Why Recovery Is Essential to Health Club Retention

Providing therapeutic recovery services can boost your club’s retention and non-dues revenue. Here’s how.

Adding extra wellness-based services to the core mission of health clubs has become more common, even for high-traffic facilities. This is partly to maintain a competitive edge, but it’s also a win/win strategy if it’s executed correctly. More services can create more value for the member, while adding significant non-dues revenue to the club’s bottom line.

Club operators are offering a range of extras, including massage, infrared saunas, cryotherapy, stretching machines, relaxation pods, and nutritional supplements.

Massage in particular was historically viewed as a service designed to pamper members, but industry experts view massage as a key aspect of a trend emerging that club operators should take seriously: increased awareness of overall wellness and exercise recovery.

Kevin Sanker, general manager of Healthtrax Fitness & Wellness, a Connecticut-based chain with 18 locations around New England, says that recovery is an important—though often underutilized—aspect of overall wellness.

“We're family friendly. We're geared towards improving wellness in a lot of different ways, not only physical, but mental and social,” explains Sanker. “Recovery doesn't get the attention that it deserves. People don't take the time to cool down and rejuvenate after cardio and strength training.”

Serious athletes, even professionals, understand the importance of recovery. Steve Saunders, head strength and conditioning coach for the Baltimore Ravens, makes exercise recovery a high priority for the players he trains.

“Insufficient recovery can stunt and delay progress. I believe recovery is vital to any training regimen, which is often overlooked,” he says. “Just like NFL players, everyday exercisers are looking for progress and seeking improvement. Exercise breaks the body down and proper recovery builds it back up stronger than before. Without adequate recovery progress is delayed and improvement is diminished.”

5 Ways Recovery Is Important in Today’s Fitness Climate

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Healthtrax Fitness & Wellness offers plenty of ways a member can recover after a workout.

There are multiple reasons why recovery is something clubs should address. Here are a few.

1. Increased training demands

The increase in functional fitness, heart-rate training, performance training, and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) for individuals and small group training is surging. And younger members are attracted to more intense training, with approximately 40% of CrossFitters between the ages of 24 and 34. While these training modalities offer tremendous opportunity, they also increase the risks for injury and overtraining syndrome.

2. More consumer focus on self-care and wellness

Wellness is a $4 trillion industry, the “new status symbol,” according to reports, and populations of all ages are tuned into holistic health therapies. Massage therapy was estimated last year to be a $16 billion industry. According to IHRSA research, Millennials are particularly interested in wellness-based services. The demand is there.

3. More biofeedback from wearables

Consumers are increasingly aware of their recovery needs through wearable technology. HIIT-based heart-rate zone training depends on a steady stream of data informing members of their physiological metrics. This self-monitoring will only increase, and along with it the demand for exercise recovery services to manage these health metrics.

4. Increase in the stress-management market

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A woman lounges on a HydroMassage Bed.

According to Business Insider, workplace stress costs employers $300 billion per year, leading to consumers forking over more than $13 billion on stress management, with that number increasing 10% yearly. If your club can offer stress relief services, you’ll get your members’ attention.

5. Increased non-dues revenue (while improving overall member health)

This is one of those “doing well while doing good” advantages of operating a health club. Offering recovery services helps members avoid burnout and injuries, which keeps them motivated and returning to the club. You’ll also have created a new revenue stream.

If your current recovery strategy is a couple of foam rollers, you need to think about upping your game.

Finding the Right Recovery Fit for Your Club

If you’re convinced you need to address recovery for your members, you need to find what works best for your club’s culture and space considerations. You may not have the budget for massage therapists or other wellness professionals, even after accounting for projection of new revenue.

At Healthtrax, Sanker discovered an elegant solution: HydroMassage Beds and Lounges. “We tested them in a couple of our clubs, and got great results,” says Sanker. “We are implementing them in five other centers right now.”

HydroMassage systems were first utilized in physical therapy offices and rehabilitation facilities, but now HydroMassage Zones are a central part of many fitness facilities. And they have cross-generational appeal, whether wellness, stress management, or recovery from intense exercise is needed.

“Recovery doesn't get the attention that it deserves. People don't take the time to cool down and rejuvenate after cardio and strength training.”

Kevin Sanker, General Manager

Healthtrax Fitness & Wellness - Newington, CT

HydroMassage Beds and Lounges work for elite athletes as well. Saunders has them on hand for the Ravens players to use to recover from hard training.

“It’s a passive modality of recovery our athletes enjoy,” says Saunders.  “Effortless, very effective, and time efficient are a few of the qualities our athletes enjoy the most from the HydroMassage products. They have been a great addition to our recovery room.”

Healthtrax is wellness focused, with high numbers of families and Baby Boomers as members. According to Sanker, one reason that HydroMassage Lounges and Beds have been popular with members is their ease of use.

“It’s a simple process,” he says. “We explain how to use the machine. The member enters a six-digit code, hits start, and then controls the pressure and speed. There are features that offer videos, music, and books they can utilize while they're getting their massage. It’s appropriate for pretty much every demographic.”

According to Sanker, the HydroMassage units have created a healthy non-dues revenue stream. “It’s an add-on service, and we’ve created about $65,000 worth of revenue in six months. Our goal is to get 1,000 members paying $10 per month to create a $100,000 annual revenue stream.”

For members, it’s money well-spent—a recovery service for overall wellness and stress management at a reasonable price point.

To find out more about HydroMassage Beds and Lounges, visit their website or call them at 800-699-1008.

Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org