• Overcoming Gym Membership Retention Challenges

    by May 2014

    The rise of lower-priced clubs have put greater pressure on gym owners to create an environment that keeps members happy while also empowering them to feel confident that their gym membership investment is well worth it. Ultimately, though, they may lose those members to lower-priced alternatives, writing off the member loss as simply a financial decision. The reality is that the warning signs were there; they just failed to see what was right in front of them.

  • Study: Concessions at Youth Baseball Encourage Obesity

    by May 2014

    A new study published in Childhood Obesity earlier this month suggests that youth baseball may actually do more to promote obesity than curb it.

    The study, conducted by the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, found that youth baseball players between the ages of eight and 11 years old at a North Carolina youth baseball complex consumed high-calorie food items 72 percent of the time and drank  sugar-sweetened beverages 53 percent of the time. Ninety percent of food consumed was purchased from concession stands.

    Some of the most commonly consumed foods: French fries, candy and cookies. 

    As a result, children involved in youth baseball could be consuming more calories than they burn off playing baseball, which leaves them at risk for weight-management and obesity problems. 

    “Though youth sports are an excellent way to promote physical activity, social interaction and positive health behaviors, the food environments are often characterized by less healthy food options with high-calorie contents and lower nutrient density,” senior author Joseph Skelton, MD, MS, said in a press release.

    According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 18 percent of children between the ages of six and 11 were considered obese in 2012 — up from only seven percent in 1980. Obesity can put children at risk for many immediate and long-term health effects.

    With these risks in mind, the Wake Forest Baptist study called for parents to play a more active role in ensuring young athletes receive the proper diet at the ballpark.

    “Parents should plan ahead for these busy times and even advocate in their local sports leagues for policies that address snacks and drinks,” co-author Megan Irby, MS, said.

  • Blog: Does Wearable Fitness Have Legs?

    by Rob Bishop April 2014

    Wearable fitness tracking technology is the future!

    Such excitement was so early-2014. We saw articles in The Wall Street Journal that described how corporate CEOs were big users of wearables and how they were competing against each other to see who could sleep better or walk more. BusinessWeek ran a story earlier this year that discussed the possibility — the likelihood? — of wearables putting gyms out of business. The New York Times ran a piece two weeks ago today about how wearables were being used in gyms.

  • Blog: Wine at the Gym? I’ll Drink to That

    by Emily Attwood April 2014

    Cardio equipment? Check. Towel service? Check. Group exercise schedule? Check. Liquor license? Pending.

  • News and Notes From the IHRSA 2014 Trade Show Floor

    by Michael Gaio March 2014

    There’s nothing like attending a good trade show, especially in the fitness industry. The equipment, the innovation, the music, the energy, the people… Whether it’s our show or IHRSA, I consider attending these shows to be one of the perks of my job.

  • Police Call for More Security After Fight at LA Fitness

    by Nick Daniels March 2014

    When police responded to a large fight Sunday at a Minneapolis LA Fitness, it wasn’t the first time they had been called to respond to an incident there this year — or even the second time.

  • Blog: Let Them Eat Cake, If They So Choose

    by Emily Attwood February 2014

    On Tuesday, the White House announced a series of new initiatives as part of the fourth anniversary of the “Let’s Move!” program. Many of them are a great step forward in the battle against childhood obesity and inactivity, including an expansion of the school breakfast program and a five-year partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association and Boys & Girls Clubs of America will provide 5 million children with healthy snacks and physical activity opportunities after school. 

  • Customer Service Targeting the Club Membership Majority

    by Rob Bishop February 2014

    No good deed goes unpunished. Said differently, we’ve decided that at times we provide customer service that is too good.

    We don’t mean that arrogantly. What we mean is that we can’t care about things that aren’t important to the majority of our customers. It’s just too hard, and it takes a toll on us financially, professionally and emotionally.

  • 5 Tips to Overcoming Gym Intimidation

    by John Agoglia February 2014

    Gym intimidation garners a lot of focus in news stories and motivational columns, and not just due to Planet Fitness' entertaining ad campaign. From the Huffington Post to the Times of India, reports of the impact of gymtimidation -- as Planet Fitness has coined it -- is a leading reason why some 80-percent of the population continues to avoid joining a health club.

    According the Times of India, a recent study conducted by a UK magazine found that "women find exercising at the gym embarrassing and uncomfortable, especially when other people look at them."

    This is not a new revelation, by any means. But, it's not a women-only issue, as men seem to suffer from gym shyness as well.

    A recent NBC News article claims that men are intimidated about not being able to "bench a Volkswagen."

    "The feeling of intimidation is likely quite similar for men and women, varying in intensity, of course, depending on how extreme the (negative, self-assessing) thoughts become. But the triggers can certainly be different,"  Dr. Simon Rego, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York tells NBC News.

    And while many articles give tips and tricks for people to overcome this obstacle, from working out with a buddy, to programs and equipment for getting fit at home, the question is beyond entertaining commercials and "Lunk" alarms (which seems to be a judgment to me). What can independent health club owners do to help get intimidated members to come through the door, while still catering to the more hardcore fitness fanatics?

    "It really comes down to not only creating an inviting environment, but understanding that certain people -- and groups of people -- have more insecurities than others," says Bill Rundle, owner of Boston-based Mission Fitness. "We have started a special program on the suggestion of one of our mature members that allows that demographic to work in small groups together so they have support and someone to help them."

    It is programs such as this, as well as a good on-boarding process, services, and amenities, that will help clubs build a reputation for being a safe environment, which will help attract and retain those that are a bit  wary of joining a gym.

    5 Ways to Build a Less Intimidating Brand:

    1. Separate free weight, cardio and selectorized machines to reduce intimidation. You don't need to keep weights too light or dissuade people from working hard. Just allow people to go where they are comfortable.

    2. Have demographic- and goal-based programming to allow members to feel comfortable in a group of similar people.

    3. Assign a staff or member buddy to all new members so they will feel welcome and as if they know someone at the gym.

    4. Allow for private showers and changing areas in the locker rooms. 

    5. Be inclusive with your marketing efforts. Don't just focus on one type of member or group.


    John Agoglia has spent nearly two decades either working in health clubs or writing about them. He currently writes for several digital and print publications in and out of the fitness industry. 

  • 3 Ways Health Clubs Can Help Keep Kids Active

    by John Agoglia February 2014

    As reported by Athletic Business yesterday, a recent study published in the Wall Street Journal shows that participation in the top four youth sports are on the decline. While that could be seen as an alarming revelation given the current obesity epidemic, it can also be viewed as an opportunity for club owners to help pick up some of the slack and keep America’s youth moving.