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Insights from 2017’s Most-Read Cover Stories

Orangetheory Fitness cover story

Reflection is often the stepping stone to inspiration. And there’s no better place to draw inspiration from than the successful clubs and owners featured in Club Solutions’ cover stories.

This article contains a collection of insights from the five most-read cover stories of 2017 in Club Solutions Magazine. With any luck, you’ll be able to find a spark of creativity by reflecting on what these success stories have taught us.

February 2017

Story: Pioneers of Human Performance

Club: EXOS

EXOS, formerly known as Athletes’ Performance, is in the business of integrated human performance training and strives to meet the needs all athletes require to achieve optimal performance. The company’s methods to do so are built on four pillars: mindset, nutrition, movement and recovery.

“Our goal was to provide the finest performance systems, specialists and platforms seamlessly integrated to efficiently and ethically enhance our clients’ performance,” explained Mark Verstegen, the founder of EXOS.

Through its creation of breakthrough technology, EXOS has established itself as a global brand that is at the forefront of human performance, innovation and excellence. One great example of this is the EXOS Energy Systems Development (ESD) Technology, a software that runs on select pieces of Precor cardio equipment. The software provides a user-friendly experience, drives member engagement, results and retention, while also improving operational efficiency.

“What we’re trying to do with ESD Technology is enable trainers and strengthen their scale of services,” said Kevin Elsey, the vice president of the performance innovation team at EXOS. “Some clubs have 6,000-plus members, and there’s no way for a staff of 10 trainers to write personalized plans for all those populations. What we wanted to do is provide this platform to allow operators to really amplify the impact.”

Read the full story here.

June 2017

Story: Let’s MUV

Club: MÜV Brands

MÜV Brands is a unique franchise that boasts three concepts: MÜV Fitness (large-box, full-amenity facilities), MÜV Training Strength (boutique-size facilities), and MÜV Training Strength programming for non-MÜV branded clubs. And at the core of all three concepts is an intense focus on member results. Therefore, member onboarding is a large focus of the company, and a huge reason for MUV’s high member retention rate.

“We’ve seen organizations that focus on making money, and I’m a heavy proponent in this business that results equals referrals, which equals retention, which equals revenue,” explained Tallman. “If your biggest goal is to make money, it shows in the relationship with the member — it puts the member in a different place as far as importance in their results. It’s easy for a member to leave a monthly bill, but it’s not easy for them to leave a place where they’ve established relationships, seen results and had their lives changed from exercise.”

And what really keeps people coming back is the sense of community that MÜV has fostered within its clubs. “The coolest thing for me to see is when groups of members are coming to the gym, working out together, and the only reason they’re connected is because they just happened to be on the same fitness challenge team three years,” said Jeff Carlson, a MÜV Brands partner who operates the MÜV Fitness clubs in Washington and Oregon. “They form this bond because they’re going through the journey together and sharing their experiences, the successes, the struggles, the pain, and they have these bonds that hopefully last a lifetime.”

Read the full story here. 

September 2017

Story: Momentum Shifting Up

Club: Orangetheory Fitness

Life is going to knock you down — probably a lot. But instead of giving up, you have to focus on what you can control to get back on your feet.

Ellen Latham, the co-founder of Orangetheory Fitness, learned this lesson the hard way nearly a decade ago after being let go from her job. To overcome, “I used a technique my father taught me as a child,” recalled Latham. “It is called ‘Momentum Shifting Up.’ He was a football coach and it is a sports psychologist technique where as a coach when your players are having the most challenging moments, you as a coach keep focusing on what they have instead of what they don’t have. So I focused on what I had, which was a Pilates certification.”

That perseverance led to the founding of one of the fastest-growing fitness franchises in the world — Orangetheory Fitness, which has 700 locations in 45 states and 12 countries outside the U.S. as of September.

Orangetheory’s success comes from its focus on the psychological benefits of working out. By encouraging members to feel successful in whatever workout they’re doing, Orangetheory creates thousands of raving fans.

And it was all possible because Ellen Latham focused on what she could do, rather than what she couldn’t.

Read the full story here.

October 2017

Story: Urban Legacy

Club: Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago

Thanks to an $80 million renovation and expansion project, Steven Schwartz, the president and CEO of Midtown Athletic Clubs, has cemented his family’s legacy with one of the premier health clubs in the world. The facility is visually stunning, with cutting-edge design features and the best-of-the-best amenities — all of which play a huge role in the club’s attractiveness.

But what truly sets Midtown apart is its commitment to community. “As you walk through you get a real sense of community,” said Schwartz. “It’s designed very specifically around the idea of seeing people you know, and interacting with people you know.”

The facility also draws inspiration from boutique models, treating each space as an unique, individual concept, and thus creating “clubs within clubs.”

This model has something for everyone, and Midtown strives to help provide its members with an encompassing sensory experience. And as we’ve learned from the Chicago club, putting so much focus on the member experience — from the visual to the sensory — will go a long way in establishing a lasting legacy.

Read the full story here.

December 2017

Story: World Class


Branding is everything, and you won’t find a stronger brand identity than the one at UFC GYM. The dynamic fitness franchise has expanded to over 140 locations since 2009, and has done so by staying true to its mission of helping members overcome their “personal fight,” whatever that may be.

“UFC GYM brings a purpose to why people workout and why they get involved with fitness,” said Adam Sedlack, the president of UFC GYM. “Somebody is always a little bit more empowered than when they initially walked through our door. We strive to create a sense of community and a fun environment — everyone is welcome here.”

The success of the club has even sparked the interest of former MLB All-Star Alex Rodriguez, who invested in the company in March 2017. “I saw UFC GYM as one of the most growing and exploding brands around the globe,” said Rodriguez.

This story also revealed UFC GYM’s latest franchise concept: CLASS by UFC GYM. The boutique model centers around two unique classes — BOX and HIIT — and ranges in size between 2,500 and 3,500 square feet.

An aspect of the boutique concept that makes it so unique is its use of member-facing technologies such as Hykso and FitMetrix, which both allow members to track the results of their workouts and follow their progression. This technology, combined with talented coaches, makes CLASS by UFC GYM a compelling brand extension for UFC GYM.

Read the full story here.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine. He can be reached at bobby@peakemedia.com.

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