Member Experiences

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YMCA Corner: Marketing, New Members, & the Helix (Part 2)

YMCA p2YMCAs Talk About Business, Members & the Helix

In Part 2 of this series, we again recognize the YMCAs are pretty much like other clubs…except they’ve got this history about serving their communities and providing welcoming, open-arms & a wholesome environment for the whole family that’s drilled into their DNA.

But in a very competitive business, YMCAs face the same realities as other fitness clubs.  To stay in business and fulfill their charter, they need effective membership strategies, quality services, and leading-edge weight-loss, muscle-toning, and cardio fitness training solutions and approaches.

As mentioned in Part 1, Helix has a growing footprint with YMCAs across the country and receives a lot of feedback from these clubs about their Helix experiences, more of which is provided below:

GREAT FOR SPORTS TRAINING

Suzanne Porticello, Darien YMCA, Darien, CT

Our overall experience with the Helix has been great.  A wide variety of our members are using it and everyone’s been pleased.  We train a lot of athletes, and we’ve been using it in sports-specific training – field hockey, lacrosse, ice hockey, football.  These sports require a lot of lateral movement and typical cardio fitness training equipment just doesn’t help, so the Helix is certainly unique.

I’d say it’s helpful in attracting & retaining members – a lot of people walk in and have never seen it before, so that in-and-of itself is a positive since we have a lot of competition in the area and the Helix is definitely a unique piece for us to have.

ONE OF OUR TOP MACHINES

Austin Scisciani, Licking County YMCA, Newark, OH

We’ve had the Helix for about six months and I’d say it’s already one of our top machines in terms of popularity with the members.  People are wary at first because they’ve never seen anything like it, but once they’ve tried it they really enjoy it because it does something so different – even though it tires them out a lot quicker.

The Helix is popular with all types of members – every age group and every level of athleticism – so it’s not just the younger athletes who are using it.  And it’s a machine that people aren’t used to seeing in other gyms, so it has that exotic appeal that helps attract potential new members.

HITS MUSCLES OTHER MACHINES DON’T

Cyndee Goodinson, YMCA of Attleboro, Attleboro, MA

Our overall experience has been very positive.  It’s a hard workout, the members like it.  It’s challenging because it’s a different workout due to the movement of the machine, so they like the experience because they’re hitting muscles that they don’t normally work on with cardio fitness training machines.  It gets them to a cardio-vascular level that the other machines really don’t hit.  It’s definitely a compliment to what we offer – we have two.  

For more testimonials from YMCAs, check out YMCA Corner: Marketing, New Members, & the Helix (Part 1)

YMCA Corner: Marketing, New Members, & the Helix (Part 1)

YMCA p1YMCAs Talk About Business, Members & the Helix

YMCAs are pretty much like other clubs…except they’ve got this history about serving their communities and providing welcoming, open-arms & a wholesome environment for the whole family that’s drilled into their DNA.

But in a very competitive business, YMCAs face the same realities as other health clubs.  To stay in business and fulfill their charter, they need effective membership strategies, quality services, and leading-edge weight-loss, muscle-toning, and cardio fitness training solutions and approaches.

Helix has a growing footprint with YMCAs across the country and we receive a steady stream of feedback about their experiences with the Lateral Trainer, a sample of which is provided below:

BOTH CARDIO WORKOUT & RESISTANCE TRAINER

Amanda McFerren, Lancaster YMCA, Lancaster, PA

We’ve had the Helix for about 3 years and our overall experience has been very good.  I’d say it’s used mostly by women that are already in athletic shape. 

I think that the members using the Helix regularly already have a good understanding of their bodies and realize that this is a motion that you can’t get on any other machine because of the planes you are moving in.  When I train people on it I actually tell them you can do two different things: you can go fast and get nice cardio fitness training or you can use it as more of a resistance trainer where you’re able to train and tone the muscles it targets.

The Helix has proven to be a good selling point with potential members – I’ve worked in several facilities and I tell people that we are the only one I’ve seen with a Helix, and that really does kind of draw them into the advantages of our club.

AWESOME OVERALL EXPERIENCE

Betty Linko, Indian Valley YMCA, Harleysville, PA

Our overall experience with the Helix has been awesome, the members love it!  A lot of members used to use the elliptical but they like the different motion and the work the Helix does on the lower body.

