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In Print

Fun for the Whole Family


For many health clubs across the U.S., two particular segments of consumers have proved fruitful: youth and families. 

At Franco’s Athletic Club in Mandeville, Louisiana, youth and family-oriented programs and services are an integral component of the club’s offerings. “We attract families and youth by providing year-round, youth-friendly programs, including the area’s best childcare and summer camp programs,” said Julie Wells, the club’s program and events director. “We also constantly provide monthly family-oriented, youth-friendly events.”

And these programs have been a boon to the club’s profitability. “We have been profitable by doing this over the last 30 years as an all-inclusive youth, family and senior club,” said Wells.

Franco’s has made a name for itself as a club for all. No matter your age or fitness level, there’s something in the club for you. Every member is encouraged to experience its “non-traditional” offerings, and this commitment to inclusivity has set Franco’s apart in its community.

“We encourage members to bring their children, ages 6 weeks and up, to use our childcare facility,” said Wells. “We also encourage them to bring their parents — our senior fitness programming is robust, with over 2,500 members attending weekly.”

However, out of all of Franco’s youth or family-oriented services, the most popular is its childcare center, according to Wells. “Our prized youth amenity, Franco’s Childcare Center, provides parents a safe and secure place for their kids,” she said. “They’re able to mirror their parents’ exercise routines with a variety of youth-friendly exercise classes for all ages and separate playrooms for ages 6 weeks to 13 years old, all complete with outdoor covered playground facilities.”

Providing a space for children to be active and safe while parents are working out is a tremendous addition to the member experience, and has proven critical in attracting families, according to Wells. 

Along with its senior fitness programming and childcare center, Franco’s has several other offerings to engage current members and even attract new prospects with families, including an award-winning swim team; tennis teams and clinics instructed by world-class professionals; a wide variety of youth sports and fitness programs; Dive-In Movie nights; Parents’ Nights Out; and day camps.

All the aforementioned programs and services are a huge draw for families looking to workout in the same place. And while these offerings are a marketing tool in and of themselves, it also never hurts to do a little self-promotion.

“Our biggest sales force is our members and their referrals,” said Wells. “But we also send out quarterly magazines focused on our award-winning programming, and community health and lifestyle educational articles.”

Another major selling point for your youth and family offerings should be your instructors, especially when it comes to your youth programs. There are certain characteristics you should look for in instructors working with children and seniors.

After all, parents are trusting the safety of their children with you, and seniors are trusting you to help them safely exercise, so it’s absolutely critical to have staff members who are engaging, cool under pressure, and in sync with your club’s culture.

“We look for people who are innovative, fun, responsible, adult and child CPR-certified, and most importantly, enjoy working around children,” said Wells. “We can always teach someone the job, but the right personality is the first trait we look for.”

With the perfect combination of engaging personalities, a variety of programs and strong safety guidelines, Franco’s has established an exceptional slate of offerings for whole families. Between day camps, movie nights, youth sports and active aging fitness classes, there is a service or program for members of any age and ability. 

And according to Wells, that accessibility and inclusivity is what will keep members — and their families — coming back. “Franco’s was built around the concept of healthy lifestyles for families,” said Wells. “Our mission is to create a culture of health and fitness for all generations.”

If you’re looking to expand your offerings and reach additional demographics, it might be time to consider putting a higher priority on family-friendly areas and youth programs in your facility. 

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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