Wellness is a hot topic and an even hotter industry. According to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit research and educational resource for the wellness industry, the global wellness market grew 10.6 percent to $3.72 trillion from 2013 to 2015, while the global economy shrank 3.6 percent over the same period. Not surprisingly, the United States led that spending. Americans are driven by the desire to not only live longer but to live a quality life. They aren’t satisfied with just hitting the gym for cardio and weights. They are drawn to specialty studios or gyms that offer wellness-related services like yoga, meditation or nutrition education, in addition to traditional fitness programming.

This growing focus on wellness presents a tremendous opportunity to health clubs, gyms and other fitness facilities that want to be that one stop shop for a client’s overall health and well-being.

As tempting as it may be to jump on the wellness wagon, club owners will be most successful by setting up programs and classes that help their clients create positive behavior changes that can be sustained for a lifetime. One gym in the Pittsburgh area is seeing the business benefits of adding wellness-related services.

“If you look at the CrossFit pyramid, nutrition is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. So, we now have a nutrition coach on staff to help our clients become more aware of what they’re eating and how it affects their health and fitness,” says a Pittsburgh-area gym owner. “In addition, we have a physical therapist on site and offer an InBody scan with every membership.”  

It’s paying off for the owner through greater client retention and increased loyalty. “When you show someone how to lose weight for a lifetime and not a moment in time through a combination of nutrition and fitness, they love you forever,” she says.

So where does a gym or club owner begin if they want to implement more wellness programming? It can be overwhelming. First, realize you don’t have to offer everything under the sun. Survey your members and provide 3 to 5 wellness options and see which they rank as their top 3. You’ll then know what they are interested in and would perhaps pay for if offered.

Then, start small, with one or two of the services your members say they want. If you don’t have the expertise in-house, partner with local experts who would be willing to charge a nominal fee or donate their time in exchange for the publicity they receive for speaking to your members.

Finally, be patient. Give new services time to catch on. Market them via your website, email list, flyers in the gym and other ways to get the word out. Gather feedback from clients who participate in a workshop or purchase a new service. Always be open to new ideas and improve on what you already offer.

Don’t forget about the people who are most responsible for operating your “wellness welcome wagon” — your personal trainers, group fitness instructors, and health coaches. If you’re ready to create a more wellness-driven culture in your gym and need to get your staff up to speed, consider training them in behavior changeweight management or fitness nutrition.