As far as what the gym is offering, the Helix helps give us variety by being one more piece that helps members from getting bored with their fitness training.  We show prospective members the Helix and it helps show the range of things we offer, so it’s a plus in attracting new members.  Once they join people love it and I think the Helix definitely helps in satisfying & retaining members.

BUNS OF STEEL – THE MEMBERS LOVE IT

Michael Gonzales, McCook YMCA, McCook, NE

The members love it – it makes them sore but they love it.  People like it because it’s a challenge for them, and it definitely hits a muscle group that they can’t work on with other equipment.

It’s definitely a positive in maintaining our membership – takes a while for them to get familiar with it but once they get going they really like it.  We have quite a few guys who use it but most of the users are women.  I tell them they’ll have trouble going through airports because they’ll have Buns of Steel.  Once they hear that they jump on because I think that’s an important area they’re trying to target.

For more testimonials from YMCAs, check out YMCA Corner: Marketing, New Members, & the Helix (Part 2)

Club Owners Corner: Sales, Member Retention, & the Helix (Part 3)

S&R p3Clubs Talk About Improved Membership & the Helix

In Part 3 of this series we continue looking at the impact of Helix on the Membership Issue facing all health & fitness clubs – specifically, attracting new members (sales) and retaining existing ones (member retention).

While there are lots of factors that go into developing a faithful and growing membership list, a big part of member interest & satisfaction revolves around the equipment you offer…does the club’s equipment help members achieve their fitness goals, is it easy to use, and does it provide a challenging & enjoyable experience.

As reflected in Parts 1&2, Helix receives a lot of feedback from clubs about their Helix lateral training experiences and here’s another installment on what clubs are saying about the Helix impact on membership issues:

I LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT

Grace Fiorilla, Summit Fitness, Chester Springs, PA

I go out of my way to show the Helix to prospective members when they’re touring the club because it’s such a different piece of equipment and I think it really helps keep the club fresh and on the leading edge.  It’s very popular with our members – once people have been introduced to it and gotten over their initial hesitation to try a new type of machine, they start using it and they love it so over time  I’m sure it helps with member retention.

I think people like using the Helix because it’s such a different motion that’s working on muscles you never get to with other machines.  And it can really provide an intense cardio workout, so you can get a great workout quickly and it’s just such a different feel than you can get with any of our other machines.  I love it, love it, love it!

MEMBERS APPRECIATE ITS VARIETY & EFFICIENCY

Tony Cruz, XTC Fitness & Sports, Tyler, TX

Over the two years we’ve had the Helix our experience has been excellent.  It offers variety not only for our club members but for our trainers as well.  By variety I mean how it offers the lateral movement and also, for most members, that’s not a machine that they see every day.

It’s a popular machine particularly with women and athletes.  We show all our members how to use the Helix, and the ones who gravitate to it use it pretty frequently.  I think members also appreciate the efficiency of the machine, both in terms of proving a challenging workout in minimal time and also saving their body because of its low impact.  When we’re touring the club with prospective members, the Helix is definitely one of the items we show primarily because of its uniqueness.

EVERYONE HAS A SMILE ON THEIR FACE

Dick Snyder, LifeSport Fitness, Philadelphia, PA

It really ‘tours’ well with prospective clients because it’s so divergently different…It also conditions the body nicely, and it says a lot about the Helix that almost everyone has a smile on their face when they’re using it, so there’s a playfulness to it that’s pretty unique.

For more on this topic, check out Club Owners Corner: Sales, Member Retention, & the Helix (Part 1) and (Part 2).  Or check out other categories & topics in our Testimonials.

Club Owners Corner: Sales, Member Retention, & the Helix (Part 2)

S&R p2Clubs Talk About Improved Membership & the Helix

In Part 2 of this series we continue our look at a central business issue for any health & fitness club, membership – specifically, attracting new members (sales) and retaining existing ones (member retention).

While there are lots of factors that go into developing a faithful and growing membership list, a big part of member interest & satisfaction revolves around the equipment you offer…does the club’s equipment help members achieve their fitness goals, is it easy to use, and does it provide a challenging & enjoyable experience.

