4 Ways Health Clubs Benefit from Offering Community Programs

Many clubs that offer community programs aren't in it for the business benefits. But giving back often has its perks.

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?

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Community programs create a way to engage all people 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.

3. Gives Staff a Sense of Purpose

Participants are not the only ones who benefit from involvement in community programs. Often times, if employees can routinely see they are making a difference in the lives of others, they will feel more fulfilled by the daily work they perform.

“These programs provide an incredible benefit to our employees. They enhance their work experience and their daily jobs take on a new meaning,” says Sandy Franco, co-owner of Franco’s Athletic Club.

4. Keeps Members Coming Back for More

An increase in member retention can sometimes be seen as a result of engaging community members in these programs.

Because of these offerings, community members are able to address their specific problems, while building lasting friendships with those who share similar interests or are looking to achieve the same goals. This targeted program strategy, when combined with peer motivation and encouragement, keeps participants focused on meeting and exceeding wellness objectives.

“We offer programs for those afflicted by paralysis, cancer, and other chronic conditions. Making programming all inclusive has unintentionally proven to be a direct link to member retention. It was absolutely never about the money to begin with, but this model has proven to be very successful for us,” says Mike Alpert, CEO of the Claremont Club.

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Shannon Vogler @vogler_shannon

Shannon Vogler is the Communications and Public Relations Coordinator for IHRSA. Shannon writes articles, press releases, and the IHRSA Advocate newsletter to make IHRSA members aware of policy issues that impact health clubs. She also speaks with media influencers about the benefits of working out and joining a gym. When she's not writing, Shannon enjoys running and cheering for the New England Patriots.