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Entries in West Wood Clubs (12)


3 Marketing Secrets That Helped West Wood Clubs Survive Ireland’s Recession 

Can you name every single element of your health club business that falls under the umbrella of marketing? The answer may be longer than you’d think. 

“Marketing is everything you do that influences someone's decision whether to buy or not to buy from you,” said Alan Leach, regional manager of West Wood Clubs in Ireland, during his 2016 IHRSA Institute session. “It’s everything we do that influences someone's decision whether to continue to buy from us or not continue to buy from us.” 

During his Wednesday, August 3 session, Leach outlined the sales and marketing strategies that allowed West Wood Club to thrive during Ireland’s economic recession, which caused many health clubs to declare bankruptcy. 

The following are Leach’s top three marketing secrets: 

1. The Price is Rarely the Issue in Most Buying Decisions 

Leach cited a study done for Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It) by William Poundstone. For the study, researchers interviewed people who bought a slew of products—cars, gym memberships, etc.—and asked them how important price was in the buying decision. 

For those who bought the product they were considering, 14% said price was the most important factor. But when researchers asked the salespeople how important they thought price was in the buyer’s decision making, 84% said it was the most important factor. 

“In a lot of cases, the price is a far bigger issue for the people selling [the membership] than the people buying it,” Leach said. 

Knowing this, West Wood Clubs continued to charge a joining fee during the recession, while other clubs that eliminated their joining fees struggled. 

2. Winning the Battle for Sales Leadership Will Clinch the Victory for Decades 

“When it comes to sales, the golden rule is that ‘winning the battle for sales leadership in a single year will often clinch victory for decades to come,’” Leach said, quoting Jack Trout’s book Jack Trout's book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. “When you have sales, you can fix anything.” 

3. Only Spend on Marketing if it Generates a Profit 

West Wood Clubs only spends on marketing if it has delivered a proven return-on-investment, Leach said. As a result, they only spend $35 on marketing and sales per new member.

Read more coverage from the 2016 IHRSA Institute.


Implement a Professional Sales System to Grow Health Club Memberships

Through its digital marketing strategies, West Wood Club’s website generates 990 leads a month—but those leads are worth nothing if they’re not converted into memberships. 

And the best way to turn leads into members? Implementing a professional sales system. 

“The best investment you’ll ever make in a fitness club is to invest in a professional sales system,” Alan Leach, regional manager of the Dublin, Ireland club. “If you’re having difficulty growing memberships, find a professional sales trainer or have someone on your staff who can go through that training […] It will be invaluable to you.” 

Leach took IHRSA Institute attendees through his club’s proven strategies during his Thursday, August 4 session, “Sales Management.” To start, he outlined the top three sales tasks:  

  1. Generate leads for your fitness business
  2. Convert leads into tours of your fitness business
  3. Convert tours into members of your fitness business  

West Wood Clubs uses integrated marketing strategies to generate leads, from search engine marketing to direct mail campaigns. And once the leads are recorded in their database, it’s up to the highly trained sales team to guide the leads through the buyer’s journey. 

Each West Wood Club sales team member goes through a rigorous training process:  

  • Full day: How to sell 70% of all tours
  • Full day: How to convert 70% of enquiries to tours
  • Three full days: Sales role play
  • Full day: How to do sales prospecting 

As a result of their marketing strategies and finely tuned sales process, West Wood Club’s website nets 56,000 visits a month, which the sales team generated into 3,992 memberships in 2015, resulting in $8.4 million.


Create a Five-Star Locker Room Experience with These 4 Tips

Locker rooms are one of the most relaxing and rewarding areas of your club. At the same time, they’re a labor-intensive challenge for you and your staff—and that’s putting it mildly. Once simple, utilitarian changing rooms, they’ve evolved into a defining part of most clubs, the room that members tend to visit first ... and last ... and, often, in between.

Village Health Club, Ocotillo, Chandler, AZ

“Our research indicates that members want their locker room to be a place where they can escape and relax for 30 minutes,” said Alan Leach, the area general manager and head of sales and marketing for the West Wood Clubs, a group of three premium facilities in Dublin, Ireland. “It should be an experience—like staying at a Ritz-Carlton. Our members expect these spaces to be something special.”

