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Insights from 2018’s Top-Read Cover Stories

Takeaways from Merritt Clubs

Over the past year Club Solutions Magazine has shined a spotlight on a number of innovative health club operators making a positive impact on the health and fitness of their communities, in a variety of different ways. Here, we share insights and takeaways from each of these unique cover stories that other operators can learn from.

Frank Napolitano and Chris Roussos.

Fired Up at 24 Hour Fitness

Club: 24 Hour Fitness

On the Cover: Frank Napolitano, president; and Chris Roussos, CEO

Angle: In May 2017, Chris Roussos was named CEO of the San Ramon, California-based 24 Hour Fitness — which saw him transition from a 16-year career in healthcare to one in fitness. The cover story highlighted Roussos and Napolitano’s plans for the company, including a partnership with Spartan and investments in a member-facing mobile application offering members personalized and prescriptive workouts.

Takeaway: Although 24 Hour Fitness is investing in technologies — such as a member-facing mobile app — like many other clubs are, Roussos explained it’s still important to ensure in-club experiences remain a strong suit.

“As we’re looking at all these other strategies — digital, and the other projects we’re executing — we will never lose sight of the fact we still have nearly 4 million members who are coming in multiple times a week to workout, so we need to and will be extraordinary at that,” said Roussos.

Read the full story.

Mark de Gorter, John Quattrocchi and Steve Strickland.

Workout Anytime’s Franchise Success Story

Club: Workout Anytime

On the Cover: Co-founders Steve Strickland and John Quattrocchi; and COO Mark de Gorter  

Angle: Workout Anytime’s foundation began in Douglasville, Georgia, in 1999. At the time, co-founders Steve Strickland and John Quattrocchi had a dream of building a value-priced franchise with low overhead that could be easily replicated throughout the U.S. Since, the franchise has grown to more than 150 clubs in 19 states.

Takeaway: In 2009, Workout Anytime sold just one franchise, which was disheartening for its co-founders, considering how much momentum the company had created up to that point.

“But if I could give one piece of advice it would be, if you really believe in something don’t give up,” said Strickland. “I spent a lot of sleepless nights thinking about what we were doing wrong, and we made the decision shortly thereafter to expand outside of Georgia and open our first club in Tennessee. We just kept stepping up to the plate every day, things started to happen again and we started to grow.”

Read the full story.

Victor Poma.

The Relentless Victor Poma

Club: Fitness 19

On the Cover: Owner and CEO, Victor Poma

Angle: Victor Poma’s Fitness 19 locations have tripled in size from the first club, loaded with full-service amenities such as cycle studios, aerobics rooms, locker rooms, showers, saunas, kids clubs, tanning, massage, retail pro shops, dedicated functional training areas and much more.

Takeaway: However, Poma explained in order for the larger concept to provide true value, it must have the right people supporting it. The “human element,” he explained, is crucial.

“We know people buy with their hearts and not their minds,” said Poma. “People connect with people, not companies, brands or products. We are not just selling a gym membership. We are selling a relationship and an experience. Our true value proposition is emotional connection, and that starts and ends with each and every person on our team. They are the true heroes that are changing lives.”

Read the full story.

Mark Miller.

Metamorphosis: The Transformation of Merritt Clubs

Club: Merritt Clubs

On the Cover: Mark Miller, COO

Angle: Baltimore’s Merritt Clubs has undergone a metamorphosis, the result of key changes within the organization that have made it stronger and better positioned for success than ever before.

One example is the company’s rebrand from Merritt Athletic Clubs to Merritt Clubs in early 2017. In addition, it invested $9 million in capital upgrades throughout all of its nine locations. And lastly, the brand has made a concentrated effort to select the right team members who want to stay with the company for the long-term.

Takeaway: As Miller explained, the investment in employee benefits and retention makes sense, when you consider that the company’s staff are the key drivers of its purpose and values.

“We live purpose, not policy, and at the end of the day, our teams simply do the right thing and members see it, feel it, and now we hear it,” said Miller. “However, we still have so much to do. In my opinion, we are just scratching the success surface. We are looking at how we can cover 100 percent of benefits, how we attract and retain team members for life, how we can offer more employee life skills training, and how we can deliver more value for members and our communities. In all we do, it’s about making a difference.”

Read the full story.

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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