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Know your members' needs when considering a nutritional program

Eating healthy paired with being physically fit can do wonders for anyone. You will feel refreshed and have more energy, as well as being healthy that will lessen health issues and be a basis for a longer life. And, of course, eating right will enhance workouts.

More and more, health clubs are looking to add nutrition programs to give its members a well-rounded wellness option as members.

Q: We want to add a nutrition program to our club’s offerings. Do you have any suggestions about the best way for us to approach this process? We’re looking for recommendations on every aspect - from planning to implementation.

A: The Houstonian prides itself on creating an environment that provides members with a complete set of tools to help them achieve their health and lifestyle goals. One example of this is our 12-week program, which offers group fitness with a trainer, plus nutrition education with a dietitian.

To create your own program, you’ll have to learn about your members’ interest in nutrition. You’ll also need a dedicated and knowledgeable nutrition staff, led by at least one registered dietitian (RD) who’s certified to dispense nutritional and health advice.

Next, consider your members and their goals. Do they want, for example, to lose weight or to improve their sports performance? To find out, have them fill out a questionnaire, or offer them a few short seminars, conducted by the dietitian, on healthy eating plans or how to jump-start weight loss.

Once you’ve ascertained their interests, you can use this information to design the ideal nutrition program for your facility. To get the word out, create a marketing table in your club, overseen by your dietitian, to dispense information about these new services. The materials should help members understand the importance of educating themselves about nutrition, and the role that nutrition can play as they pursue their goals. Post details about these services on Facebook and your Website, and include them in your club’s newsletter.

Finally, review, reevaluate, and, if necessary, revise your program regularly.

Mark Stevens
Regional Director
Houstonian Health Clubs and Spas
Houston, Texas


A: My 15 years of experience in the corporate and commercial fitness sector have taught me that the best approach, when implementing a nutrition program, is to communicate a simple, personalized diet philosophy to members.

People have been inundated with a lot of false information about what constitutes a proper diet. However, fad or cookie-cutter diets simply don’t work. People also may be skeptical, recognizing that many popular diet plans are designed, primarily, to generate revenues. They need to be reminded that nutrition is a lifestyle - not a quick fix. So, when it comes to diet, a simple, honest philosophy is best.

You also need to provide members with the facts and program options that relate to their unique needs. For instance, if a person is diabetic, they’ll require a specific diet supervised by a dietitian or nutritionist. An obese member also will need guidance in order to adhere to a healthy, calorie-restricted diet.

Whether someone is trying to lose five pounds, or their doctor suggested that they lower their cholesterol—the goal, whatever it is, has to be approached in a way that’s appropriate for that particular member. Consider hiring a nutritionist or dietitian to plan and implement these tailored programs. Having this sort of professional on staff will provide your members with a sense of security. They’ll trust that the information they’re being given is correct, and that the program they’re following will, in fact, help them achieve their goals.

Jerome Scaturro
Program Manager
Mercedes Benz Fitness & Wellness Center
Montvale, N.J.


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