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Entries in Bonnie Patrick Mattalian (7)


IHRSA Webinar: Revolutionizing Member Retention with New Concepts

Image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.netThe word “retention” is thrown around a lot in our industry. Obviously, keeping current members is vital to clubs’ welfare. 

The question is, then, what is the best method to keeping those who pay to continue to up their membership when it expires?

IHRSA’s next webinar, “Revolutionizing Member Retention with New Concepts,” will give examples of how host Bonnie Patrick Mattalian does it at MediFit. The webinar is Thursday, April 10, 2 to 3 p.m. EST.

Read on to learn more about Mattalian's webinar.


Learn ways to increase non-dues revenue with this week's webinar

Are you looking for new ways to generate revenue, outside of what you take in from dues?

This week's webinar, "Growth By Numbers: Strategies to Increase You Non-Dues Revenue," might just give you the ideas you haven't thought of, and ways to execute them.

Bonnie Patrick Mattalian, vice president of MediFit, will be the presenter of the webinar, which is Thursday, Dec. 6, 2-3:30 EST. The topics she will touch on include:

  • Understand how to define your target market to determine what programs and services will appeal to those groups;
  • Identify how to set pricing, effectively market and sell to various types of potential participants;
  • Discover multiple ways to ensure participants sign up for and are engaged in ancillary services;
  • Identify current and upcoming trends in the industry around ancillary services and programs;
  • Explore case studies to give real life ideas on successful program and service implementation strategies.

For more information and to register for the webinar, sponsored by Cybex, click here.


Nuggets from IHRSA 2012

By Patricia Amend

As I write this, it’s late afternoon on Friday, March 16, and I’m sitting in the food court, taking a breather, at the IHRSA 2012 Convention and Trade Show, which has been going on since Wednesday of this week at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Right now, if you were to walk through the massive exhibit hall nearby, you’d see dozens of youthful, well-muscled, amazingly fit individuals wearing bright, body-hugging fitness apparel as they demonstrate a wide range of programs and products, from Spinning to Zumba to Kangoo Jumps. Hundreds of exhibitors, many of whom are new to the event this year, are presenting their newest, smartest and most innovative products to the world for the very first time (the convention truly is a global event).

Kangoo JumpsThe two-day trade show will wind down in about an hour, and it will still be wonderfully busy, hectic, and crowded, right up until the doors close at 6 p.m. Dozens of deals are being closed at this moment…And while the hard numbers won’t be in for days, this year’s show promises to be the best since 2008.

It’s truly been a pleasure to experience the show, and relish the robustness of the fitness industry, which has not only prevailed, but actually grown stronger over the last few years. As Joe Moore, IHRSA’s president and CEO remarked when he spoke on the state of the industry: “The future looks bright. According to IBIS World, the industry will see about 3% growth over the next few years. We’re remarkably recession-resistant.”

As for the keynote speakers and the nearly 150 sessions, workshops, and seminars—they’re among the best that I’ve experienced in more than 20 years of working with IHRSA. I know that I’ll walk away from this show feeling recharged, renewed, inspired, and happy, and I imagine that many of the 10,000-plus attendees will feel the same when they board their flights for home.

Here are just a few miscellaneous nuggets of wisdom—among the many that I’ve mined over the last three days:

• Art Curtis, the chairperson of IHRSA’s board of directors: “How many people in this room have a weight-loss program? IHRSA’s dedicated health-promotion programs can help you get a weight-loss program started.”

• Bonnie Patrick Mattalian, the vice president of MediFit: “Have a joining fee sale only twice a year; Nordstrom’s does a major sale twice a year.”

Simon Sinek• Simon Sinek, keynote speaker: “People buy why you do what you do. And that comes from what you believe.”

• Guy Kawasaki, keynote speaker: “Enchant people with the story of why you opened your club.”

Guy Kawasaki

                                                            I know that I’m planning to get my hands on the mp3 recordings of my favorite sessions, and you may want to do the same. You can also look for coverage of the show right now at, and in the May and June issues of CBI.

And we can all look forward to IHRSA’s 32nd Annual International Convention and Trade Show, to be held March 19-22, 2013, in Las Vegas.

- Patricia Amend is the executive editor of CBI and can be contacted at


Pro Shop Pros...Plus!

By Patricia Glynn

In this month’s edition of CBI magazine, in the roundtable feature ‘Riding Out the Recession: Five Pro Shop Experts Share the Secrets that Ensure Success,’ I reported that retail spending, at the onset of 2010, had finally begun to recover. Happily, the trend has continued—and with seemingly no end in sight: according to Jharonne Martis, director of consumer research for Thomson Reuters, the Manhattan-based information company, the retail industry is “definitely showing an upward trend.” For January, the company accounts, same-store sales rose a robust 3.3%; then, for March and April collectively, sales grew even further, ending at roughly 4.8%. “Consumers,” Martis told the New York Times, “are spending.” Finally!