Creating a five-star locker room involves much more than keeping the floors clean or stocking enough towels; these mundane housekeeping tasks must, of course, be performed diligently, over and over again. But a closer look reveals that a number of other factors play a seminal role. Among them: a club mission and culture that emphasize consistent attention, a sophisticated tracking system, solid communication among staff, accurate measurement of results, and employee accountability.

1. Train All Staff to Take Pride in Locker Room Upkeep

As in any service organization, clubs must commit to, emphasize, and own the pursuit of customer satisfaction—starting at the top. Because locker rooms are an integral part of a member’s interaction with the club, the entire staff—not just the housekeeping and maintenance teams—must recognize that their upkeep and operation are ongoing group responsibilities.

“When hiring staff, we clearly communicate the importance of maintaining a clean, organized, and well-stocked locker room,” said Ken Brendel, a regional general manager for Active Wellness, LLC, based in Sausalito, CA. In all, the company oversees some 120 locker rooms at the 60 corporate and community fitness facilities it manages. “Every manager and team member is expected to maintain these areas by doing such things as closing locker doors, picking up dirty towels, and wiping down countertops, as part of their everyday duties.”

Active Sports Club, Petaluma, CA

2. Diligently Track and Communicate Tasks, Issues

Due to the need for repetitive tasks, along with regular attention, savvy clubs use a variety of paper and/or software systems—e.g., daily checklists, service logs, and preventative-maintenance databases—to stay on top of things. The West Wood Clubs, which serve a total of approximately 22,500 members, utilize the Club Vitals software program, for instance, which allows staff to take note of issues, track responses, and document solutions.

“After logging a problem, the maintenance team is immediately alerted, on walkie-talkies, about the need to inspect the situation,” Leach said. “If it’s something that can be fixed—it takes precedence over everything else.”

At Ocotillo Village, a Village Health Clubs & Spas facility, weekly inspections are conducted of spa heaters, steam generators, chemical feeders, and laundry equipment to identify deterioration, gauge life expectancy, and plan for timely replacements. Quarterly preventative-maintenance service is conducted on larger equipment.

Continue reading "Create a Five-Star Locker Room Experience with These 4 Tips."

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IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: Precision Marketing: Proven & Profitable Advertising Strategies

The terms “advertising” and “marketing” are often used synonymously, but they are markedly different—and if you don’t have a grasp on the two concepts, your promotional strategies might suffer. 

“Marketing is everything we do to influence a member’s decision to continue to buy or not to continue to buy from us (yes—retention is marketing),” says Alan Leach, regional manager of West Wood Clubs in Dublin, Ireland, and Sarajevo, Bosnia. “The type of group fitness classes you chose to provide, the staff you chose to hire, the staff training you provide, the design of your club, the prices you charge, the location of your club, the programs you offer, the retention strategies you provide, the size of your car-park—these are all part of your product and are all part of an effective marketing strategy. If all these marketing elements are wrong, no amount of advertising or sales promotions will save you.” 

Leach will help health club operators fine-tune their marketing efforts in his IHRSA 2016 session, “Precision Marketing: Proven & Profitable Advertising Strategies.” The Wednesday, March 23 session will help attendees: 

  • Discover the most effective advertising and marketing strategies for fitness business
  • Learn how to use the internet to advertise, promote, and grow your fitness business
  • Discover the secrets to writing high-impact and persuasive sales and marketing copy that will drive new leads into your fitness business
  • Find out how to brand, promote, and market your fitness business so budget clubs are never a threat
  • Discover lead generation advertising and marketing secrets that will pack your fitness business with more and more sales and leads 

Throughout his presentation, Leach will draw from the many successful strategies he’s employed at West Wood Clubs, including a proven “selling fitness” sales and marketing system that increased sales by 70%, 15 direct mail letters that generated over $20 million in revenue, database management that generates millions of dollars every year, internet advertising and marketing that brings in over $7 million a year, and more. 

“Profitable marketing is just as much about thinking strategically about your advertising as it is about your short-term marketing and advertising goals,” he says. “Powerful marketing concepts, such as how your club is positioned in the market, how you differentiate your club from your competitors, and how you hope to create a sustainable competitive advantage in the fitness club market, are extremely important marketing activities—far more important than the special offer you run next Tuesday. In fact, these strategic marketing decisions are probably more important than ever before, because if you can get these marketing strategies right from the start, you depend less on those special offers and discounts for your fitness club’s success.”

