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Ask an Expert In Print

Ask an Expert: Heather Hudson

Heather Hudson, 9Round

You have questions, we have answers. This month we spoke with Heather Hudson, 9Round co-founder and COO, about reaching members of all shapes and sizes.

Heather Hudson, 9Round9Round is well known for its ability to assist beginners and advanced fitness levels. Do you think this is a key to its success — being able to reach customers of all shapes and sizes?  HH: My favorite part about our gym is that we can train each member on their level without the need for beginner classes or advanced classes. We spend time getting to know our clients — their fitness goals, any physical restrictions, health issues — because we want to be instrumental to their successes. We have an intimate setting in our gyms so we can customize the effort level for each client. They aren’t just a number. It works. People love it.

What else do you think other gym operators can learn from looking at 9Round’s model? HH: People want to feel valued, and this advice is not just for gym owners. We keep the most simple, but often lost arts of business, at the forefront of our minds at all times. It’s all about ensuring a pleasant and memorable experience for each member. So simple things like greeting people by name, thanking them as they leave and giving them the service they came for well after they’ve been members, not just at the beginning of the relationship. We educate and properly train each employee to make sure they have the same customer service mindset. Customer service is dead in so many businesses. We brought it back.

What are some tips you can provide for how club operators can make fitness more accessible to the consumer? HH: I’d say two things: One, look at what is preventing people from getting fit and solve that problem. Two, don’t be mediocre at lots of different services — be world class at one and then you’ve really got something. No one does a 30-minute kickboxing, non-class-based circuit with a trainer included, like we do.

Over the past few years, what is the top lesson you’ve gleaned you think other club operators could learn from? HH: Think bigger. Most people don’t think big enough, so they constantly miss their goals. You have to stop holding back and really go for it. If you aren’t, then you are always going to be ho-hum. Be gutsy and be bold. Do all that and still be smart. You can do both.

What’s it been like to see 9Round grow so quickly? HH: Surreal and amazing. I’m so proud of what my husband and I have managed to produce together. We couldn’t do it without our incredible teams, though. We are very fortunate to be surrounded by very hardworking and passionate individuals who understand our mission. We are very excited at all the entrepreneurialism that we get to see, be a part of, promote and watch. It is incredible, but I am not surprised we are here because we intended it from the very beginning. People ask, “Did you ever think you’d get here?” and we say, “Yes,” because that was the whole plan. I don’t think you can go anywhere if you hadn’t thought it first.

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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