As we mentioned in Part 1, Helix gets a lot of feedback from clubs about their Helix lateral trainer experiences, and here’s another sample of what clubs are saying about its impact on the membership issue:

I WOULDN’T HAVE A CLUB WITHOUT ONE

Craig Ehleider, Future Fitness, 5 locations in South Jersey/Philadelphia area

I’ve got a huge amount of equipment diversity, so while I wouldn’t say I’ll fill a club with Helixes, I’d also say that I wouldn’t have a club without one.

The Helix lateral exercise machine provides diversity & options on cardio.  With cardio, it’s helpful psychologically for members to have different choices, and the Helix provides options that just aren’t out there with other machines.  The different look and focus of the Helix also helps attract new members – especially if you’re a good salesman and can talk up the options it provides – but it’s the quality of a machine that helps in member retention over time and Helix has that too.  I do like the Helix, I think it’s a good variation, and I’m glad you invented it.

ONE OF OUR SELLING POINTS

Daryl Coston, Anytime Fitness, Brandywine, MD

I actually love the Helix, and my members love it too.  I wish I had more of them.  The members just love the machine because it’s so different from anything else we have – it’s just a great machine.  I would say that more women seem to gravitate to it because it works the inner and outer legs and they tend to work on that more than men, but men like it too. 

When we show the club to prospective members, the Helix is definitely one of our selling points.  It’s different than anything else in terms of how it looks and what it does with the different muscle groups so it’s very persuasive when we’re talking about the features of our club.

NOT YOUR EVERYDAY STANDARD EQUIPMENT

Julie Abraham, Aquus Lifestyle Studio, Grand Rapids, MI

I’ve used just about all the standard equipment and one of my objectives for Aquus was to bring in equipment that that would set us apart from the normal gyms.  When I saw the Helix it fell right into what I was looking for, and this is also why my clients like it, because it’s not your everyday standard equipment. 

For more on this topic, check out Club Owners Corner: Sales, Member Retention, & the Helix (Part 1) and (Part 3).  Or check out other categories & topics in our Testimonials.

Club Owners Corner: Sales, Member Retention, & the Helix (Part 1)

S&R p1Clubs Talk About Improved Membership & the Helix

A central business issue for any health & fitness club is membership – specifically, attracting new members (sales) and retaining existing ones (member retention).

While there are lots of factors that go into developing a faithful and growing membership list, a big part of member interest & satisfaction revolves around the equipment you offer…does the club’s equipment help members achieve their fitness goals, is it easy to use, and does it provide a challenging & enjoyable experience.

Helix receives a ton of feedback from clubs about their experiences with the Helix Lateral Trainer, and here’s a sample of what clubs are saying about its impact sales & member retention:

ABSOLUTELY HELPS IN RETAINING MEMBERS

Rob Myers, Anytime Fitness, Salt Lake City, UT

It’s a very popular item – we have two Helix Trainers and they’re both in use pretty much all the time – trainers use it in their programs and members use it on their own. 

Members like it because it’s easy to use and the uniqueness of the lateral movement – rather than just front-to-back – effectively focuses on the whole lower body area, which is something women in particular like to work.  The Helix absolutely helps us with member retention, without a doubt.

IT POPS OUT WHEN WE SHOW THE CLUB

Nick Elifano, Miracle Fitness, Rio Grande, NJ

The Helix fits in well in our club and it gives us something different from most other clubs in our area.  It’s a popular machine with all our members, but seems to really attract members that are more focused on a challenging cardio workout – more endurance and stamina stuff. 

We explain the Helix as a compliment to the traditional elliptical and treadmill, and we emphasize that the more ways you can train your body the better.  When we’re touring the club with prospective members, we point out the more unique things that we have and the Helix is pretty prominent on our back wall, so if someone’s on it when we walk past it pops out more than anything else and they’ll ask. “What’s that?” and we go from there.

SEPARATES US FROM THE COMPETITION

Craig Durso, ROK Health & Fitness, E. Rockaway, NJ

The Helix is always being used, so the members really do like it.  From the club’s perspective, I like it because it gives us another piece of cardio equipment, it’s different, and a lot of the other clubs in the area don’t have one. 

We definitely show the Helix off to prospective members because it’s something that separates us from the competition.  People like to use it, they’re comfortable using it, so yes, I think the Helix is a positive factor in member retention.

