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Entries in Gainesville Health and Fitness (17)


3 Tangible Ways Cloud Computing Can Benefit Your Health Club

You don't need to be an aerospace engineer to appreciate air travel—and you don't need to be an IT expert to grasp the possibilities of the cloud at your health club. Here are three examples of how cloud technology can boost your bottom line.

1. It makes basic functions like renewals, class signups, and member purchases more efficient and cost-effective.

Continue reading "3 Tangible Ways Cloud Computing Can Benefit Your Health Club."

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How to Develop Your Health Club's Strategic Plan

If they're honest, some health club owners will admit that they began with no greater plan than to combine their occupation and their calling. While that's commendable—you must have passion to succeed in any business—it's not enough. 

What you need to succeed over the long haul is a strategic plan. Here are some tips from industry leaders on how to formulate one.

Figure Out Where You Fit in the Health Club Landscape

The first thing you must do is identify what your club offers that others in your area don't. Is it lower cost? Better member benefits? More workout options?

Whatever sets your club apart, it should be emphasized in your strategic plan. That will help you leverage your competitive advantage. "Once your club is up and running you need to differentiate it, distinguish it, from the competition," wrote Joe Cirulli, president and owner of Gainesville Health & Fitness.

Continue reading "How to Develop Your Health Club's Strategic Plan."

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Increase Health Club Member Engagement Through Community Service (and Our New E-book)

Health clubs and health club operators have always been in the business of giving—by providing practical guidance, a safe environment, and inclusive programming options for people of all ages and abilities to be regularly active.   

And now more than ever, clubs are extending their generosity beyond their four walls by focusing on identifying the needs of the larger community and then creating programs to address these needs.  

Responses to these targeted program offerings have been tremendous. Community members that take part in club outreach initiatives see results ranging from a renewed motivation to be physically active to a significant increase in quality of life. Most importantly, any and all of these outcomes have left participants feeling happier, healthier, and better prepared to take on any new challenges that lie ahead. 

That’s why we’ve compiled a new e-book, “Increasing Engagement Through Community Service: Examples from IHRSA Clubs.” 

This member-only publication highlights case studies from five IHRSA members with impactful community service programs: 

  • Gainesville Health & Fitness
  • GIVE Fitness
  • Franco's Athletic Club
  • Gold's Gym Dutchess County
  • Club Fit 

The e-book’s community outreach case studies are meant to inspire you to offer a community service program of your own, provide ideas on new outreach programs, and encourage you to share this information with others who are interested in expanding the health and fitness industry’s reach beyond health club walls. 

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4 Ways Health Clubs Benefit from Offering Community Programs

Health clubs are in the business of serving people. And what better way is there to serve people than to get involved in opportunities that will make a lasting impact outside the four walls of your health club? 

Community programs act as a way to engage all people to participate in physical activity, regardless of factors such as age or ability. With the right resources, staff members, and organizational support it is possible for clubs to play a larger role in helping local residents be more active. 

In fact, what clubs are willing to actively give to the local community is often returned in the form of business prosperity. 

Here are four reasons health clubs could benefit from offering community programming: 

1. Shows that Your Club is Involved in the Community 

“Our ideas for programming come from simply answering a need,” says Noah Hastay, operations manager at Gainesville Health & Fitness, “with our vision of becoming one of the best companies for the world, we are striving to help those inside and outside of our four walls.” 

Asking local community members what they want out of a health club’s program offerings is a proven way to demonstrate a club’s ability to listen to member suggestions and personally address them as best as possible. 

 2. Differentiates Health Club from Competitors 

 “The initial decision to offer these programs was easy because our clubs have always supported this idea,” says Kim Kenyon, managing partner at Gold’s Gym Dutchess County, “and we wanted to create a way to differentiate ourselves from our competitors—providing these services gave us opportunities to do both.” 

In today’s ever-expanding market, most clubs offer some variation of yoga classes, personal training sessions, and group-X programs. However, programming specifically tailored to address a certain need—whether it is helping cancer patients regain their strength or sponsoring a road race to raise charitable funds for ALS—generates unique interest and makes any facility stand out in a sea of similarity.   

Continue reading "4 Reasons Health Clubs Should Consider Offering Community Programming."

