For the club owner or operator, the symptoms are easy to overlook or ignore.
But for the club member, they’re impossible to ignore—insidious, annoying, and cumulative in their impact. The club’s parking lot is full. There aren’t any spots left in the group X class, no benches or dumbbells to be had. And, although there’s an endless expanse of treadmills, not one of them is free to use, either now or in the foreseeable future.
The problem is not a poorly designed facility, too little equipment, or an incompetent staff.
The underlying cause, the condition creating all of these symptoms, is overcrowding.
And the wonder drug, in this case, is a strategy known as capacity management.
Carrie Kepple, the owner of Styles Studios Fitness, opening this year in Peoria, IL, learned about the consequences of overcrowding, and the need to constrain it, during the time she served as the club manager of Les Mills Newmarket, a 20,000-square-foot facility in New Zealand.
“We all want to grow the club industry, but we’re limited by our locations and our bricks and mortar, which dictate how many members we can attract, serve, and retain,” she says. “What we found at Les Mills was that by focusing strongly on improving capacity management we were able to serve more people more often throughout the day.”
The challenge of capacity management isn’t simple, and the solutions aren’t nearly as straightforward as simply buying another treadmill. But because the issue is serious, the price tag involved is relatively small, and the payoff can be significant, clubs are beginning to attend to it conscientiously, worldwide.