For more on this topic, check out Club Owners Corner: Sales, Member Retention, & the Helix (Part 2) and (Part 3).  Or check out other categories & topics in our Testimonials.

Trainers Corner: Lateral Athletic Training & the Helix (Part 2)

Athletes p2Trainers Talk About Athletes & the Helix

In Part 2 of the series we continue our discussion on athletes, whether they be prepping for the hockey, football, soccer, basketball, tennis, lacrosse, skiing or wrestling season, as a special group of clients for any health club or trainer.

Generally, athletes are a pretty independent bunch – they have a great work-ethic and simply require guidance on best practices and approaches.  A persistent problem faced by clubs & trainers, however, is proving athletes with a training environment that addresses their specific requirement – lateral strength & mobility.

As discussed in Part 1, Helix provides just such a solution – we’ve even made it part of our name…the Helix Lateral Trainer.  Lateral athletic training is not a fad, it’s a new direction.  Health clubs & trainers give us a lot of feedback, and here’s another sample of what we’re hearing about athletes:

AFTER 50 YEARS, SOMEONE GOT IT RIGHT!

Mike D’Angelo, Boston’s Best Trainer, Allure Magazine

The Helix is the perfect way for the athlete to cross train to avoid long term over-use injuries. Stimulating the joints from lateral motion will aid in joint integrity, allowing them to last longer.

After 50 years of cardio machines, finally someone got it right!  It’s a woman dream come true, probably the closest thing they are going to get to a magic pill for those trouble areas! From major muscle groups to minor ones, the Helix Lateral Trainer addresses them all.

UNIQUE MACHINE, UNLIKE ANY OTHER

Dan Boothby, Northeastern University Hockey, Boston, MA

I have used the Helix with my athletes and found it to be a unique machine unlike any other. We can provide extra conditioning and still target the muscles of the hip girdle with a tremendous amount of glute recruitment. More importantly it helps to correct muscle imbalances between the adductor and abductor muscle groups or adductor imbalances from the left and right leg. We have used the Helix for conditioning protocols to prepare athletes to return to the ice after injury.

CORNERS THE MARKET IN LATERAL TRAINING

Natalie Joslin, VillaSport Athletic Club & Spa, The Woodlands, TX

We originally started off with one unit on a 1-2 week trial basis, but we got such positive reviews from members that we bought the first one and have now added a second one. 

Most of the members seem to be using the Helix for warm-up and cool-down, and I’ve seen as many men as women using it, maybe even more.  Several of our athletes and the guys who were using our Cybex machines seem to have migrated to the Helix when they can get on them, which can be a challenge because they’re pretty popular.  The Helix falls right in line with our functional training – we train in three dimensions, not just the frontal plane – and it definitely corners the market in terms of lateral athletic training.  I love that we have two of them and eventually would like to have five in our club if we can find the space.

For more feedback on the role Helix can play in athletic training, check out Trainers Corner: Lateral Athletic Training & the Helix (Part 1).  Or check out other categories & topics in our Testimonials

Trainers Corner: Lateral Athletic Training & the Helix (Part 1)

Athletes p1Trainers Talk About Athletes & the Helix

Athletes, whether they be prepping for the hockey, football, soccer, basketball, tennis, lacrosse, skiing or wrestling season, are a special group of clients for any health club or trainer.

Generally, athletes are a pretty independent bunch – they have a great work-ethic and simply require guidance on best practices and approaches.  A persistent problem faced by clubs & trainers, however, is proving athletes with a training environment that addresses their specific requirement – lateral strength & mobility.

Helix provides just such a solution – we’ve even made it part of our name…the Helix Lateral Trainer.  Lateral athletic training is not a fad, it’s a new direction.  Health clubs & trainers give us a lot of feedback, and here’s a sample of what we’re hearing about athletes:

GREAT FOR ALL TYPES OF ATHLETES

Willie Bolvin, Body Performance, San Antonio, TX

We have a mixture of both personal training clients and athletic clients and the Helix is popular across the board: for athletic clients it’s really great because it helps with the lateral movement, and with the personal training clients – women in particular – they love it because they’re looking to tone the outer and inner thighs and the Helix really targets those areas. 