On that upbeat note, I’d like to share with you some additional insight provided by our five accomplished Pro Shop pros. As a reminder, our panel consisted of: Lara Price, retail buyer for the Coop, the 800-square-foot shop within the Cooper Fitness Center at Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas; Bonnie Patrick Mattalian, president of The Club Synergy Group, a consultancy in River Edge, New Jersey; Eric Ricard, national director of spas at five SportsClub/LA locations, which are under the direction of Boston-based Millennium Partners Sports Club Management LLC; Lynda Reis, manager of the 800-square-foot pro shop at Chicago’s Midtown Tennis Club; and William Banos, vice president/COO of Gold’s Gym Los Angeles, part of the international chain of clubs.

CBI: When hiring for a retail position, what traits and skills are most desirable in a potential associate? And throughout employment, what sort of training/educational protocol will help staffers reach their utmost potential?

Lara Price: Personality is a key factor. You can easily teach someone to run a cash register and tag clothing, but you can’t teach personality. When hiring, we look for an outgoing, friendly person who will genuinely enjoy being a customer’s personal shopper. We try to find a person who we feel customers will connect with, someone they’ll enjoy just stopping into the shop and chatting with. Because great service is one of our core values, each of our staff members participates in extensive customer-service training. We work to ensure that they’re motivated, continually, and that they’re able to please the customer. Ultimately, we want to help them deliver what is, in the end, a great shopping experience.

Bonnie Patrick Mattalian: The size of your shop will determine whether you need a dedicated full-time employee. As for the best person, they ought to be impeccably organized and very charismatic. They should be comfortable talking to anyone, at anytime. Conversely, they’ll also know when it’s best to just step back and allow the customer to browse. With regard to training, vendors should provide onsite instruction or, at the very least, a Webinar demo. Additionally, beyond basic product information, ongoing sales training is necessary. Staff should be instructed in varying selling techniques: how to identify customer needs; how to offer solutions in the form of product; and how to up-sell. This sort of education needs to be continually managed and updated regularly. Consistency translates into success.

Eric Ricard: We focus on hiring individuals who have sales experience coupled with a customer service background. And to ensure that our staff reach their potential, we offer extensive, comprehensive training in multiple areas, including sales, merchandise, and customer service.

Lynda Reis: Our associates are really vital to our success, particularly in terms of repeat business. We’re constantly striving to find ways to both improve our customers’ experience and to set ourselves apart from the competition. With that goal in mind, our employees all participate in a training program called “beREMARKABLE.” The goal is to teach staff how to build relationships with clients and how to make the shopping experience truly exceptional. A primary element is role-playing. Staff will act out different scenarios and, in the process, learn how to positively resolve a variety of situations. Overall, the program helps keep our associates engaged and motivated, while also educating them on best industry practices. As an adjunct, we also partner with equipment manufacturers who provide educational seminars. It’s ideal, as it keeps staff up to date with the latest industry information.

William Banos: We’ve put into place an entire orientation program designed to prepare our staff in all areas of retail service. One component of our education involves visits to high-end establishments in the area. By observing the typically outstanding techniques they employ, we then learn how to better serve our clients.

CBI: How do you determine which products to stock?

Lara Price: Learning what the latest and greatest trends are requires observation. Be attentive and proactive. In particular, be aware of what’s going on in your own club—get to know the members and find out what they need, what they prefer. It can be a bit of a trial-and-error exercise at first. But you’ll soon come to know what your clientele will prefer. I know now, for instance, that the color green, for this location, does not sell. In general, we tend to bring in clothing that works both for workouts and for when a member leaves to run errands—items that are functional yet stylish. Also, people recognize our company name, which is quite helpful; they come in looking for Dr. Cooper’s vitamins and books.

Bonnie Patrick Mattalian: You’ll want to pay attention to trends (eco-friendly “green” items, for instance, are very big right now) and make it your job to know what’s out there, what’s new. Also, be aware of the demographic you’re serving. Ideally, you ought to stay current and change product at least six times per year. Of course, in general, you’ll want to offer necessities, such as towels and locker locks. Other products to consider include gift baskets, body care items, pedometers, apparel, etc. Branded items are always good—T-shirts, water bottles, bags. Selling these items will promote your business when members utilize them out in the community. Tie-ins, too, can determine product; you may offer a stress-relief clinic and then sell related products, such as books, CDs, aromatherapy items, supplements, and such. And, when selecting a vendor, be sure to ask lots of questions, such as what their minimum order is and what the return policy is.

