STA-Swimming Teachers Association
STA-Swimming Teachers Association
STA-Swimming Teachers Association
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

Follow Health Club Management on Twitter Like Health Club Management on Facebook Join the discussion with Health Club Management on LinkedIn Follow Health Club Management on Instagram
UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Get the latest news, jobs and features in your inbox
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

People profile: Susan Grady

CEO, Kildare Sports and Leisure Facilities

Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 1
Grady joined Kildare Sports and Leisure 10 years ago
Grady joined Kildare Sports and Leisure 10 years ago
As an operator, you need to pick your price point and do what you can for that, but do it really well. We have great quality facilities, but what we offer isn’t luxury

How did you get into leisure management?
I always loved participating in sport – I was an international high jumper for Ireland – which led me to a degree in sports management.

When I graduated, I went into an assistant manager position with the local authority in Kildare, and from there to a start-up in Dublin helping to develop and grow a new gym, which is where I discovered how much I love developing facilities.

Ten years ago, I was the first employee of Kildare Sports and Leisure, a non-profit, private operator created to manage the local authority facilities in Kildare. I came on board, as CEO, at the tail end of the construction of two sites, which were being constructed to replace existing facilities.

What do you think are the main trends in fitness?
Technology is a big one: not just tracking, people want to share what they are doing as well. We have embraced this and use the Technogym mywellness app, so our instructors have a much clearer handle on what everyone is doing and can help them to achieve their goals. We’re trying to get the balance between using technology to engage with members, but not bombard them.

We’re also finding that gyms are now just part of a bigger picture in people’s training. Participation in cycling sportives and Ironman events is skyrocketing, so we’re seeing more people coming to the gym to supplement the training they do outside.

Also we’re seeing more participation from younger people, especially males from 15 years old, who are very influenced by body image and want to do weights. We have a huge responsibility to show them that the gym should also be used for fitness and wellness and not just aesthetics.

Virtual is another trend we’ve embraced. I don’t think virtual will ever take over from instructor-led classes, but it does reduce studio down-time and gives a non-intimidating introduction to new experiences, such as spinning.

What are your biggest challenges?
An ongoing challenge has been to find quality staff. We now take the approach of employing people who show potential at entry level and training them.

We’ve seen some impact from the opening of warehouse facilities: large, independently-owned gyms, with basic facilities, such as no changing rooms. They seem to attract a younger demographic, whereas we have a diverse audience of older adults, teens and people with disabilities. In my opinion, our facilities are more inclusive but this impacts on our ability to specialise in any particular aspect of fitness. What the warehouse gyms do offer, is a personalised, social experience so going forward, we’ve identified that we need to improve our social and community element.

When we started in business we were the least expensive offering locally, but since then many of the surrounding clubs have dropped to the same price as us, or lower, rather than reposition their offering. We do have a strong local market positioning: as an operator, you need to pick your price point and do what you can for that but do it really well. We have great quality facilities, but what we offer isn’t luxury.

What has been your biggest achievement?
I’m proud of the way that we’ve built the brand from nothing. The sites had been known by their names for 30 years and we needed to rebrand them all as K Leisure, which we’ve successfully achieved.

We’ve also just completed extensions at our Naas and Newbridge sites, which were completely self-funded, and will help to drive up participation by increasing the capacity.

All three sites have benefitted from cardio equipment upgrades. A significant investment was also made in all three to upgrade energy efficiency systems, with the installation of CHP units in both swimming sites. Naas has a new functional training area and an additional group fitness studio. Newbridge is a landlocked site, so we reconfigured the sports hall area and created a functional training zone.

Going forward, where will your focus lie?
We’re constantly looking at what we can do to improve the member journey and experience. All three sites will be 10 years old in March, so we’re starting a strategic review to see where the next focus should be.

We’ll also be continuing to put a big focus on engaging with older people. We have huge participation in aqua among older ladies, but it’s difficult to get them into the gym or classes. We want to create an environment which isn’t based on the body beautiful and where everyone feels comfortable coming.