All types of different athletes – from basketball to soccer to football to tennis – like the Helix because they all move laterally in their sport, and the Helix lateral athletic training works directly on all those muscle groups.  When talking to prospective members we always mention the Helix because it’s a unique piece of equipment.

GOOD CARDIO WORKOUT IN LESS TIME

Eric Aschim, University of Montana, Missoula, MT

People like the Helix because it’s a different type of machine from our other equipment with its lateral movement that works on different muscles.  Plus they don’t have to use it as long as other machines – they get as good a cardio workout in a shorter amount of time.  It seems to be more popular with women and our athletic cross-fit folks – plus the skiers who are focused on exactly the muscles and range of motion worked on by the Helix.

ONLY MACHINE THAT SIMULATES FULL RANGE OF ATHLETIC MOTION

John Lanzotti, Landmark Health Club, Peoria, IL

In particular, the Helix is a popular machine with our athletes because it’s the only machine that simulates the full range of athletic motion rather than just the forward and backward plane. Also, of course, women like it because it works on the adductors, abductors, quads and glutes.

We’ll also use the Helix with members coming back from knee-related problems.  While it’s important to make sure they are using it correctly, the Helix really helps in getting those folks back to full functioning more rapidly.

For more feedback on the role Helix can play in athletic training, check out Trainers Corner: Lateral Athletic Training & the Helix (Part 2).  Or check out other categories & topics in our Testimonials.

 

Spotlight Interview: Success Through Diverse Fitness Training

Dick SnyderDick Snyder, co-owner of LifeSport Fitness, operates the longest tenured fitness training facility in the center of Philadelphia and discusses some of the factors that have led to its success in this urban setting.

Located in the Art Museum area of the city, LifeSport has reconditioned an historic horse stable into 20,000 square feet of club space providing a broad and unique blend of services to a large & diverse membership.

LifeSport currently has over 1,000 members serviced by a staff of 5 and with an ‘inter-generational’ client base.

Helix:  According to analysis by groups like IHRSA, the fitness industry has weathered the economic storms of the last few years pretty well.  How has your club’s business & membership held up during this period?

Snyder:

Well, after 27 plus years I don’t keep my finger on the pulse like I used to so I can’t give you much in the way of up-to-the-minute specifics.  I will say, however, that we’ve had some of our best results in the business over recent years so I guess from our perspective the economic news has been pretty good.

Helix:  Can you please talk about some of the key factors that you think have been contributing to your success in attracting and retaining clients?  In other words, what do you think is bringing your clients back?

Snyder:

From a name recognition perspective, I think our longevity and reputation is really important.  We’ve been here a long time, lots and lots of people know us, and recommendations and word-of-mouth work wonders.

Once we attract new members, it’s important to minimize attrition and I think we’ve done a good job at that.  Convenient access to the club is a significant factor in a downtown area so we have 2-3 hour street-side parking plus bike parking & free bike locks.  Because our membership is such an intergenerational blend we don’t really design specific programs – ‘movement is health’ is kind of our approach and we have a lot of fun getting everyone into motion.

Probably the most important factor that makes us stand out is our broad range of diverse fitness training options, which is based on the really diverse compliment of equipment that we offer.

We haven’t limited ourselves to the standard set of machines you’ll find at most chains, which means that we might not have as many treadmills but we’ve got a much wider variety of machines – I mean, who has a Stand-Up Paddle, who has a Dragon Boat or 12 Concept 2 Rowers?  For example, we’ve got 14 different kinds of cardio – one of the more distinctive ones of which is the Helix.

Helix:  How long have you had a Helix at your club, and what has your experience been?

Snyder:

I think we got our first Helix a couple of years ago and it’s been received very well by the members.  It also really ‘tours’ well with prospective clients because it’s so divergently different – I mean it goes through an entirely different plane than what most cardio goes through.

It also conditions the body nicely, and it says a lot about the Helix that almost everyone has a smile on their face when they’re using it, so there’s a playfulness to it that’s pretty unique.

When presenting it to members, I tell them it’s an opportunity to emphasize a range of muscle groups that aren’t being worked by other machines, and it can directly address both strength and flexibility.