Eric Ricard: We seek to carry a variety of health and fitness products and it’s a team effort as far as determining what the next “hot” item is. Also, since we have clubs throughout the country, what we sell in a particular location depends on the needs of the people in that particular market. To figure out what will sell, we listen to the client—listening to customers’ needs is crucial.

Lynda Reis: We work to keep our apparel current and to feature the latest technology in racquets and shoes. Also, we’ll gladly fill special orders if there’s something we don’t carry. Customers really appreciate when we go that extra mile. When deciding what inventory to stock, I depend a great deal on feedback from both associates and customers. I think having a good eye is helpful, but what’s particularly important is utilizing current market data to determine future decisions. By analyzing past trends, we gain a better understanding of how to proceed.

William Banos: We have a dedicated retail director who handles product selection. She pays attention to prior sales—what sold, what didn’t. Additionally, she’ll visit trade shows to see what’s new and what’s available. Finally, she’ll keep in contact with members, listening to them, finding out what they want to buy. Also, we have our logo products—these are always very popular among both members and non-members alike. People will come in just to buy Gold’s Gym branded items. Then, along with specialty products, which maybe aren’t readily found elsewhere, we stock all the essentials and items that members may have forgotten at home. 


2010 Industry Projections

Bonnie Patrick Mattalian, Steve Krum, Bill McBride, Brent Darden, Herb Lipsman, and Melissa Rodriguez discuss industry projections for 2010:

Q: “Is there any information on projections for 2010 in the areas of membership growth as an industry percentage is concerned, member retention percentage, revenue growth (non-dues), and profitability of fitness clubs? ”

A: Every community in the country is different. Your center’s response to the current economic environment should be based on where you club is in its cycle of business development, how uniquely your center’s brand is positioned in your market, the value of your membership and the efficiency of your operations, and your programs/services offerings.

Although the worst of the recession may be “over”, the jobs market is still a challenge in most areas.As you work on your projections for next year, look at the latest demographic reports for your market area to determine any changes in household income and other factors in your potential target market, and challenge who your target market is and how your competitors are positioning themselves to determine your market capture rate for the coming year.

Depending on the economics of your specific market, we recommend being conservative with your projections, averaging about 2-3% growth over last year with a solid plan for execution.

Although the worst of the recession may be “over”, the jobs market is still a challenge in most areas. Be realistic about retention, and keep this in line with your average actual retention rates from the past year.

Many centers are starting to see a positive swing for this ancillary services/programs with a tie in to incentives, especially in group training and weight management/nutritional services. Some centers report up to 25-30% of revenues, although most clubs see 15-20% in ancillary revenues.

By managing payroll costs and implementing strict expense controls, we expect to see profitability back to 5- 17% for many centers.

Ms. Bonnie Patrick Mattalian, President
Club & Spa Synergy Group Consultants

A: 2010 is an unusually tough prediction for our industry, so our "Crystal Ball" may seem a bit conservative. It is obviously critical that one considers local economies, local unemployment rates, and both local business and residential growth census.

Despite a tough 2009 we remain optimistic about the profitability of our business and project new memberships growth rates of 5-9% at our established clubs.

Member Retention remains our #1 focus, and we hope to continue to achieve a retention rate of greater than 76% through value added membership programming and aggressive hospitality.

Despite a tough 2009 we remain optimistic about the profitability of our business...We agree with IHRSA's growth prediction in non-dues revenues and overall club profitability, and feel a simple "old school" approach toward enhancing the member experience is critical. We intend to grow non-dues revenues by providing more options. Depending on the member's time and budget, they may choose group fitness, private or semi-private training, small group training, or simply workout on their own. By helping each member develop their own "fitness road map" , we grow most revenue lines and have higher member satisfaction.

Steve Krum, Vice President of Facilities and General Manager
Spectrum South Bay

A: While 2010 is expected to be better than 2009 and there is much discussion about the “rebound”- unemployment and consumer confidence are key metrics that affect our growth. We expect retention to continue to improve and sales to be stronger than 2009.

Multiple factors affect each club – strength of sales team, operational excellence, reputation in the community, supply & demand in each market, as well as your value proposition. While there is no set standard I can give as to membership growth – 0-7% would be a broad range to consider based on the specifics of your club and market.

