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4 Different Health Club Models, All Focused on a Healthier World

During IHRSA 2016 in Orlando, you may notice something I’ve been observing for many years. Nearly every club operator is convinced that they’ve found the way to make the world healthier. 

The passion within the health and fitness club industry is uncompromising; the enthusiasm palpable; and the points of view varied and complex. And one of the most positive and impressive results is a wealth of options for consumers. 

There’s a wide, and expanding, range of business models, some of them designed to cater to specific interests or populations, and others that appeal to and accommodate more than one cohort. 

Let’s visit some of the distinct camps at the convention, and listen in on what their proponents have to say about the way they’ve found to bring health to all. 

1. The Medical-connection Camp 

The medical-connection camp is talking about aligning its offerings with those of the medical community. Many of these clubs have physicians, nutritionists, physiologists, therapists, and other healthcare professionals on staff. They further differentiate themselves by tracking and improving biomarkers, thereby demonstrating program efficiency. Their success is driven by referrals from physicians who understand that regular physical activity is the best medicine. 

This camp is convinced that medical integration is the future of the industry … and they’re right. 

2. The Full-service Camp 

The full-service camp is talking about casting a wide net to engage and serve everyone. These operators differentiate themselves by having something—or many things—to interest and satisfy every conceivable sort of member. Their physical plants include large workout areas, swimming pools, tennis and racquetball courts, mind-body and sports-specific areas, and on and on. You name it—they have it. 

This camp is convinced that full-service is the wave of the future … and they’re right. 

3. The Budget Camp 

The budget camp is talking about attracting the masses—millions of nontraditional members. They pride themselves on offering great value at reasonable prices. Their clubs have well-equipped workout areas, but forgo the extras, such as pools, personal training, and group exercise rooms. They often have net promoter scores (NPSs) higher than most people might expect—because their members want clean, no-frills clubs, and that’s what they get. 

This camp is convinced the budget model reflects the industry’s future … and they’re right. 

4. The Studio Camp 

The studio camp is talking about the owner’s chosen discipline, whether it be cycling, yoga, barre, or the martial arts. The list of specialties grows longer virtually by the hour. These people are artisans who differentiate themselves by virtue of the exercise form they espouse. Their clients are true believers in the method taught, but, hardly single-minded, they often hold a membership at another club as well. In this case, the physical plant isn’t as important as the program; as a result, the instruction may take place inside a plush studio, a large club, a bare-bones garage, or, even, a park. 

This camp is convinced the studio model offers a look at the industry’s future … and they’re right. 

Ours is a big industry, with room for everyone! 

So, during the upcoming convention, tune in to the conversations. Note the passion in the voices of those who are championing their particular piece of it. And no matter what camp you’re in—tell your story, and make your case. 

This industry, with all of its variations, is truly the wave of the future … and that’s absolutely right.


Reader Comments (1)

Any posts or articles on the future of onsite corporate fitness centers?
February 17, 2016 | Unregistered Commentersheila sharemet

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