About K Leisure

Kildare Sports and Leisure Facilities runs three sites, branded as K Leisure. The Athy and Naas sites each offer a swimming pool, sauna and steamroom, a gym and fitness classes. The Newbridge site is dry, but offers Astroturf and a sports hall. Membership costs €45 or €69 for a couple, with reduced rates for concessions.

Event participation is driving more sports training
Event participation is driving more sports training
Functional training zones have become a popular part of the sites
Functional training zones have become a popular part of the sites
All three K Leisure sites have recently seen upgrades
All three K Leisure sites have recently seen upgrades
Kildare is working to appeal to a wide range of ages
Kildare is working to appeal to a wide range of ages
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/imagesX/388711_740159.jpg
'As an operator, you need to pick your price point and do what you can for that, but do it really well. We have great quality facilities, but what we offer isn't luxury.' – Susan Grady, CEO of Kildare Sports and Leisure Facilities
People
With two instructors per class – one devoted to correcting form – we fix people, and this creates clients for life
People
Much of the fitness industry branding is based on a no pain, no gain philosophy, but we didn’t want to present Rabble like that, even though a session is ridiculously tiring!
People
As clubs with swimming pools and health and beauty facilities, the low cost model wasn’t going to work for us, but the clubs weren’t as high-end as David Lloyd clubs either. Our first intervention was to win over the staff and encourage them to act as though it was a high-end club
Features
HCM Celeb
The boxing entrepreneur aims to help people ‘unleash the fighter within’ to better handle life’s challenges, with the slogan, ‘It’s not yours until you fight for it’
Features
Strength training
You may be able to help your members and customers avoid or reverse osteoporosis by encouraging weight bearing activities, as Liz Terry reports
Features
ukactive
Following the ActiveLab Live! finale at the recent Active Uprising conference, we take a look at startups that are using technology to help people become healthier and more active
Features
Asia
Over 300 fitness executives gathered in Singapore recently for the World Fit Summit. HCM’s Steph Eaves attended to chat with CEO and founder Ross Campbell and find out more about the industry in Asia
Features
Statistics
The fitness market in Europe is entering a new phase of growth according to the European Health & Fitness Market Report 2019 by EuropeActive and Deloitte. HCM reports
Features
Flooring
With the increase in popularity of functional training, the floor is increasingly becoming a piece of equipment in itself. Kath Hudson investigates
Features
HCM Celebs
In the name of work, Australian actor Chris Hemsworth has undergone impressive physical transformations for film roles such as Thor in The Avengers and Marvel films. Inspired by the public’s interest in his workouts, he’s now created a health and fitness app called Centr that utilises the expertise of his team of world-class experts
Features
Retention
Are you optimising HIIT for your members, or are they put off by the pain? Abigail Harris looks at research into ways to better support members towards a positive outcome
Features
Retention
There’s no one thing that will fix your member retention, but clarity of mission, a strong culture and an eye for data will drive significant change. Kate Cracknell reports from this year’s Retention Convention
Features
Active ageing
The older people get, the more likely they are to have a long term health condition. But getting ill is not an inevitable consequence of getting older, so targeting the over 50s market could bring about multiple wins. Kath Hudson reports
Features
Innovation
Silicon Valley hacker Dave Asprey used his tech skills to gather the latest fitness kit to create a bio hacking boutique. Kath Hudson investigates cusapero
Features
Promotional Feature
Promotional feature
EMS training is a great opportunity to differentiate your offering in a crowded fitness market. The kit requires very little space and the business model can be extremely lucrative - Phil Horton, miha bodytec
Latest News
Fitness subscription platform ClassPass has appointed a UK general manager as it looks to grow ...
Latest News
Bannatyne Group has named Karen Wilkinson to the board of Bannatyne Fitness. The appointment comes ...
Latest News
UK children will be offered a greater opportunity to take part in 60 minutes of ...
Latest News
Regular exercise, a balanced diet, quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol are the best ...
Latest News
The best class instructors earn the best salaries the market offers, bringing enhanced value to ...
Latest News
Research from property experts at Colliers International suggests people are increasingly willing to pay more ...
Latest News
The Grade II listed, 17th century Grantley Hall hotel and wellness retreat will reopen today ...
Latest News
Boutique health and fitness operator Ten Health and Fitness plans to double the size of ...
Job search
POST YOUR JOB
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: New London PT facility partners with Eleiko
WE11, a luxury co-working studio for wellness professionals, is a stunning facility with a fully equipped gym, treatment rooms, changing rooms and The WE11 Lounge.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Collaboration, not aggregation, is the message
MoveGB is a collaboration-based platform, but being a platform, one of the common worries we hear from our partners is about loss of customer ownership.
Opinion
promotion
Member retention is a growing problem for long-established gym chains, who are battling the growing budget and boutique gym market.
Opinion: Are you trying to beat budget gyms at their own game?
Video Gallery
Nautilus - Glute Drive
Core Health & Fitness
Inspired by the increasing trend of glute exercises seen in various and dangerous executions in the gyms today. Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: Rephouse Europa Ltd
Rephouse is a leading manufacturer of high-performance fitness flooring systems. With its state-of-the-art production technology ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Jordan Fitness
Jordan Fitness have been at the forefront of premium gym design, with a strong reputation ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Lockers/interior design
Fitlockers: Lockers/interior design
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Governing body
EMD UK: Governing body
Audio visual
Hutchison Technologies: Audio visual
Professional services
Deloitte UK: Professional services
Architects/designers
Zynk Design Consultants: Architects/designers
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Management software
GymSales: Management software
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
23-25 Jul 2019
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, Australia
Diary dates
05-06 Sep 2019
TagusPark, Oeiras, Portugal
Diary dates