Bill McBride, Chief Operating Officer
Club One

A: In a recent meeting with twelve industry leaders / club owners from around the country, the topic of projections for overall revenue growth was discussed briefly. The consensus of the group was that almost all were forecasting a 3-7 percent improvement over 2009. In addition, the group felt that member retention would continue to be strong and that non-dues revenue would be the primary driver of revenue growth.

Brent Darden, General Manager / Owner
TELOS Fitness Center

A:IHRSA has collected limited performance information from a relatively small sampling of members for the first half of 2009. Overall, the commercial health club industry felt the negative effects of the national recession during the first two quarters of 2009, but most of the reporting clubs noted their ability to maintain bottom line performance by aggressively managing expenses, in spite of reduced revenues. IHRSA’s annual data survey (Profiles of Success) reports average non-dues revenue of 30 – 33% with median membership retention rates of 70-75%. Those clubs reporting results for the first two quarters of 2009 reported steadily increasing performance in non-dues revenue and EBITDAR, with EBITDAR increasing by as much as 7.0%.

As the jobs data improves so will membership sales and retention.There is no scientific forecasting data available on a broad scale at this time. Anecdotally, many of the top industry leaders are pointing to continuing challenges for membership growth during the remainder of 2009 and the first half of 2010. Many of these same leaders point to the unemployment rate as a leading indicator for a return to membership growth. As the jobs data improves so will membership sales and retention. Non-dues revenue is likely to rise in concert with household income increases. In the meantime, the most successful club operators will continue to creatively manage operating expenses until such time as gross revenues begin to show significant movement upward.

Herb Lipsman, CEO
The Health Club Company

A: In IHRSA’s new Monthly Trends Survey this year, one of the items gathered were the business outlook of club operators. Each month, an overwhelming majority of club operators anticipated consistent or improved revenues in the upcoming months. As part of an industry that has remained solid throughout challenging economic times, club operators have reason to remain optimistic.

Overall, the industry is poised for continued success in 2010.The past four years have seen steady U.S. health club membership numbers. Loyal health club members have indicated the value they place on health and fitness as non-dues revenue increased by nearly four percent in 2008. In recent years, clubs participating in IHRSA’s annual Industry Data Survey (as reported in IHRSA’s annual Profiles of Success) have reported a median range of 30-33% of total revenue coming from non-dues sources. Median member retention for these leading clubs has typically hovered between 70-75%.

Although attracting new members may be the lifeblood of a health club, successful club managers find a way to control club costs and increase spending from current members. Managing these two aspects of a club closely will greatly contribute to profitability. IHRSA’s Quarterly Index of leading club-companies reported steadily improved performance in non-dues revenue and EBITDAR over the first six months of 2009. EBITDAR increased by as much as 7.0% for participants between the first quarter and second quarters of 2009.

Overall, the industry is poised for continued success in 2010. With sound management and innovative marketing skills employed by club operators, solid clubs can be expected to lead the way in member retention, non-dues programming, and ultimately, a healthy bottom line.

Melissa Rodriguez, Research Manager


How To Motivate Without Money

This week, experts Alex McMillan, Bonnie Mattalian, Ryan Vogt, and Diogo Angelino discuss how to motivate your personal training staff without money:

Q: "My club has frozen wages and has implemented a hiring freeze, making it difficult to keep our staff motivated. What are some creative ideas to keep my staff of 8 personal trainers focused and motivated?"

Alex McMillan NASM, ACE CPT, Owner
Fitness Profit Solutions

A: During challenging times you must focus on your team’s strengths. What can your TEAM do to drive the company’s non-dues revenue helping to right the ship? If your team realizes their efforts help the club’s bottom-line, you can expect improved performance. If your team of 8 knows that you believe in them and they have the ability to deliver their strengths. They’ll be more focused and motivates. Here is what you can do. Devote daily time to E.M.P.O.W.E.R. your team:

Education: Make those around you better.
Motivation: Show them your passion…and learn what drives theirs.
Preparation: Prepare like you are the busiest/most successful club in town.
Opportunities: Deliver opportunities to grow- lectures, classes, corporate fitness
WOW Factor: Teach your trainers to treat their clientele like King/Queens
Expectations: Your staff must know what is expected of them
Reward: Look for little reasons to recognize and reward your staff

Ryan Vogt, Fitness Director
Ryan also is a freelance writer, presenter and fitness consultant
Tri-City Court Club and LifeQuest Fitness Center

A: Personal Training revenues in most clubs have seen a significant decrease during the economic crisis. In most cases, that means the training team feels it in their pockets, and need an extra push to keep their eye on goals and service objectives.