I also describe it as an opportunity to bounce out the strength & musculature of the core area so you can increase people’s flexibility and functionality.  I think it’s quite effective to use the Helix in conjunction with some of the other equipment like the rowing machines or the bicycles or the ellipticals – I really like it.

One of my objectives is to create – in a machine way, if you will – a ‘sports feel’, and because the Helix is working through a different plane you are sort of recreating sports-type movement.  Although it’s not quite like actually playing soccer or basketball, the Helix definitely moves in the direction of sports-type activity.

Helix:  We’ll end with a recurring business question facing club owners:   Why should a potential client opt to pay a club rather than do it on their own?

Snyder:

For people that are serious about achieving their fitness objectives, the overwhelming reason to join a club is the communal support you get there.  Like most things in life, it’s a choice – kind of like the choice between watching a movie by yourself at home or going to a theatre with IMAX and surround sound and lots of people enjoying the same movie.  In a club communal support is important for people’s compliance, staying connected to their objectives, and getting the most out of the facilities available there.

Helix:  Thanks so much for your time and insights.

 

Spotlight Interview: Personal Relationships Pay Dividends

Ace BaldwinAce Baldwin, Manager & Senior Trainer at Anytime Fitness in Santa Rosa, California discusses the factors that have enabled his club to hold its own during a tough economy.

A former California Grand Champion Natural Bodybuilder who continues to compete on a professional level, Ace employs an in-depth knowledge of nutrition & exercise to support both his personal fitness training clients and all other members at the club.

His club currently has around 700 members that trend towards a more mature, family oriented client base.

Helix: How has your club’s business & membership held up during the difficult economic times we’ve had over the past several years?

Baldwin:

Well, I’d guess that there have been some effects but overall we have managed to continue to grow.  I’d say that over the past couple of years our membership has been increasing by slightly more than 5% a year, which I think is pretty good compared to a lot of businesses.  So, all things being equal I’d say we’ve more than held our own.

Helix: Given the comparative success you’ve experienced, can you identify some of the factors you think have contributed to attracting & retaining members?  In other words, what do you think is bringing your clients back?

Baldwin:

I think that the single most important thing for our members is the environment that we have established at the club.  If I had to describe it I’d call it ‘comfortable’ – we’ve made sure that the touch-and-feel of the club is pretty low-key so that members feel relaxed and comfortable as they go through their work.

We also make sure that the training staff establishes comfortable personal relationships with each member.  Plus, of course, we make sure that we are providing as much personal attention as the member requires without hovering over them.  So overall, I’d say a key factor for our members is that it’s a comfortable, relaxed place to get their work in.

Helix: How long have you had a Helix at your club, and what has your experience been?

Baldwin:

We’ve had a Helix for 3 years and from the club’s perspective it’s a great piece of equipment.  It has a small footprint, you don’t need to plug it in, and it’s intuitive to use so members can just hop on and start using it – real advantages for the club.

Also, the members really like the Helix.  I think the main reason is that it’s unlike any other piece of equipment we have. When I say it’s different I mean it’s the only thing that provides lateral training for the lower body.  So instead of the front & back leg muscles, the Helix engages everything with its side-to-side motion – glutes, inner & outer thighs, and even the core.

One way I know the members like the Helix is because it really gets used all the time – popular enough to cause some congestion in waiting to use it.  I also think they like it because it really provides an intensive work-out in a short period of time – 15-20 minutes on the Helix is like 45-60 minutes on something else.

When we’re giving prospective members a tour of the facilities, we always show them the Helix because it’s novel and a cool piece of equipment.  When they ask what it is, we tell them to jump on and try it out.

Helix: In addition to your club’s environment & equipment like the Helix, are there any other things that you’ve found help maintain & grow your membership?

Baldwin:

We are available to members 24/7, so I think that the convenience of being able to base your training on your own schedule rather than the club’s schedule can be very important for certain members.

We also have specific training programs available to members and some of these are quite popular,  For example, we have something called the 12 Week Transformation Challenge which members have found attractive, particularly our women members.

I also think it’s important to have the equipment up-and-running and also to have a variety of equipment available to satisfy a broad range of member requirements.  That, of course, is where something like the Helix comes into play.

Helix: Why should a potential client opt to pay a club rather than do it on their own?