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Gainesville Health & Fitness Helps Special Needs Athletes Get Fit

Zig Ziglar, the American author, salesman, and motivational speaker, once said, “You can have everything in life that you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” 

Gainesville Health & Fitness in northern Florida has applied this belief to their business model since its opening in 1978. Owner Joe Cirulli was the first person to suggest a commitment to servicing community members by offering traditional programs focused on making donations to support local charities. And, since then, the club’s programming has expanded to include a wide array of initiatives that help the residents of Gainesville and the surrounding areas be more active. 

“Our ideas for programming come from simply answering a need,” says Noah Hastay, Gainesville’s operations manager. “With our vision of becoming one of the best companies for the world, we are striving to help those inside and outside of our four walls.” 

IHRSA Institute Inspiration 

The club’s latest venture was realized after attending the Health Promotion & Community Service session at the 2014 IHRSA Institute. The session, co-taught by Amy Bantham of IHRSA and Sandy Franco of Franco’s Athletic Club in Mandeville, LA, explained the fitness industry’s efforts to emphasize the benefits associated with daily physical activity and work to reduce the inactivity crisis. 

During the session, Franco spoke specifically about her club’s involvement in the community and how giving back acts as an opportunity to build brand loyalty. In particular, she spoke to the development of all-inclusive programs tailored to fit individual needs, and she described how Franco’s used this model to help children and adults with disabilities maintain strength and good health despite adversity. 

When Hastay heard about this program, he was inspired and immediately envisioned implementing a similar program in Florida. 

Gainesville’s FIT for ALL Program 

Gainesville officially launched their FIT for ALL program in February 2015, and now, the program has gained traction, offering three program tracks per week which serve more than 50 special needs athletes. 

“We are always looking for ways to disrupt the segment of the market that has been ‘untapped.’ When I started this program for individuals with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities, I quickly saw that it was answering so many needs—such as the needs for inclusion and structured, individualized, training—while keeping the social component, and making exercise fun and rewarding,” says Hastay. 

Continue reading about Gainsville Health & Fitness' special needs programs.

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Best Practices: Strategic Planning for a Small, Independent Club

The following post was written by Joe Cirulli for our Best Practices series. 

Question: I’m currently developing a small independent club, and need to create and implement a strong strategic plan. Do you have any tips? 

Joe Cirulli: Strategizing, of course, is the first essential step when launching any company. You have to define the concept, choose the most appropriate business model, and decide how your club will differ from, and prevail over, the competition. 

The vision, mission, core value, core purpose, and culture of the organization have to be defined and clearly described. The company has to be structured and staffed to achieve your objectives. Everyone needs to understand and be aligned behind the club’s values and goals. 

One of the benefits of articulating a business’ core values is that it indicates the type of people who should be working for you. Changing a person’s core values is virtually impossible, so your entire hiring process should be designed to find individuals who share your company’s philosophy and principles. 

The right staff, in turn, will create the desired culture. 

Develop your team’s leadership skills, and always be on the lookout for new talent. 

Once your club is up and running, you need to differentiate it, distinguish it, from the competition. And what I’ve discovered is that execution is generally the defining hallmark of exceptional companies. 

Joe Cirulli
President & Owner
Gainesville Health & Fitness Centers
Gainesville, FL


Enhance Health Club Member Experience with Cloud-based Mobile Apps

Cloud computing technology can help health clubs save time and money, as well as increase data security, but the benefits don’t stop there. The use of cloud-based mobile apps help health clubs to enhance the member experience in a number of ways.

Much of the cloud’s present potential is being exploited by mobile apps, which access data from various cloud-based services. This avenue is one that introduces promising new opportunities for clubs and their members. Clubs may continue to rely on their websites, but, today, apps seem to be where the action is at.

Cloud-based Apps Support a Mobile-first Strategy

“It’s irrefutable that a ‘mobile-first’ strategy is emerging, which means that you may need to rethink some aspects of your business model,” said Bryan O’Rourke, the president of the Fitness Industry Technology Council (FIT-C), based in Covington, LA. “For example, you’ll have to figure out how to align the functionality of your mobile offerings with your programming, while making sure that both meet your members’ needs.” 