features

People profile: Susan Grady

CEO, Kildare Sports and Leisure Facilities

Published in Health Club Management 2019 issue 1
Grady joined Kildare Sports and Leisure 10 years ago
Grady joined Kildare Sports and Leisure 10 years ago
As an operator, you need to pick your price point and do what you can for that, but do it really well. We have great quality facilities, but what we offer isn’t luxury

How did you get into leisure management?
I always loved participating in sport – I was an international high jumper for Ireland – which led me to a degree in sports management.

When I graduated, I went into an assistant manager position with the local authority in Kildare, and from there to a start-up in Dublin helping to develop and grow a new gym, which is where I discovered how much I love developing facilities.

Ten years ago, I was the first employee of Kildare Sports and Leisure, a non-profit, private operator created to manage the local authority facilities in Kildare. I came on board, as CEO, at the tail end of the construction of two sites, which were being constructed to replace existing facilities.

What do you think are the main trends in fitness?
Technology is a big one: not just tracking, people want to share what they are doing as well. We have embraced this and use the Technogym mywellness app, so our instructors have a much clearer handle on what everyone is doing and can help them to achieve their goals. We’re trying to get the balance between using technology to engage with members, but not bombard them.

We’re also finding that gyms are now just part of a bigger picture in people’s training. Participation in cycling sportives and Ironman events is skyrocketing, so we’re seeing more people coming to the gym to supplement the training they do outside.

Also we’re seeing more participation from younger people, especially males from 15 years old, who are very influenced by body image and want to do weights. We have a huge responsibility to show them that the gym should also be used for fitness and wellness and not just aesthetics.

Virtual is another trend we’ve embraced. I don’t think virtual will ever take over from instructor-led classes, but it does reduce studio down-time and gives a non-intimidating introduction to new experiences, such as spinning.

What are your biggest challenges?
An ongoing challenge has been to find quality staff. We now take the approach of employing people who show potential at entry level and training them.

