achieved amazing success. He soon took on greater responsibility in the department, and we eventually made him a supervisor. Within a year he was promoted to fitness manager and now he oversees the entire program.

As a club owner or manager, there are many things to invest in, however, I truly believe the greatest investment is in education and in your people. Hosting an NCEP personal training certification course has had an incredible impact on our entire club.

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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1 Comment

  1. Stephanie Lyons September 2, 2016

    I love what Joe Cirulli had to say about thinking and learning and how he took a retail concept and applied it to the fitness industry. Education is all around us, even when we might think it doesn’t apply to us, if we are open to it. As the President and Lead Master Trainer for Barre Intensity, http://www.barreintensity.com, I can also closely relate to Adam James and investing in education. Barre Intensity runs barre instructor training courses across the country for boutique studios as well as health clubs and gyms. We understand that the fitness industry is ever changing and the only way to stay ahead of the curve, or truthfully stay afloat, is with continued education and investment in your staff.


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