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Club Fitness and the Lift Local Philosophy


October 2021 Club of the Month, presented by ABC Fitness Solutions:

Club Fitness, est. 1983

If you lift up your community, your community will do so in kind. At least, that’s the premise that has come to fruition at St. Louis’ Club Fitness, a 19-location, employee-owned business with a “Lift Local” philosophy. Here, CEO Eric Schreimann discusses the program, why it empowers employees and members, and how it’s driving positive outcomes for the club.

Tell me about your gym and what makes it stand out from others. 

Club Fitness has emerged as the premier health club in the St. Louis market, offering 24-hour access at all 19 locations. With more than 400+ weekly classes, six high-energy fitness studios, a full line of premium cardio and strength training equipment, top-rated personal training, and a wide variety of amenities such as kids club, HydroMassage loungers, saunas, tanning, protein-packed smoothies, and even chef-crafted take-home meals, Club Fitness represents the forefront of modern-day fitness. In addition to premium Club amenities, our employee-owners elevate member experience by providing top-notch customer service, built on the foundation of clean, functional and friendly. 

What is Lift Local, and how did it come about? What’s the importance of the program?

Lift Local is the umbrella for all Club Fitness community involvement. As a locally owned and operated club, it’s vital our brand is more than just a place to lift weights. Our mission is to help people live happier and healthier lives through fitness. Beyond helping our members and employees achieve their fitness goals, our aim is to use our platform to impact people’s lives beyond just fitness (alone). We lift our community by being an active contributor and partner to other organizations supporting our community. We lift our employees by being a safe place to grow professionally and personally. Lifting Local aims to lift every “body” in the communities we serve. 

How does Lift Local position your brand beyond just a gym, but also a community and a place of belonging for members? 

The Lift Local program has helped our brand establish partnerships with local non-for-profit organizations like CARE STL, Crisis Nursery St. Louis, Little Bit Foundation, Girls on the Run, as well as establish partnerships with local leaders and county health departments. To establish your brand as a true community partner, you must be active outside of the gym. By design, this is the aim of the Lift Local program. When our members see Club Fitness giving back, a true community relationship is forged. 

How does Lift Local provide new opportunities for staff to grow? To have autonomy?

At its core, Lift Local is about bringing our team together to participate in community outreach programs, volunteer, and support other local St. Louis businesses. Club Fitness is continuously finding new ways to give back and partner with new organizations, and we’re happy to say our team continually jumps at the opportunity to volunteer. Each month, we have several opportunities that our team is invited to attend, such as participating in blood drives and completing challenges to help raise money for various organizations. Through these opportunities, our staff gains cross-functional experience with organizations operating outside of the fitness industry. 

How has the Lift Local program changed the way members engage with the brand and community?

The Lift Local movement extends well beyond the Club Fitness staff, as our members have also become active participants in the program. Whether it be on social media or in the club locations, the feedback from our members about our commitment to the community has been nothing but positive. We’ve seen our members engage with our social media through #LiftLocal by sharing how they support the program and are glad to be part of a health club that helps them engage in the community. Some community engagement includes donating at our Club Fitness hosted blood drives with American Red Cross, attending vaccination clinics through our partnership with the St. Louis County Department of Health, or becoming a contributor at fundraising events such as the Alzheimer’s foundation and Susan G. Komen. All these efforts give back to the St. Louis community, and Club Fitness is thrilled to have such an active member base that is on board with our commitment to lifting the local area.

How have you and Club Fitness empowered staff to take the reins and innovate? 

As an employee-owned business, our staff share in the company’s success. This is extremely powerful, especially when it comes to innovation. From our front desk employees to club managers and corporate staff, our team is constantly generating innovative new ways to help our members achieve their goals. Whether it’s a new piece of equipment, a new fitness program, or a completely new revenue stream, our employees are innovators, which continues to be a key driver of our success. 

If you could give one piece of advice to other gym operators, what would it be? 

Invest in your employees’ personal and professional development. Happy and engaged employees lead to happy and engaged members. 

Created in partnership with ABC Fitness Solutions. Visit abcfitness.com for more information on how they can help your fitness business.

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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