Club Fit Uses Storytelling to Engage Cancer Survivors and First Responders
Clubs Fit proves that gyms provide the perfect place for people to gather and share their stories about their fitness journeys.
Storytelling has always had the power to personally connect people through shared experiences.
And, fortuitously, clubs provide the perfect place for people to gather and share their stories—about where they are in their fitness journey and where they hope this journey will lead them.
Club Fit, with two locations in Briarcliff and Jefferson Valley, NY, harnessed the power of storytelling to encourage community members to acknowledge why it is important to keep active and how they can use this positive mentality to achieve their fitness goals.
“We’re here and have a presence in the community and so people want to bring us their stories,” says Ellen Koelsch, vice president of Club Fit. “When people tell us their stories and offer unique programming ideas, we respond by saying ‘That would be great. Would you like to do this with us?’”
Fighting Cancer with Fitness
Cancer is a disease that directly or indirectly impacts all of us.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that by the end of 2016, cancer will have taken the lives of 595,690 U.S. citizens. And, over the course of the next two decades, the number of new cancer cases worldwide is expected to hit a staggering 22 million.
Taking note of the need to address rising cancer incidence and mortality rates, Club Fit decided to start a program that would help cancer patients regain their strength and conviction. And, the decision to start this program was officially solidified after attending the IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show and hearing Julie Main speak about her personal battle with cancer and the importance of overcoming the disease’s limitations with physical activity.
A “Think Fit for Kids” fundraising event to raise money for brain tumor resarch.
Since that time, Club Fit’s cancer wellness program has employed strength training, cardio, and yoga techniques to help participants feel healthier and more confident. The program is conducted by certified instructors who create personalized fitness routines for participants of all ages and abilities. The program is free for all members and non-members are invited to participate in a 90-day free trial.
Over the years, the program has seen continued success thanks to its strong partnerships with local doctors and hospitals who refer patients to the club.
“Participants must have medical clearances from their doctors to be involved,” says Koelsch, “and they are required to meet with trainers ahead of time so that they know exactly what to expect at the start of the program.”
“We’re here and have a presence in the community and so people want to bring us their stories. When people tell us their stories and offer unique programming ideas, we respond by saying ‘That would be great. Would you like to do this with us?'”
Ellen Koelsch, Vice President
Thanking Others Who Serve the Community
Club Fit’s approach is not only to support those who need their products and services the most, but also to thank people who do important work to aid in their mission.
Recently, the club joined forces with a local cardiologist to hold an educational session for policemen and women, firefighters, and EMS professionals to demonstrate how exercise can help to alleviate some of the stress they experience while on the job. The session was well-received and the club decided to expand on this information by helping these community members put that knowledge into practice.
Presenting a check to the local police/fire department with the most check-ins.
To get policemen and women, firefighters, and EMS workers more actively involved in physical activity, Club Fit launched a program that would allow active duty officers a 50% price reduction in membership dues. And as an added incentive for these community members to keep coming back to the club, the club partnered with the same cardiologist on a competitive challenge to get people excited about regular exercise.
The contest the club developed measures the engagement of each active duty department and rewards the most active department with a cash prize of $1,000. The winning department is determined by the highest percentage of participants.
Club Fit’s Story Continues
Support groups and community organizations looking to find a place to hold meetings and events could be welcomed into Club Fit in the near future. The club aims to invite more of these groups into their facilities by giving them ample space to discuss upcoming projects that benefit members of the community—while capitalizing on the opportunity to advance their overall mission and ensure that physical activity becomes an essential part of every person’s daily routine.
“There is always another person’s story that needs to be helped. In some ways, sometimes there are too many and it becomes difficult for people to choose who to help,” Koelsch says. “Once you help one cause, then you can move on to the next—making a difference one step at a time. What was certainly done as a way of embracing a philanthropic mentality at the beginning is now something that we have tried to make part of our businesses’ culture.”
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.