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Do members saddle up to juice and smoothie bars?

Casey Conrad and Matt Hunt have a sweet question to answer in this week's Ask an Industry Leader: what are the costs for a juice/smoothie bar, how much profit should you make and what are the top items?

Q. “How much do club members spend on items at the smoothie/juice bar?  What percentage of a club’s annual revenue can we expect to come in from a non-dues profit center like this?  What are some of the top-selling items to have on the menu?” 

A: What is your “motive” for adding a smoothie/juice bar? 

If it’s strictly for revenue gain (following the logic of industry profit center approach speak) ... think again.  Anyone can create a profit center strictly for the purpose of increasing revenue. That’s easy. The real “meat” is to focus solely on what you’re great at, what really drives in revenue, then improve on that specific approach. 

“The risk of insult, is worth the price of clarity”! 

Remember that phrase, as you will hear it often from us for evaluating everything we do for the customer.  Case in point:

  • If you are trying to offer healthy, nutritious meal replacements through smoothies, then you are doing a disservice to your clients. Smoothies, regardless of their composition are laden with sugar.  Carbohydrates are sugars. And they are “ranked” in there natural state on category levels of 1-10.  One being readily available sugars that are less desirable sugars (fruits like banana’s, grapes) and Ten being slowly delivered sugars that are most desirable (like broccoli , cauliflower, etc.)

You might as well serve snickers bars if your blending fruits for smoothies. When you blend fruits you are breaking down the sugars into the fastest possible delivery source creating insulenemia which is a rapid release of sugars into the bloodstream and the leading precursor for onset diabetes. On the opposite end of the spectrum, no client will purchase a blended mess of cruciferous veggies from you as the taste will send them running. 

If you really have the clients interest at heart, stop and think about what will differntiate you from the average industry competitor whom offers smoothies. After all, this is about your clients correct? Maybe you might want to inform them of the dangers of these so called shortcuts to health, and educate them on the importance of balance in the diet for 5-regulated daily healthy meals of foods that include Meats-Veggies-Oil/Nuts. And by doing this you will break the unconventional mode for how you operate your center. Let your competition flounder by following ... you’re the leader! 

Be creative!  Why not create an informative interactive nutrition kiosk whereby clients can sign up to create their own meals and be held accountable for eating right.   

But always check your motive ...

Matt Hunt,
Hard Exercise Works




Casey Conrad
Communication Consultants

Editor’s Note: One of the most frequently consulted sections of IHRSA’s Website,, is “Ask an Industry Leader,” which features answers from industry experts to a wide range of thought-provoking questions. Beginning this month, we’ll highlight some of them in this new CBI column.

Visit to read responses to more than 100 questions such as these or to submit a question of your own to be answered.

Reader Comments (2)

I couldn't disagree more with the statements made by Casey or Matt. Seeing Casey's articles before in this publication, I know that she has been one dimensional on the topic for more than a decade. Perhaps she or Matt have never seen a juice bar done right.

The proof is in the pudding. Performance Food Centers has been bringing whole foods and nutritional education to health clubs for 13 years. We now enjoy relationships with just about 1500 successful customers. We still have our first customer.

We measure success by profit and by members reaching their performance and or wellness goals. The latter drives the former.

As for insulin instability; post workout is the only time of day that one should consume a high glycemic meal or drink and i guarantee you, our customers come running to not away from the juice bar for one of our low glycemic meal replacement shakes with or without cruciferous veggies!
September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDan Young
Matt, I assume you are the one answering the questions in the printed post, since Casey's video seemed more balanced. I can see that your answer has some shock value and is meant to surprise people, and here are the two statements that I have issue with:

1. If you are trying to offer healthy, nutritious meal replacements through smoothies, then you are doing a disservice to your clients.
2. You might as well serve snickers bars if your blending fruits for smoothies.

These are both generally false statements, and could only be true in limited cases. So I think they take away from your point of not offering smoothies.

Of course smoothies with very little fruit and lots of added refined sugar, or ice cream, sweetened yogurt, etc. could be detrimental from a nutrition point of view and spike in insulin needs and thus blood glucose levels. But if they are made with whole fruits and no added sweeteners, they provide natural nutrient-dense carbohydrates, including fiber which dampens the blood glucose rise. Are you proposing that we eat only meat, veggies and nuts? Your body, and especially muscles, run on carbohydrates, and if the source of these is natural, nutrient-dense fruits, what better foods to eat for fitness buffs. High protein drinks? We know those are converted to carbs if not needed (most people eat way too much protein compared to needs) and put a load on the kidneys in the process.

Your second point could be true if the smoothies are pure sugar and fat. But this is not the case if you are making healthy smoothies with lots of whole fruits and/or veggies (and you CAN make them with veggies and make them taste good).

So don't throw the baby out with the bath water! We NEED carbs for energy to run our bodies, especially during exercise. What better way (other than eating whole fruits and vegetables which is great if you can get people to do it) than to drink a super nutrient-dense drink? Much better than 99% of everything else people are drinking these days. And most people want to drink something other than water occasionally.
September 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDr. Roy Vartabedian

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