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The Relaxation Station

recovery services

Recovery is an integral part of fitness, and as members become more educated on this fact, the fitness industry is adapting. Today, more and more clubs are incorporating a number of recovery services, amenities and programs to meet the growing demand. 

“Regardless of age, recovery and self-care are important for people to keep up with their busy lives,” said Allison Flatley, the CEO of Allison Flatley Consulting. “Older generations viewed recovery as a reward or something special you do on occasion. That has changed. The younger generations see self-care and recovery as necessary.”

According to Flatley, recovery classes present a promising opportunity. “Clubs are in a wonderful position to offer recovery services,” she said. “Recovery services can be positioned to raise member value, as a revenue generator, or as a club differentiator. Many clubs are adding recovery and creating a new tier of membership, while other clubs are offering recovery services a la carte.”

Depending on your facility size and member needs, you may already have the perfect starting point for recovery services at your disposal.

“Most clubs have current services or classes they could make minor adjustments to and re-market as recovery,” said Flatley. “For example, clubs with smoothie bars could re-market the service as ‘refueling stations’ to emphasize nutrition as a solution to recovery.”

In fact, transforming underused spaces into recovery areas is an increasingly common trend. “Many clubs are taking existing space and repurposing it for recovery,” said Flatley. “Large lobbies or gathering areas can be modified to incorporate recovery services. Racquetball courts or underutilized classroom space can be converted to revenue-generating recovery space. Recovery does not require a lot of space.”

Gainesville Health & Fitness in Gainesville, Florida, has committed to building a culture that encourages recovery. It boasts a number of dedicated recovery areas, including a Chill Room, Aquix aquatic area, and J-Bar for post-workout smoothies and light snacks.

A member reads while using a water massage bed.

The Chill Room is a relaxation dream come true, complete with eight HydroMassage beds. “This is a beautiful, quiet space where members can relax as they manage stress and recover from workouts, hectic schedules and everyday life,” explained Sheila Gardner, the group fitness director at Gainesville Health & Fitness. “You can walk out feeling like a new person.”

The Aquix area, a comprehensive aquatics haven for worn-out exercisers, is equipped with state-of-the-art amenities, each of which promote relaxation. “Our Aquix area comes complete with a whirlpool, sauna, steam room, warm and cold therapy pools, and a lap pool,” said Gardner.

Like any offering, clubs should carefully evaluate their facilities before implementing recovery programs or services. According to Flatley, this planning should involve two steps.

“The first step is doing an assessment of your club’s programs, services and floor plan,” said Flatley. “The second step is to determine specific goals around recovery. Depending on the club’s business model, the approach may be different.”

Recovery can help members’ bodies feel rejuvenated after punishing workouts, so it’s important for clubs to present a variety of recovery offerings to stress its importance.

“Offering many options to members makes it easy for everyone to choose what is best for them as they discover how important recovery is,” added Gardner.

To aid members’ recovery or rehabilitation from injuries, Gainesville Health & Fitness offers several recovery-based classes. This includes a five-week program called “Alignment for Strength and Balance,” which focuses on correctly aligning and moving the body to prevent injuries.

In addition to teaching the importance of proper technique as a deterrent to injuries, there are several after-workout offerings clubs can incorporate into classes or offer as additional programming.

“Some popular classes include stretching and foam rolling,” said Flatley. “Clubs are also adding meditation at the end of classes, or having an entire class focus on mediation to address recovery.”

Your club’s recovery offerings can also extend beyond the fitness floor. Industry-wide, there are several recovery amenities developing as member needs continue to evolve.

An increasingly prevalent recovery amenity is the water massage bed. “The most common recovery solution I’ve seen is HydroMassage,” said Flatley. “Many clubs — low-cost and high-end — are adding it.”

Several other recovery services and amenities are being used to great effect industry-wide, with each club’s offerings being determined by its relative facility size, member demographics and fitness programming.

According to Flatley, some of the most commonly used recovery services include cryotherapy, floatation pods, infrared saunas, relaxation pods, barometric pressure systems, LED light therapy and electromagnetic therapy.

Personal trainers are also incorporating more “hands-on” recovery devices as a way to close out training sessions, said Flatley. There are three examples in particular she has seen frequently used, including TheraGun, Hyperice and Myobuddy Massager.

Equipping your club with the most innovative recovery amenities is a great way for members to feel more strongly connected to your club. The more they see a club invested in their wellness, the more likely they are to spend greater time at the facility.

However, according to Gardner, social interaction is just as essential to recovery as whirlpools or massage beds. And as simple as it may sound, having seats available near workout areas can aid in recovery by encouraging members to enjoy each other’s company while cooling down. 

“I believe our seating areas are also beneficial to recovery,” explained Gardner. “Our members can relax at any of our various seating areas throughout the club, socialize and meet with friends after a class or a workout.”

Clubs can play a big role in helping members achieve complete wellness by facilitating more social interaction. “Create recovery areas so members have safe, comfortable areas to relax and meet with friends,” said Gardner. “Socializing with others is so important to recovery.”

Another important recovery service clubs can provide is education. “First, educate members on the importance of recovery, and how it relates to injury and pain prevention,” added Gardner. “If our bodies are allowed to recover properly, we can simply function better. The body functions better when it is not constantly broken down from exertion.”

Part of that education is stressing the importance of relaxing the body and mind after an intense workout through social interaction, a water massage bed, or a series of yoga stretches.

Education on recovery should also extend to your club staff, said Flatley. “The American Council on Exercise offers a continued education class called ‘The 3 R’s of Exercise Recovery: Refuel, Roll, Remodel,’” she suggested. “And the Athletics and Fitness Association of America offers ‘Exercise: Exploring the Science of Recovery.’”

As your staff becomes more educated about recovery, your members will reap the benefits. When your members can feel more relaxed and rejuvenated upon leaving your facility, they’ll come back more frequently and more invigorated.

“Clients who take advantage of recovery services spend more time at the club and have longer membership retention,” said Flatley. “Clients and members report recovery gives them a sense of immediacy for problems they may have. Members want immediate results, which recovery addresses.” 

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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