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Tuesday
Aug012017

EcoGym Galvanizes the Community by ‘Surfing the Wave of Sustainability’

This is an IHRSA featured post, brought to you by SportsArt.

The fitness industry is driven by passion. You still need to run a successful business, but fitness professionals pride themselves on a commitment to a larger mission: bringing health and wellness to the world’s population. By offering ways to help prevent chronic diseases like type-2 diabetes, a health club is a private business serving a public good. 

That’s why community outreach can be so crucial to a health club’s success. To convince potential members that they are part of a movement that’s bigger than they are is a powerful incentive. It satisfies the innate human need to make a difference.

In a recent article, Alexandra Black, IHRSA’s health promotions manager, listed five ways community outreach can supercharge your membership recruitment and retention efforts:

  1. Show your club cares about the community;
  2. Differentiate your club from the competition;
  3. Give your staff a sense of purpose;
  4. Keep members coming back for more;
  5. Attract new members and local media.

Fundraisers, joining community associations, building alliances with local charities and institutions—all of these outreach efforts can provide benefits.

What’s difficult is finding a mission that galvanizes a community. If your members are emotionally invested in your health club’s culture, they’ll become evangelists for your brand, recruiting like-minded friends and colleagues. And if you can tap into the millennial market, you’ll have a membership attuned to viral social engagement.

How do you turn your membership into a movement? One club operator in England discovered how.

Green Is the New Lean

Paul Crane was running two health clubs in the coastal U.K. cities of Brighton and Lancing, beach towns about an hour south of London. Dedicated to ecological causes, Crane decided to change the culture of his clubs to match his passion for protecting the environment and promoting energy sustainability.

He rechristened each club EcoGym, and instituted a new mission statement: “Surfing the wave of sustainability through our members, staff, and guests.” 

Urging his employees to “think globally, act locally,” Crane sought to reduce the clubs’ carbon footprint by going paperless, using low consumption showers, and getting rid of all trash bins to encourage members to take their discards home to recycle. 

Then Crane put his money where his activism was: He stocked his clubs with SportsArt ECO-POWR equipment. These innovative machines create energy by harnessing the power generated by exercisers that is then fed into the grid to offset power consumption. Crane liked that the equipment turned human effort into electricity to use in his facility and even in the surrounding community. So did his members.

The response was immediate. Crane began giving discounts to people based on how much energy they created from their workouts. He also teamed up with a local group, Surfers against Sewage, to organize regular “beach cleans,” inviting members and staff to beautify the local coastline. 

Crane feels that fitness and environmental consciousness are a perfect match. 

“It just seems right that as advocates of a healthy lifestyle that we should take the same care with the environment as we do with our own bodies,” he says.

This is a message that connects well with millennials, and Crane’s membership of those aged 20-30 has increased as energy costs have gone down. “In our new EcoGym that was opened in January 2017 in Brighton, 71% of our membership base are between the ages of 18-35,” he says. “We were audited by Green Circle late last year, and 8% [energy] savings were substantiated. Our aim is to move this to 30% by 2019-20 by just using SportsArt ECO-POWR equipment.”

Of course, this approach doesn’t appeal to all communities. But Crane feels the enthusiasm of members dedicated to green causes more than compensates for those who are indifferent or dismissive of the issue. The message is positive; nobody is shamed into joining.

“We actively devote time to offer outreach to local groups and organizations,” says Crane. “We have had a fantastic response from our local communities.” 

How SportsArt Can Turn Your Club into an Eco-Gym

For many, joining an eco-themed health club is more than buying a membership; it’s an affirmation of a deeply held belief. It builds brand loyalty nearly overnight, and remains a powerful retention incentive. 

The technology of SportsArt, manufacturers of ECO-POWR equipment, makes it easy to transform your club into a movement. Durable and easy to install, ECO-POWER cardio equipment is plugged into a wall outlet like standard machines, with no extra cords or boxes (external power devices) to mess with. It’s plug and play—and plug and save.

Not only will these machines reduce energy costs, but members, especially millennials, love the screen technology that connects to a smartphone app. The app tracks how many watts a member produces while exercising, then compares that number to everyday items, like a light bulb or gallon of gas, so a member has an immediate reward that goes beyond the physical benefits of the workout. It’s an electrifying feeling in every sense of the word. 

In the U.S., there is already a very successful application of the Eco Gym concept with Sacramento Eco Fitness, a sustainable indoor cycling studio. Owners of Sacramento Eco Fitness have ambitious plans to expand given the enthusiastic reception they’ve received.   

For more information on SportsArt’s ECO-POWER equipment, visit SportsArt or call 1-800-709-1400.