Here are a few quick ideas to help inspire your team:

  1. Different things motivate different people. Have a good talk with the trainer and acknowledge what is going on. Find out if there are any barriers or stumbling blocks that can be easily removed. Is your club doing everything it possibly can to promote personal training?
  2. Give the trainer a project, event or program to begin working on for the next month. Ask them to outline the project in full with processes, costs, and anticipated ROI. If they don’t know how to do this, pair them with a mentor or coach them yourself. Give them the tools and resources they need to launch a successful program.
  3. Set in place a plan with small daily or weekly goals to achieve, so that the trainer is headed towards a certain goal or objective that can be accomplished in small steps. Recognize and reward effort.
  4. The best question to ask your staff every day is “What do you need from me?”. Don’t wait for someone to come to you to acknowledge a need or a challenge. Achieve more positive outcomes with an engaged and proactive leadership style.

Bonnie Patrick Mattalian, President
Club & Spa Synergy Group Consultants

A: From my experience in Portugal working with Personal Trainers, the best way to keep your PT staff motivated is to implement one or more of the following tips:

  • Pay them per PT session that they give to a costumer, for example, if you pay 17 Euros per one hour PT session and if one member of your staff does 50 PT sessions per month, he will receive 850 Euros. Allow them to work as long as they want, they can earn more money, but the club will not lose, because they will sell more;
  • Create levels of earning per PT session given, for example, 1 to 49 sessions a month they can earn 17 Euros. But for 50 or more they can earn 19 Euros a session. This will induce the increasing of membership retention and profit for the club; (remember to adapt the levels to your club reality) Finally, after implementing new strategies, you must stay alert and keep giving feedbacks to your staff, guide and inspire them for success.
  • Create a rank to input healthy competition between your staff, at the end of a month or a trimester, give a prize to the best seller and professional. Make sure every member of your staff and costumers know who is the best professional of the month/trimester;
  • Allow/”defy” them to work as a class instructor or on other fitness project and see if they fill more motivated with that.

Finally, after implementing new strategies, you must stay alert and keep giving feedbacks to your staff, guide and inspire them for success.

Diogo Angelino, Assistant Director
Solplay - Family Health Club


Is There A Standard Temperature In A Club?

This week, experts Rob Bishop and Bonnie Patrick Mattalian reveal the most comfortable interior temperature for different areas of a health club:

Q: "Is there a health club standard as to the temperature of the general area of a health club? Is there a standard for the temperature in an enclosed aerobic room?"

A: According to the American College of Sports Medicine's Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines, the "ideal" air temperature range for a health/fitness facility is 68-72 degrees. Locker rooms, hallways and lobby areas will feel comfortable at 72 degrees. These areas can be maintained at an even slightly higher temperature, without complaints, to save on cooling costs in the summer. Members will prefer exercise areas to be closer to the 68 degree range. I have been in facilities that set their AC temperature at 60 degrees in the summer so their members wouldn't sweat! It can never be too cool for some members. However, below 68 degrees would not only be extreme but an unnecessary waste of energy. An air temperature above 72 degrees can be very uncomfortable in an exercise area. Members will complain profusely.

...the "ideal" air temperature range for a health/fitness facility is 68-72 degrees. Humidity and air movement can also play an important role in how members "perceive" the temperature. High humidity will cause the room to feel stuffy and members will report that the room is "hot" even though the air temperature is in a comfortable range. Fans will make members feel more comfortable as the moving air will speed evaporation of sweat from the skin.

Rob Bishop, Owner
Elevations Health Club

A: We utilize the ACSM Facility Standards when setting guidelines for temperatures in a Fitness Center. Based on facility design, usage, programs and demographics, these ranges may vary significantly.

Most active fitness areas would have a temperature range of 68-72 degrees, based on the heat generated by amount of cardio equipment and usage patterns. Humidity levels, air flow, and outside air exchanges are also important factors to consider, depending upon the climate of your location and the physical plant of the structure. Include strategically placed fans on ceilings or around the room for optimal air circulation, lessening the load for cooling or heating.

Setting a standard for a group exercise room is more of a challenge, given the fact that different programs may present different temperature needs. Yoga, stretch, and some mat-based classes require warmer temperatures of 70-74 degrees (or higher in the instance of Hot Yoga), while high intensity classes at high room occupancy levels may require settings of 66-68 degrees. Temperature settings should be adjustable for this purpose in class settings.

Individual participants have different comfort levels and needs. According to Hervey Lavoie of Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative, the best approach is to employ a professional mechanical engineer who is experienced in the design of health clubs and the specifics of the facility programming needs.

Bonnie Patrick Mattalian, President
The Club Synergy Group Consultants