O’Rourke pointed to SoulCycle, LLC, based in New York City, as a brand with a well-honed mobile strategy. Its mobile app, accessed via the cloud, allows members to reserve specific bikes in specific cycling classes, access instructors’ playlists, and even purchase the same sort of apparel that their instructor is wearing. Apps can also make it easier to offer different pricing levels and to develop new revenue sources.

“It’s not about technology—it’s about the user experience,” O’Rourke said. “It’s about making things easier for your members; it’s about creating an affinity with your brand.”

Increased Convenience and Cost-savings

That sort of functionality, now fairly common in the case of chains and larger club companies, is quickly percolating down through the industry’s other strata.

The Gainesville Health & Fitness Centers (GHFC), a regional, three-facility operation in Gainesville, FL, is currently working with two cloud-based providers—MINDBODY, Inc., for its personal training and premier groups programs; and Mercury Systems, for its smoothie bar and other in-house retail sales—as well as a third one for its rehab center.

Once members have created their own MINDBODY account via a mobile app or a web browser, they’re able to review schedules and fees, make purchases, sign up for training sessions, and check to see how many they have left.

One extra benefit: “We’ve noticed that our costs have come down,” said Mike Kline, GHFC’s CFO and CIO. “Our credit card fees are a lot less than when we had to run cards through machines manually. We’re also able to track things much better.”

The cloud propagated by Mercury allows members to prepay their accounts online and, then, access their balance when they come into the gym—a convenience both for them and club management.

“We don’t have to have servers,” Kline said. “Mercury backs them up, and they worry about the data.”

Read the full article on cloud computing for health clubs in the May issue of CBI.


This Week in the Fitness Industry: Forbes Names 2 IHRSA Members 'Best Small Companies'

2 IHRSA Members Make Forbes ‘Best Small Companies’ List
IHRSA member Gainesville Health & Fitness and IHRSA associate member Big Ass Fans made Forbes' list of The Best Small Companies In America, 2016. “Ask those knowledgeable about the international fitness industry to name the best clubs on the planet and Gainesville Health & Fitness will be on the list,” Forbes said of the 480 employee company. “[Founder and CEO Joe] Cirulli travels the world giving talks, for example, on why his centers have customer-retention rates almost 30% higher than the industry average and how he hires and trains the staff that makes such performance possible.” The Lexington, KY-based Big Ass Fans “has expanded from the industrial sector into commercial and now residential markets, offering lighting products as well as smaller, sleeker home fans packed with high-tech sensors that sell for as much as $2,495,” the article said. “Today its residential products represent about 18% of company sales and growing.”

Video: Equinox CEO Talks Wearables on Bloomberg
Fitness wearables are complementary to health clubs and personal training, Harvey Spevak, CEO of Equinox, said in a Bloomberg interview. “This is a bricks-and-mortar business, this is an experiential business, so there’s no replacement for coming inside the club or coming inside the studio or coming inside the gym if you’re getting a good experience,” he said. “You can’t get into better shape or build a better self by doing it online at home—you need to be active, you need to be engaged, you need to be doing it.”

U.S. Consumers Willing to Spend Big on Fitness Memberships
American consumers are willing to spend a high percentage of their salary on fitness, according to the New York Post. While pricey boutique studios have driven up the median cost of annual dues, many gym-goers are happy to spend big for the health and wellness benefits that result from exercise. “As I'm looking for a job, spending this kind of money shocks me, but it keeps me sane," an unemployed Orangetheory user told The Post.

Experts Analyze Strengths and Weaknesses of Trendy Fitness Programs
The Washington Post asked three fitness experts to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of six trendy workout routines in an article published Tuesday. Anthony Wall, director of professional education for the American Council on Exercise, Linda Haupt, regional group fitness director for Gold’s Gym on the East Coast, and Carolyn Abramczyk, a long-time endurance athlete, weighed in on Barre, Insanity, CrossFit, indoor cycling, yoga, and Zumba. They offered their insights on the benefits of each program and what exercises users should add to supplement their workouts. “In the end, you want to mix it up for a host of reasons, including injury prevention, improved performance and motivation as well as better recovery, according to our experts,” The Post said. “Variety is the spice of your fitness life.”

