Addition of Fitness Proves Successful | Athletic Business

Addition of Fitness Proves Successful

When Sand Creek Country Club decided to add a fitness center, it was treated like all other areas of the club: five-star, full-service and with an emphasis on all generations.

SHAKING UP THE stereotypes associated with country clubs is a challenge for managers everywhere. Frosty-haired golfers may be their bread and butter, but the future lies in attracting younger members. Of course, not many clubs go as young as the Sand Creek Country Club, which has made its name as a five-star, full-service club that places an emphasis on all generations. "We offer programs tailored for men, women and children of all ages," says Rick Matthys, director of fitness and recreation. Sand Creek's offerings appeal to the whole family in all seasons. Outdoor ice skating and ice fishing offer families opportunities to enjoy new experiences together in the winter months. In the summer, a nine-hole children's golf course, a soccer field, baseball diamond and extensive playground facilities are available. This year, Sand Creek also launched a children's summer camp. "We think [this] will [improve] ... our commitment to being the premier family oriented country club in the midwest," Matthys says.

Sand Creek Country Club

Chesterton, Ind. 219 395-5240 Facility size: 55,000-square-foot clubhouse Number of members: 120 recreational members; 350 golfing members Unique features: Outdoor ice skating and ice fishing, nine-hole children's golf course, soccer field, baseball diamond, playground
In the spring of 1997, Sand Creek completed construction on a new 55,000-square-foot clubhouse, which holds its fitness center. The decision to add a fitness center to the already impressive club facilities was not reached lightly. "We conducted an extensive competitor analysis, which included both private clubs and public facilities," Matthys explains. "We also researched the demographic and psychographic profiles of potential club members, and were encouraged by the increasing weight of importance prospective members place on the existence of a fully staffed, full-service health and fitness facility." The club also canvassed current members to determine what percentage had fitness facility memberships elsewhere. Changing demographics have effected the fitness center. "Initially, we targeted a very similar demographic to that which made up the core of our membership at the time of construction," Matthys says. "Subsequently, we have diversified quite considerably." Management has experimented with childcare, social mixers and spa services, and, as a result, has greatly increased participation by women. "I'm always looking for new trends in the market to give our members the latest information on health and fitness," Matthys says. One trend is cross-marketing with other areas of the club, which has been a boon for Sand Creek. "We have started to interface more actively with the golf department, which has resulted in an increase of golf members," says Matthys. In fact, the fitness component of the club's membership has been so well-received, Matthys sees opportunities in going bigger: "We are currently researching a possible facility expansion." Even though Sand Creek has earned consistent high marks from its members, the fitness staff stays on its toes. "We constantly reassess the products and services we offer," Matthys says. To stay atop a competitive heap, Matthys never stops learning. "We continually look for opportunities to go beyond the general health club services," he says. Matthys isn't boasting when he describes Sand Creek's fitness facility as "massively" successful. "We enjoy usage from 120 recreational members throughout the year," he says. "In addition, many of our 350 golfing members make good use of the facility over the winter months." Last year alone, members used the fitness center more than 12,000 times, and the fitness center forecasts a growth of 6 to 8 percent when 2006 numbers are tallied. One of Sand Creek's secrets for success is keeping management duties in-house. "It allows us to ensure a consistently superior member experience," Matthys explains. "We are also focused on building relationships with our members, and that is what we believe truly distinguishes us from our competitors." Regret plays no part in Sand Creek Country Club's decision to add a fitness center to its facility. "We consider the health club to be a tremendous asset to our operation," says Matthys. "We anticipate health and fitness becoming an ever-more important component of people's daily lives, and are proud to make a positive difference."
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