Baldwin:

From everything I’ve seen, when someone tries to train at home there’s almost no chance they’ll stick with it.  They might buy a treadmill or another piece of equipment, but it won’t be long before they’re hanging clothes on it or moving it to the garage.

A club offers advantages like professional trainers who can help you design a program that fits your need, and a wide variety of equipment that can help you implement that program.

But I think the major advantage is that a club ISN”T at home – for lots of members, the club serves as their own little place to get away from everything that’s distracting them and do their work.

Helix: Thanks so much for your time.

 

Spotlight Interview: Success From Personalized Fitness Training

Julie AbrahamJulie Abraham, co-founder of Aquus Lifestyle Studio in Grand Rapids, MI, discusses her personalized fitness training studio’s success in its first year of operation.

Julie and her partner, Barb Bergmans, established their studio with the core mission of providing clients with a highly individualized studio designed around balanced personalized fitness training and wellness concepts and practices.

Employing a marketing philosophy based largely on “word-of-mouth”, Aquus has implemented a successful niche strategy targeting clients that are often overlooked or underserved by more traditional fitness clubs and gyms.

Helix:  According to IHRSA, the fitness industry has been performing well of late.  How has your club’s business & membership held up during these generally difficult economic times?

Abraham:

We have only been open since February of 2012, and since then we have seen steady growth every month…and it’s been all word of mouth, we haven’t done any advertising for the facility itself, and it’s just worked out great.

Our clientele is made up of both men and women with a primary age breakdown between 45 and 75, so we’re hitting a client niche that doesn’t want to be in a gym-environment and wants a very personalized experience.  So I’d have to say that because of our target market of more mature and financially stable clients we’re not being influenced by the economy at all.

Helix:  Based on the success you’re having, what do you see as the biggest business challenge you have in the near-term?

I think an immediate challenge I face is to know at what point to bring on another trainer.  My maximum goal is to have 5 trainers, which I thought would take two years but I think is happening faster than expected.  I’m sitting in a 7000 square foot building and because of the niche I’m trying to fill, I don’t want to create a big huge membership.  I want to be able to take care of the clients I have here in the special environment that I’ve created for them.

Helix:  By focusing on the niche market you’ve selected, has this impacted the services and programs that you’re offering your clients?

We believe that we need our clients in our studio at least two times a week for them to see results.  The way we have approached this is to move away from a membership model towards having clients purchase personal training packages which include free-time access to the facilities.  The packages are designed to get them into the studio at least a couple days a week and with the free-time access we’re seeing some of them five days a week.

Our personal training packages not only move us away from the “contract” and “membership” models, which we believe run counter to our customized approach, but it also creates an incentive for clients to be more faithful about getting into the studio.  Which, of course, leads to faster results which in turn encourages them to purchase additional program packages, and so forth.

Helix:  What were the factors that you considered when selecting equipment like the Helix for your studio?

I’ve used just about all the standard equipment and one of my objectives for Aquus was to bring in equipment that that would set us apart from the normal gyms.  When I saw the Helix it fell right into what I was looking for, and this is also why my clients like it, because it’s not your everyday standard equipment.

When I go to gyms, what I see constantly are out-of-service treadmills and out-of-service elliptical machines and I’ve been very careful in that regard because I simply don’t have that many machines, but I’ve never had service problems with Helix – in the few instances where I had a small issue they’ve been Johnny-on-the-spot, so I’ve been very happy with that.

As far as how we’ve been using the Helix, it’s been phenomenal not just for what it does for the legs but also for what it does for the core as well, and that’s what everybody is excited about.  It’s a tremendous machine, I love it.

If you spend 15 minutes on that Helix, that’s all you need for about three days – I’m serious.  I’m pretty heavy duty when I’m working out and I’m used to doing 40 minutes to an hour on the elliptical, but if I do 15 minutes on the Helix, I’m spent!

Helix:  Finally, a straight-up marketing question: why should a prospective fitness client opt to pay for something rather than do it on their own?

When you pay for something there’s an accountability that gets created.  So when you make a monetary commitment to your own fitness you’re making an investment in yourself and you just don’t throw it away.  You are putting a value in yourself and that’s the kind of lifestyle change we’re trying to encourage at our studio.

Helix:  Thanks so much for your time.

More on Aquus Lifestyle Studio can be found at http://AquusLife.com/