Study: Financial Incentives Aren't Enough to Encourage Weight Loss
The promise of lower health insurance premiums is not enough to encourage workers to lose weight, according to a HealthAffairs study, CNN reports. The study found that obese workers who were offered $550 in health insurance savings for losing weight lost fewer than 1.5 pounds on average after one year—statistically no different than the average gain of one-tenth of a pound for workers who weren't offered a financial incentive to lose weight. "Our study highlights some of the weaknesses" of workplace wellness programs, Dr. Mitesh Patel, assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine and the study's lead author, told CNN.


Tips To Implement A Strategic Plan To Develop A Small, Independent Club

The following post was written by Jill Stevens Kinney and Joe Cirulli for our weekly Best Practices series.

Question: Can you offer some tips on how to create and implement a strategic plan to develop a small, independent club?

Answer:A good strategic plan begins with a thorough understanding of the marketplace, and leads to realistic expectations about the most critical aspect of your new business—the membership projections.

Start with a model that identifies the number of people (both residents and workforce) located within a 10-minute-drive radius of your club. Take into account only those individuals who meet your age, income, and educational criteria. Multiply this number by 17%–20% (the average percentage of the population that’s likely to join a health club). This will give you a good estimate of the number of people in your community who are reasonable candidates for a club membership.

Now, develop a complete list of all the potential competitors in the marketplace—including fitness facilities that may not exactly resemble your business model—and estimate their membership capacity, not their current membership level. Subtract your competitors’ capacity from the number of potential members you calculated for the market as a whole, and you’ll have a good sense of how many real prospects are available. This number should be two to four times higher than the number of members you’ll need in order to be financially successful.

In the process of developing this market analysis, you’ll gain insight not only into the number of members you’re likely to attract, but also into your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. This will help define the challenges that you may face in launching your new club. Good luck!

Jill Stevens Kinney
Clubsource Development Partners, LLC
San Rafel, California


 Answer: Start by asking yourself, “Why would someone be willing to spend their money on the services my club provides versus those of a competitor?” Then, make certain that everyone in your organization understands the edge that your club possesses, and is aligned behind it. That means your vision, mission, core values, core purpose, and the culture of your organization have to be clearly defined and well understood.

Next, design a company that’s easy for your customers to do business with. Execution is what usually separates exceptional companies from mediocre ones.

The best mechanism for ensuring flawless execution that I’ve discovered is a regular, two-hour meeting every Monday morning for all of the members of the management team. During that meeting, we evaluate how we’re doing in a number of areas. Everyone knows what their responsibilities are, and everyone knows they’ll be held accountable for them. And, once a month, we evaluate our progress at these meetings.

Then, once a year, we develop our strategic plan and budget.

Remember that your staff creates your culture. The benefit of embracing the core values of your organization is that it helps identify and clarify the type of people you should hire. Your entire hiring process should be designed to find individuals who have the same values as your company. Trying to change a person’s core values is virtually impossible.

Finally, develop your team’s leadership skills, and always be on the lookout for fresh new talent.

Joe Cirulli
President, Owner & CEO
Gainesville Health & Fitness Center
Gainesville, Florida


Best Practices features answers from experts from both inside and outside the health club industry to thought-provoking questions on a wide range of topics. If you have a question you'd like answered, submit your question today



Joe Cirulli is determined to cultivate a sense of “home” at his three fitness facilities in Gainesville, Florida.

Reflecting on why that might be, he recalls how, when he was 21 and planning a facility of his own, he decided that he wanted it to emulate the atmosphere of an upscale, but affordable, country club –warm, inviting, a place where staff and members entered into enjoyable, rewarding relationships.

Today, his vision has become reality in the form of the Gainesville Health and Fitness Centers (GHFC), which, founded in 1978, now consists of three high-end, and multipurpose properties, totaling 120,000 square feet: the main 90,000-square-foot club, a satellite location, and a women-only facility.

Many club operators understand the importance of making prospects and members feel welcome and comfortable, and make every effort to do so. Their instincts and initiatives are supported by IHRSA research: according to The IHRSA Trend Report, two of the primary reasons that people join and make use of clubs are for “the social aspects” and because “my family and friends work out” at one.

“Joe has always said that he wants his club to have the relaxed. Front-porch feel of a home in the 1950s and ‘60s,” says Debbie Lee, the company’s marketing director. “It’s his vision of what he wants the business to be; it’s woven into our beginnings, our culture.”

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