Boost Your Health Club Brand with a ‘Green Zone’

Creating an eco-friendly section in your gym can have a huge impact.

No matter how strong your brand is, your health club can always use a jolt of excitement. Keeping members engaged and stimulated, while preventing them from straying to the “sexy” competition, is an ongoing battle. And now you have to compete with home-based “connected” workout experiences from well-funded companies who are aggressively saturating media outlets with marketing pitches.

It’s hard to be the cool kid on the block these days. You aren’t just competing against other industry players, you’re struggling to keep up with rapidly changing consumer habits. To keep members happy and attract new prospects, you have to deliver diverse experiences to hold their attention.

That’s easier said than done. You can’t switch out equipment and change your club’s strategic plan every time a new trend takes hold. You need to be a change agent, but you need to do it at your own pace and within your budget.

Call it a “limited renovation.” Just as clubs are clearing space to install a boutique experience to complement their existing cardio and weight rooms, many club operators are experimenting with novel concepts on a small scale. It’s less expensive than a major redesign, and requires a modest investment in new equipment. You also get to test concepts before you invest more capital into them.

This is the idea behind a “green zone.” Creating a green zone means setting aside a portion of your floor for eco-friendly equipment that’s engineered to be powered by human activity. Done right, it can lead to a smaller carbon footprint and a better bottom line.

What a Green Zone Can Do for You

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Here are some of the advantages of opening up a green zone in your club.

  • It’s a low-risk initiative at a limited cost. As stated earlier, you’re not overhauling your inventory and gutting your interior infrastructure. You’re simply switching out a part of your floor equipment for sustainable units. While you can also add design flourishes to the area, it’s not essential. A green zone is doable for almost any budget, especially if you’re due to buy new equipment anyway.
  • It’s great for brand promotion on social media. A green zone gives you a buzzworthy story to promote to members and prospects. Your marketing department and in-club sales staff will be thrilled to have something new and exciting to talk about.
  • Millennials and Generation Zers care deeply about environmental issues. According to surveys, 75% of Millennials are concerned about climate change. Generation Z, those born between 1995-2015, are even more bullish on green businesses. It should be noted that Gen Z is poised to become the largest consumer market by 2020. Being an eco-friendly brand gives you an advantage with this crucial demographic.
  • You’ll get social responsibility cred. Even though you’re just opening up a limited green space, you’ll be sending a signal to consumers that you care about reducing your carbon footprint. That’s a popular position these days. Statistics show that 86% of consumers expect companies to take action on environmental issues, and in our current divided politics, green energy is that rare issue that enjoys support from both political parties, according to data recently published in The New York Times.
  • You’ll save money on energy bills. Even a limited green zone will have a beneficial effect on energy costs. This is meaningful to any business, but especially health clubs. As a recent IHRSA article suggested, the summer months are getting hotter, and your energy costs are going to go up.
  • You’re creating an “experience” not just a workout. Consumers are increasingly choosing to spend money on experiences over goods. By offering a green zone, with innovative sustainable equipment, you’re delivering a unique workout that’s unlike a typical training session.
  • You may be eligible for government incentives. Local and federal regulatory agencies offer tax incentives and other benefits to businesses that increase energy efficiency. Research your area and see what’s available. There’s a government “Going Green” website that can get you started.

“By offering a green zone, with innovative sustainable equipment, you’re delivering a unique workout that’s unlike a typical training session.”

Of course, your green zone won’t work if the sustainable equipment isn’t up to speed—literally and figuratively. You need high-end green machines with all the bells and whistles your members expect from today’s high-quality equipment. Otherwise, your green zone will be a no-go zone. To make your eco-friendly concept work, you need the right partner.

Getting Started on Building a Green Brand

Leading the push for sustainable health clubs is SportsArt. With the development of their ECO-POWR equipment line, SportsArt has revolutionized the industry’s approach to energy efficiency and green business practices. Their innovative “watts-to-grid” technology actually creates energy through human activity via exercise.

What ultimately wins health club members to the SportsArt concept is that they can have their green workout experience while sacrificing none of the high-tech features of elite power-guzzling units. Leading the ECO-POWR line are:

  • The Verde: The world’s first energy producing treadmill that not only allows members to walk, jog, and run, but also gives them the option to perform sled-pushing workouts for high-intensity training. The Verde can generate up to 200 watts-hour of energy during operation.
  • The Verso: A three-in-one cross-trainer offering elliptical, stepper, and cycle functionality, the Verso has the same energy-generating features of the Verde, along with intuitive controls and an LCD screen.
  • Upright Bike, Recumbent Bike, and Elliptical machines complete the Eco-Powr Line

SportsArt offers a full array of other equipment that, while not ECO-POWR, still uses 30% less energy than other competitive models. All of SportsArt’s equipment offers a premium workout experience, but with a dramatically smaller carbon footprint.

One club, among over 20 installations in the U.S., that found success using the green zone concept using SportsArt equipment is The Source health club in Missoula, MT.

“As soon as we launched the green area, along with making some internal changes, we noticed members that value eco-friendly came out of the woodwork,” says Dallas Neil, owner of The Source. “We have found that people have joined our club just for the fact that we are making an effort to go green.”

If you’re new to the sustainable health club concept, SportsArt can help you decide how to begin putting together your green zone. Simply use their “Ultimate Sustainable Gym Checklist” to get started. They’ll help you do the rest.

To learn more about how SportsArt can help you get started on creating a green zone in your club, visit their website or call 1-800-709-1400.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org