16 Best Practices for Providing Food & Beverage Service at Your Gym

Food and beverage service can be an important profit center for your health club, gym, or studio as well as a way to extend the member experience at your facility. Be sure to follow these best practices!

  • May 06, 2022

Chris Murphy, former director of sales at Performance Food Centers, contributed to this article.

Food and beverage service can be an important source of revenue for health clubs, gyms, and studios. In fact, it was the fourth-ranked profit center for multi-purpose health clubs and the third-ranked profit center for fitness-only clubs in IHRSA’s 2019 Profiles of Success. It brought in a median of 3.1% of total revenue for multi-purpose facilities and 3% of total revenue at fitness-only facilities.

Offering made-to-order smoothies, ready-to-drink shakes, and pre-packaged or fresh salads and wraps can be a great way to help your members and customers meet their wellness and nutritional goals post-workout and beyond. If your facility has a larger footprint, a restaurant, cafe, and/or beverage bar can provide even more opportunities to extend the member experience at your facility.

Regardless of if you have offered food and beverages at your facility for years or are just now exploring the idea of selling food or drinks, you’ll want to be sure to follow these best practice guidelines to ensure your operations are being run as successfully as possible.

This article is one in a series of 28 Best Practice Guidelines for Operating a Fitness Facility.

When it comes to your fitness facility’s food and beverage strategy, success comes down to four categories:

  1. Ensure Your Menu Supports Your Members’ Wellness Goals

  2. Follow All Applicable Food Service Laws

  3. Make Sure Food & Beverage Offerings Are Visible & Top-of-mind

  4. Pay Attention to Your Food & Beverage Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

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Ensure Your Menu Supports Your Members’ Wellness Goals

1. Offer products that will support your customers’ wellness goals. Consider offering foods or menu items with clean, whole-food-based ingredients.

2. Educate your customers on why you offer the products you offer. Consider providing your customers with options for pre-workout fuel and post-workout recovery.

3. Include options for children where applicable. Come up with fun names for your offerings to appeal to the younger demographic. Have coloring pages or an additional menu available specifically for children.

4. Think about offering pre-paid shake/smoothie plans at a discounted purchase price to get your customers in the habit of post-workout recovery.

5. Consider offering retail supplements and snacks in a way that is easily accessible to customers.

Follow All Applicable Food Service Laws

6. Work with your local health department, department of agriculture, or other local authorities during your initial design and construction to ensure code compliance, safety, and efficiency in your facility.

7. Where required, ensure all employees maintain an active, nationally-recognized food handling certification and complete continuing education requirements.

Make Sure Food & Beverage Offerings Are Visible & Top-of-mind

8. When possible, combine your café or shake/smoothie bar area with the check-in area to utilize existing employees as well as guarantee your offerings are in a high-traffic area.

9. If you have a full restaurant or kitchen, offer grab-and-go items clearly displayed at the front of your food and beverage space. Offer to-go menu items along with instructions on how to place orders remotely or online.

10. Review and update your marketing signage, menu offerings, and the menu design and look at least once per year to keep things fresh.

11. Post menus and educational information throughout the facility, especially in high-traffic areas, in order to create awareness.

12. Hold in-house samplings to promote food and beverage products.

Pay Attention to Your Food & Beverage Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

  1. Understand your cost of goods as well as your inventory and par levels. Designate a clean and organized storage area for ease of tracking. Consider a quality point-of-sale machine to ensure trackability of sales.

  2. Evaluate your return on investment (ROI) and sell prices at least once per year.

This article is part of the Top 5 Profit Centers at Multipurpose Health Clubs series, where we’ll cover topics like Nutritional Counseling, Facility Layout & Design, and more in upcoming articles.

Additional Food & Beverage Resources

IHRSA 2019 Profiles of Success: (Member discount; Free to Premium Members!) This report provides benchmarks, operational, and financial data from leading fitness companies. It includes information on revenue, membership growth and retention, and profit centers such as food and beverage facilities.

Top 5 Profit Centers at Multipurpose Health Clubs: This article summarizes profit center data from IHRSA’s annual Industry Data Survey including information on revenue from Food and Beverage operations at multipurpose health clubs and fitness facilities.

Top 5 Profit Centers at Fitness-only Health Clubs: This article summarizes profit center data from IHRSA’s annual Industry Data Survey including information on revenue at fitness-only health clubs from food and beverage operations.

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IHRSA Staff @IHRSA

This article was a team effort by several IHRSA experts.