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West Wood Clubs Host Variety of Holiday Events

West Wood // Christmas 2014 from Bold Move on Vimeo.

West Wood Club in Dublin, Ireland, put on many events during the holiday season. Some were charity events, others for the community and, most likely, some with membership numbers considered.

And to possibly increase numbers next year, the compiled a high-quality video to showcase the many smiling faces and happy members.

This is a great example how being diverse and creative can help with many different day-to-day metrics like retention, attrition and membership sales.




To Towel or Not to Towel, That is the Question

Towels at the front desk at NB Fitness Club.There are some areas in a health club that you either have to go all in or just not offer it at all.

These offerings – whether they are free amenities or at a cost to members – can be costly to the club, with the return on investment sometimes not where you want it to be, or in some cases incalculable.

One of those areas is complimentary towels. They can be expensive – one club IHRSA talked to can order up to 1,000 new ones a month – but it might be what sets a club apart from the competition across the street.

But, unless you take a survey of your members you really don’t know if not having to bring a towel from home would make or break one’s decision to stay. And only the certainty of those who sign a contract, or pay every month, are doing so because of the amenities offered could a ROI then be calculated.

Read the entire story, with examples and suggestions from Alan Leach, Jason Mason and Wayne Morris.

Click to read more ...


West Wood Clubs fight slow economy with Les Mills

A Les Mills class at West Wood Club.West Wood Clubs, in Dublin, give Les Mills programs a lot of credit for the facilities thriving during a slow economy.

Its Clontarf Road location has seen a 55% increase in group exercise class attendance and 1 in every 3 visits will attend a Les Mills Class.

"During the recent economic downturn in Ireland when many clubs were losing members at a staggering rate, Clontarf bucked the trend and improved its attrition," said Alan Leach, general manager. "I believe the huge improvements in club usage, group X attendance, and retention is 100% down to the amazing product that Les Mills provides.”

Visit for more on the clubs.


West Wood Clubs share video bloopers

This may come as a shock to many, but trainers and gym managers are not actors. Let that sink in for a bit.

Honestly, just like those paid millions of dollars to be in front of a camera, those in the industry who make videos for their webstie or to post on social media need many takes due to slip-ups, faulty equipment, etc.

West Wood Clubs in Ireland decided to poke fun at themselves when it made a blooper reel of its funny outtakes. 


West Wood Clubs bring its healthy outlook to Dublin school

West Wood Club in Ireland got to take on a different set of clients recently, and they were very happy to do so.

The Clontarf, Ireland, location visited the Belgrove Boys School in Dublin for its Healthy Living Week where they worked with students on nutrition, fitness and health. They talked about nutritional value of foods and how important it is to their body, even showing them how to make their own energy drinks. They also played sports like rugby, soccer, American football, and did circuit training type of exercises.

"We want to instill in these guys the knowledge and confidence to feel good about themselves, be confident about themselves, and just live healthy, healthy lives," said trainer Luke Heapes.

The staff at the school also saw the significance of the visit.

"From a teacher's point of view I think it is extremely important for the kids. They have so many things in their lives - XBox, PlayStation, iPads ... it doesn't lend to a healthy lifestyle," said Niall Ring, a teacher at the school.



IHRSA Webinar: Alan Leach on Internet Marketing

Alan Leach during IHRSA/Fitness Brasil Latin American Conference & Trade Show.You can’t argue with the numbers West Wood Clubs in Ireland boasts.

The three-club group saw 54,000 website visits per month in 2013 on its website. From that West Wood receives 960 leads – with name, e-mail and cell phone – which turns into 263 new memberships. The 3,000-plus memberships per year equates to $7.6 million.

Alan Leach is the regional manager at West Wood and his marketing and sales experience is one of the reasons for the clubs’ success. He will lead the next IHRSA Webinar, sponsored by Cybex. “Tools and Strategies to Successful & Profitable Internet Marketing" is Thursday, May 8, 2 to 3 p.m. EST. 

Continue reading to see what Leach will discuss during the webinar.