CBI: Many of NeV’s brands make use of celebrity partners or franchisees. What are the benefits, and/or the challenges, of doing so?
DG: Actually, nearly every NeV Brand has celebrities involved with either the corporate or franchised clubs. Crunch has partnered with soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo to create CR7Crunch, which has opened its first location in Madrid, Spain. Joakim Noah, of the Chicago Bulls, plans to open five Crunch facilities in Chicago.
UFC Gym has joint venture partner sites with UFC stars B.J. Penn, Frankie Edgar, Urijah Faber, Michael Bisping, and Cub Swanson. A-Rod Energy Fitness, of course, involves a partnership with Yankee legend Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod also partners with us on UFC Gyms in Miami, where he and girlfriend Jennifer Lopez often get trained together by our very own coaches.
These high-profile people are all huge personal-fitness enthusiasts themselves, and can help get the active and healthy lifestyle message out to the masses.
CBI: Does NeV possibly have another new brand up its sleeve?
DG: NeV always has something up its sleeves. However, if we told you what it was, then it would no longer be up our sleeves…
CBI: Your title is executive vice president of fitness and retail. What, exactly, does that entail?
DG: We combined these two aspects of the business because I’ve had professional experience with both. I started my career with Macy’s, and then went to Liberty House, a specialty store chain in Hawaii. When I was at 24 Hour Fitness, I led the growth of its retail business to $70 million a year. Today, with NeV, our nutrition, accessories, and apparel arms constitute 6% to 15% of total revenue per location, depending on the brand.
CBI: How much of a contribution do those three categories make?
DG: Nutritional products are the largest part of our retail business, because the key to a successful training program is producing results for members. That requires a nutrition component that includes menu-planning and nutritional supplementation. Our partner, dotFIT, led by Neal Spruce, has created a program that delivers the right nutrition at the right time; we use it with all of our North American brands.
Second, in terms of retail, is accessories. Our trainers recommend workout accessories, such as foam rollers and home exercise equipment, and, at UFC Gym, we also offer MMA (mixed martial art) accessories. We produce some pieces for branding and a lot of the “I forgot” business—locks, ear buds, gloves, and socks. Apparel is critical for branding, but not a huge part of our revenue. The retail business—nutrition, accessories, and apparel—is our third-largest revenue stream behind dues and personal training.
CBI: Obviously, many club companies are now getting involved in online selling. What’s NeV doing in terms of online stores?
DG: For UFC Gym, we’ve partnered with UFC to sell our products online. They provide a very strong online shopping experience, so it makes more sense for us to work with them, rather than to start up on our own. We’ve also developed a robust program with dotFIT that allows trainers to have their clients receive auto-shipments of nutritional products, for which the trainer and the club both get credit.
CBI: Moving on to fitness…is it possible for you to quantify this aspect of NeV’s activities?
DG: Personal and group training is the key differentiator for the NeV brands. It’s where we create the deepest relationships, and produce the best results for our members. Training is responsible for 25% to 35% of total revenue, per location. In fact, training revenue is actually larger than dues in some locations.
With respect to fitness, we always strive to be at the “tip of the spear,” especially with respect to people—that is, who we choose to join our team and how we onboard them; education—in-house training, certifications, specialties certifications, and modality specific training; modalities—new types of personal training, every year, with best-in-class educational support; and technology—innovations to enhance the member and team member experience both in and out of the gym.
We have amazing fitness leaders, such as Steve Stonehouse, Nastasia Genova, Mike Spiegel, and William Coker, who help us stay sharp and on point at the tip of the spear.