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How to Make Any Gym Look Like a Premium Club

Any health club business model can increase their value proposition if they choose the right equipment.

With so many club owners finding themselves in a squeeze these days, some are choosing to switch to an HV/LP (high-volume/low-price) model or else radically reconsider their pricing structure. An article in the December CBI, “The Budget Brands Are Seizing Market Share,” looked at this recent trend to find out how clubs are handling this dilemma.

“A lot of middle market clubs are struggling and trying to figure out, how do I price this thing if not make a complete change in my business model?” said Bill McBride, president and CEO of Active Wellness, a club management firm, and BMC3, a consultancy, both in San Francisco. “There still is a strategic play to be in the middle, but you have to make sure that your value chain, your expense engineering, is set up to justify that.”

As the article states, a multitude of variables need to be considered in your pricing strategy: “local market conditions; membership and pricing options; the addition or limitation of certain amenities; how to deal with increased member volume; market positioning, and, perhaps, rebranding.”

Strategy and finance true fitness p2 column

Every club owner seems to be in a squeeze these days. They have to invest their resources into the most important aspects of customer experience. In other words, you can have a high-volume/low-price model or a high-value/low-price model. Which version of the acronym your club lives up to depends on the choices you make, especially on the equipment floor.

Trying to Keep Up with the Big Boys

One of the reasons clubs are facing market challenges is the growing consumer demand for variety. Keeping up with virtual fitness, app technology, functional training workouts, emerging small group training (SGT) styles, and other new club features can be costly.

Younger demographics are more conditioned to seek variety in their health club choices. A new IHRSA toolkit, “Give Your Health Club a Millennial Makeover,” explores the habits of this generation, which represents the largest health club demographic, comprising 33% of all members, according to the 2019 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report. But they’re a fickle group. As IHRSA’s research discovered, Millennials are more likely to jump from club to club, with 34% of this generation using multiple facilities.

Serving these consumers can be a challenge, but it’s important to keep it all in perspective. Change is good, but change can be deceiving. Sometimes the shiny new object is just that: a distraction that leads to a dead-end. Or in business terms, a failed investment.

As digital technology and flashy workout trends proliferate, health clubs risk neglecting the fundamental services that members have always valued. As IHRSA research reveals:

  • Generation Z, the generation following Millennials, is much more likely to be a member of a nonprofit or a YMCA/YWCA/JCC, with 62% of this generation belonging to one of these two business models.
  • Millennials are more inclined to belong to fitness-only clubs or nonprofits. Collectively, these two segments attract 57% of Millennials.
Strategy and finance true fitness stairstepper column

The bread-and-butter services that clubs have always provided are essential to the success of retaining even those younger demographics associated with flashy trends. The fundamentals matter. That means a well-stocked cardio floor, free weights, and resistance machines. In fact, resistance machines were second only to treadmills in overall usage, according to research collected in the 2019 IHRSA Consumer Report. IHRSA’s 2019 “International Fitness Industry Trend Report” found that among many multipurpose clubs “selectorized resistance equipment is a top five trend with an adoption rate of 78%.”

In the end, this is a critical choice all clubs face. To create a high-quality experience, you need to choose weight machines that have aesthetic appeal, high durability, and ergonomic variety, with a touch of digital flash.

Selectorized Resistance Machines for the 2020s

TRUE Fitness, a manufacturer of commercial cardio and strength equipment since 1981, recently unveiled their new Palladium Series of selectorized strength machines. With a premium design profile, the Palladium line offers the latest in engineering advances in selectorized technology and ergonomic functionality.

Features include:

  • Gas cylinder-assisted seat adjustments, accessible for standing or sitting;
  • Converging and diverging unilateral movements (on select machines);
  • TRUE height adjustment guides that instruct users on proper seat placement based on user height;
  • QR codes linked to online instructional graphics, and an optional rep counter/timer.

“The new Palladium Series is the result of over three years of research, product design and development by a very experienced team of strength equipment specialists in industrial design, biomechanical engineering and product development,” says Frank Trulaske, TRUE Fitness founder and CEO.

Strategy and finance true fitness p1 column

These selectorized machines aren’t just aesthetic marvels, they’re constructed for heavy use. Each unit in the Palladium Series goes through rigorous testing standards for ultimate durability. They have the staying power of workhorse machines with the precision engineering and design appeal of high-end luxury models.

The Palladium Series is fully customizable and available with a wide range of upholstery colors to better fit your branding scheme. TRUE currently offers 10 machines in the Palladium line, and will extend that to 19 different models by the end of 2020.

To learn more about the Palladium Series of selectorized strength machines, visit the TRUE Fitness website. Orders can now be placed through TRUE Fitness sales representatives. Also stay up to date with TRUE by following them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org