April 2022 Club of the Month, presented by ABC Fitness Solutions:
Mercedes Club, est. 2012
Mercedes Club is an 80,000 square foot, urban fitness oasis in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen in New York City. The club combines sleek, modern design and lavish amenities with great customer service and an inclusive environment.
Here, Tonya Jacobs, the general manager of Mercedes Club, discusses the club’s keys to success, how it uses technology to enhance the member experience, why operators should be emphasizing mental health and more.
How does Mercedes Club stand out?
Mercedes Club is more than just a gym. We want our members to feel like they belong to more than just an amenity. We have lounge areas both indoor and out, as we encourage our members to stay awhile. Community is important to us. We host all kinds of monthly events from wine tastings to trivia and game nights. This is part of what makes us different from other gyms. From June through September we host weekly movie nights under the stars. Our recreation terrace has an outdoor movie theater and we provide wireless headphones for audio for a more immersive experience. We also conduct various types of group exercise classes outdoors, like cycling and meditation, and our wireless headsets are used for both.
How is Mercedes Club using technology and innovation to reinvent the club for members?
The club used a member app to allow for all online scheduling during the COVID pandemic, when only a limited number of people were permitted in the club at one time. In addition, we have also implemented an online reservation protocol for our lap swimming pool that allows members to skip wait times for swimming and secure their own lap lane each visit. Lastly, the club takes a very personal touch with direct text, allowing instant service or help if needed.
In the upcoming months we will be upgrading our app to ABC IGNITE Engagement. We are excited about all of its cutting-edge features. In particular, we will be able to eliminate entry fobs for our members. Instead, they will be able to enter the club through the app on their phone and check in all at the same time.
How is Mercedes Club all-inclusive when it comes to programming and culture?
Mercedes Club has a little bit of everything and it’s all included in a basic membership, including access to 10,000 square feet of cardio and strength training equipment, and four dedicated group exercise studios that host a robust schedule of classes weekly such as boxing, cycling, yoga, sports conditioning, dance and more. We have a 25-meter indoor lap pool, saunas, steam rooms and jacuzzi, two grand outdoor sundecks, Bocce Ball courts, table tennis, an outdoor movie theater, and a rooftop resort style pool and billiards. In addition, we offer a co-working wifi lounge, cafe and a spa for massage therapy.
Mercedes Club is nestled in Hell’s Kitchen New York, known for its diversity, culture and its theater district. Our staff are also diverse and come from different backgrounds and experiences with one common goal in mind — kindness, caring and warmth that in turn adds to our all-inclusive culture.
How do you strive to be welcoming to all?
Through our service culture. All employees go through a rigorous interview process ensuring they are a “fit” for our service culture. Our mission statement and our core values also help drive our service culture. In addition, we treat our employees like our customers: with kindness, caring and warmth, which in turn makes them want to extend the same.
What do you think is your biggest differentiator when it comes to offering a great member experience?
Personalized service and a sense of community. We recognize that service is not a “one size fits all” option and we keep this in mind when making decisions or necessary exceptions. Service is not always black and white — we live in the gray. Community is especially important to us since we are adjacent to the Mercedes House Residences. Almost half of our member base are Mercedes House residents and the rest are people who live in the neighborhood — which in turn, means the Mercedes Club is an extension of their homes. In addition, our monthly events and programming contribute to the sense of community in the club. Members come to mingle and meet other like-minded people in a fun and informal atmosphere.
What’s a trend you’re seeing in the fitness industry that other operators should keep on their radar?
I think we have all experienced some kind of hardship or loss over the last two years because of the COVID pandemic. Specifically in New York City, health clubs were mandated to be closed for almost six months. People missed their health clubs and people missed connecting with other people. With technology at the forefront of most things these days, I think it’s important not to lose sight of the human connection. I hear this from prospects and club members daily. Your local health club can provide that connection, plus an overall sense of community and support. Brick-and-mortar fitness options are here for the long run.
I also think a focus on mental health has become more important than ever now. Club operators should include the benefits of exercise and mental health in their programming and marketing. We have added several meditation classes to our weekly schedule for this reason. No physical exercise takes place in the class, just breath and visualization work.
If you could give one piece of advice to other gym operators, what would it be?
Stay true to your culture whatever that is — your mission, vision and core values. It should be the driving force around your decision making.
Be good to your people — your members and your team members alike. Happy employees will make members happy. Happy members will be loyal and will stay, which in turn contributes to your bottom line.
Created in partnership with ABC Fitness Solutions. Visit abcfitness.com for more information on how they can help your fitness business.
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