Behold a Success
Anne B. McDonnell
Ecco Fitness Studio ("ecco" means "behold" in Italian), Dublin, Ohio, is a boutique fitness center that was designed to offer members an escape from daily worries and stress. "The design is calming and beautiful," says President Romy Rotolo. "The goal was for members to feel good while exercising." This is accomplished by the use of color and space, Rotolo explains. "Blues and greens evoke the feeling of a Mediterranean resort, buttressed by sand-colored carpet and polished floors. Original art by local and international artists grace the walls. Space is divided by use so that members don't feel vulnerable, as they might in a large open floor plan."
Staff members are another essential element of Ecco. "We know that the most important thing we offer is staff. Our staff is highly trained and responsive to our members' needs. This is the main thing that sets us apart from other fitness centers," Rotolo says. Staff members have meetings with members to go over their program and their goals. A monthly fitness consultation is included in every membership. Says Rotolo, "This one-on-one meeting is one of the main reasons our members have been so successful." Also, having degreed, certified trainers on the floor, available to everyone, makes it possible for "members to continuously intensify their training regimen and feel confident that their technique and approach is correct," she says.
Because of this personalized attention, Ecco has "an extremely low rate of attrition — less that half of the industry average," Rotolo says. "We believe that it is most efficient and less expensive to keep the members we have rather than to be constantly trying to replace members we lose." To do this, staff members call members who haven't been in for a few weeks, and invite them to come in for a special session with a trainer. Says Rotolo, "We know every member by name, and we let them know how important each one of them is to us."
Unique programming also sets Ecco Fitness Studio apart. Its Diva Girls for girls ages nine to 13, and Basic Training for boys nine to 13, were developed with the help of a local pediatrician. The programs feature twice-weekly sessions for 12 weeks that include a discussion topic and exercise sessions, focusing on a different activity each week (yoga, strength training, kickboxing, aerobics, running and more). Each child is helped to identify the type of exercise activity that works best for them. The fitness studio also offers tae kwon do and yoga for children, Special Needs Tae Kwon Do for children, personal training for special-needs children, a health and fitness book club meeting once a month, and a charitable fundraising event once a year.
Programming also helps Ecco Fitness make a profit. Personal training and group fitness are its most successful profit centers. Instead of typical training packages, trainers create unique packages for every client. Explains Rotolo, "When we have a personal training prospect, we meet with them and go over a personal interest form. It tells us what their goals are and what they want to accomplish. With that information, we set a realistic time line from which we think they can accomplish these goals."
The other successful profit center is group fitness. "Most clubs focus on how many classes they can fit in. Instead, we focus on the quality of the classes we offer," Rotolo says. "We keep the class size small, giving the instructor a chance to work with each student. We charge more than other clubs, and people are willing to pay it because they like the classes better and understand that they get better results. We need four people in each class to break even, and our classes average 14 participants."
To keep programs current, the staff at Ecco are "constantly studying the industry for new and innovative programs that would assist our members in reaching their goals," says Rotolo. Staff members also create new programs and exercise techniques themselves.
Ecco Fitness Studio's motto, "Belong, Become, Be," speaks clearly about its message to members. Says Rotolo, "Here at Ecco Fitness Studio, our members feel as though they are a part of each other's fitness program. They help each other reach their goals, and feel confident in the healthier, happier people they have become."
Facility StatsEcco Fitness Studio
Dublin, Ohio.; 614-799-9696; www.eccofitness.com
Date fitness facility opened: August 2003
Fitness facility size: 4,500 square feet
Number of members: 700-plus
Strength equipment: Full line of selectorized equipment and free weights by Quantum Bio-arc and Paramount
Cardio equipment: Treadmills, elliptical trainers, stair steppers and cycles by True, Trotter, NordicTrack, StairMaster and NuStep
Group exercise classes: Yoga, kickboxing, Pilates, Vinyasa Flow, Zen Booty, group cycling, Cycling Extreme, Cycle and Sculpt, Kick and Sculpt, Group Strength Training
Management/fitness assessment software: Aphelion
Facility of the Week
Ithaca College Athletics and Events Center