The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association is the fitness industry's only global trade association representing over 10,000 for profit health and fitness facilities and over 600 supplier companies in 75 countries.



From educational tools and events to promotional programs and public policy initiatives, IHRSA brings you success... by association!

Join | Renew
Pledge Your Support

Search IHRSA Blog

Welcome to the IHRSA Blog

The Online Home of news.

Blog Home |  Subscribe to our RSS Feed

Entries in Peter Lopez (1)


Small Touches Add Up: Making Your Club a Pleasure Oasis

By Patricia Amend

In this digital age, every step, heartbeat, and calorie can be monitored and counted. Such data is invaluable when it comes to producing weight loss and other results that members want.

But is there a hidden drawback?

Have we forgotten that we should be creating positive, stimulating, pleasurable club environments to help people feel healthy, alive, optimistic, and in touch with all of their senses—so they can’t wait to return for their next workout?

In their book, Healthy Pleasures, authors Robert Ornstein, Ph.D., and David Sobel, M.D., remind us that health and good feelings coincide: “There is a pleasure machine within our head, in which several brain centers respond to gratifying stimulation. All this didn’t happen by accident; the human desire for enjoyment evolved to enhance our survival. What better way to ensure that healthy, life-saving behaviors occur than to make them pleasurable?”

D.J. Bosse, owner of the 160,000-square-foot multipurpose Bosse Sports Club in Sudbury, Massachusetts, understands this and, as a result, has been sprinkling his club, which includes a spa and salon, with a variety of simple, lower-cost “spa touches,” to make his members feel good.

For example, the member experience at Bosse starts with the waterfall that has been placed to the right of the concierge desk for members to see as they walk in. Music playing throughout the club is soft and classical. “I think the running water and the music relax people,” Bosse explains. Also, Bosse Sports’ spa staff offer members five-to-10-minute neck-and-shoulder massages using a massage chair after vigorous classes. “Doing so helps people realize how good they feel,” says Peter Lopez, lead massage therapist. “It also gives us a chance to offer other services—such a blow-dry in the salon. We want people to feel that we are catering to them.”          

Bosse also encourages as much member-staff interaction as possible, while at the same time minimizing the role of technology.

“In this day and age,” he opines, “we are so technologically driven that you can walk into many clubs and not talk to a single person. Yet, most of us are energized more by other people and less by technology.”

But not at Bosse Sports Club: At the concierge desk, member check-in is done manually, rather than by computer. Personal training scheduling is done by hand, as well.

“This gives my staff a chance to greet every adult and child by name,” says Bosse Sports general manager Marco Cosentino. “We always ask members how their day is going, if they’re comfortable with their schedule, and if there’s anything we can do to make their visit easier. The overall message for my staff is to be user-friendly so people will respond.”           

“The interpersonal connection is important to me,” says Michelle Day, who has been a Bosse Sports member for two years, along with her husband, Brian, and two children, Courtney, 10, and Tyler, 7.

“At Bosse, you get to know the staff and the people you work out with. It’s like being at a small school. Everyone says, ‘Hi, Michelle!’ ”

Bosse Sports also deemphasizes the use of electronics in the fitness area. “To minimize noise, the TVs are never blaring, and we tune into cooking shows during the day,” Bosse points out. “We also limit the amount of television the kids watch in our Kid’s Club while their parents work out. Instead, we focus on their mental and physical development by doing art projects and playing games. Parents can relax, knowing that their kids are being stimulated.”

Bosse has also added other “spa touches” around the club, while making sure that the locker rooms are exceptionally clean and fresh-smelling.

“I have a florist deliver fresh flowers once a month to the concierge desk, in the food area, in the spa and salon, and in the women’s locker room,” he says. “In addition, we inject a eucalyptus scent into the men’s and women’s steam rooms. Our food area offers healthy drinks, natural snacks, and salads made with fresh, organic ingredients.”

Such efforts have safeguarded Bosse’s retention and revenue performance in these difficult times. Even though an all-inclusive Bosse Sports family membership requires a steep $8,000 enrollment fee, and $584 per month in dues, the club boasts an attrition rate of just 5%. In addition, the club’s approach has produced steady increases in nondues revenue.

“Instead of staying away from the club in this troubled economy, our members have come here to relax,” Bosse asserts. “We’ve become their ‘stay-cation’ destination.”

Bosse has also rethought the club’s class schedule to make sure it benefits participants the most. “Vigorous classes, such as cardio boxing and spinning, are followed by a warm yoga class or stretching. We also make sure that the last classes in the evening are relaxing.”

He adds, “We want workouts at Bosse Sports to be comfortable, nonintrusive experiences—a break away from hectic lives. If they are, members will want to do more.”           

Day agrees. “I do a vigorous workout with a trainer almost every day. I want to work hard and then be relaxed. If the gym weren’t so beautiful, I wouldn’t want to work out as much as I do. It’s like a five-star hotel. I really do love it here.”

Does your gym have special touches that enhance the member experience? If so, tell us about it and share your thoughts in the “Comments” box.

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