We’ve seen some impact from the opening of warehouse facilities: large, independently-owned gyms, with basic facilities, such as no changing rooms. They seem to attract a younger demographic, whereas we have a diverse audience of older adults, teens and people with disabilities. In my opinion, our facilities are more inclusive but this impacts on our ability to specialise in any particular aspect of fitness. What the warehouse gyms do offer, is a personalised, social experience so going forward, we’ve identified that we need to improve our social and community element.

When we started in business we were the least expensive offering locally, but since then many of the surrounding clubs have dropped to the same price as us, or lower, rather than reposition their offering. We do have a strong local market positioning: as an operator, you need to pick your price point and do what you can for that but do it really well. We have great quality facilities, but what we offer isn’t luxury.

What has been your biggest achievement?
I’m proud of the way that we’ve built the brand from nothing. The sites had been known by their names for 30 years and we needed to rebrand them all as K Leisure, which we’ve successfully achieved.

We’ve also just completed extensions at our Naas and Newbridge sites, which were completely self-funded, and will help to drive up participation by increasing the capacity.

All three sites have benefitted from cardio equipment upgrades. A significant investment was also made in all three to upgrade energy efficiency systems, with the installation of CHP units in both swimming sites. Naas has a new functional training area and an additional group fitness studio. Newbridge is a landlocked site, so we reconfigured the sports hall area and created a functional training zone.

Going forward, where will your focus lie?
We’re constantly looking at what we can do to improve the member journey and experience. All three sites will be 10 years old in March, so we’re starting a strategic review to see where the next focus should be.

We’ll also be continuing to put a big focus on engaging with older people. We have huge participation in aqua among older ladies, but it’s difficult to get them into the gym or classes. We want to create an environment which isn’t based on the body beautiful and where everyone feels comfortable coming.

About K Leisure

Kildare Sports and Leisure Facilities runs three sites, branded as K Leisure. The Athy and Naas sites each offer a swimming pool, sauna and steamroom, a gym and fitness classes. The Newbridge site is dry, but offers Astroturf and a sports hall. Membership costs €45 or €69 for a couple, with reduced rates for concessions.

Event participation is driving more sports training
Event participation is driving more sports training
Functional training zones have become a popular part of the sites
Functional training zones have become a popular part of the sites
All three K Leisure sites have recently seen upgrades
All three K Leisure sites have recently seen upgrades
Kildare is working to appeal to a wide range of ages
Kildare is working to appeal to a wide range of ages
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/imagesX/388711_740159.jpg
'As an operator, you need to pick your price point and do what you can for that, but do it really well. We have great quality facilities, but what we offer isn't luxury.' – Susan Grady, CEO of Kildare Sports and Leisure Facilities
Latest News
Fitness subscription platform ClassPass has appointed a UK general manager as it looks to grow ...
Latest News
Bannatyne Group has named Karen Wilkinson to the board of Bannatyne Fitness. The appointment comes ...
Latest News
UK children will be offered a greater opportunity to take part in 60 minutes of ...
Latest News
Regular exercise, a balanced diet, quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol are the best ...
Latest News
The best class instructors earn the best salaries the market offers, bringing enhanced value to ...
Latest News
Research from property experts at Colliers International suggests people are increasingly willing to pay more ...
Latest News
The Grade II listed, 17th century Grantley Hall hotel and wellness retreat will reopen today ...
Latest News
Boutique health and fitness operator Ten Health and Fitness plans to double the size of ...
Latest News
Crunch Fitness could double in size over the next five years, according to CEO Jim ...
Latest News
énergie Fitness has tasted success at the bfa HSBC Franchise Awards, winning the Brand Awareness ...
Latest News
The acquisition of commercial fitness equipment manufacturer Life Fitness by KPS Capital Partners has completed, ...
Job search
POST YOUR JOB
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: New London PT facility partners with Eleiko
WE11, a luxury co-working studio for wellness professionals, is a stunning facility with a fully equipped gym, treatment rooms, changing rooms and The WE11 Lounge.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Collaboration, not aggregation, is the message
MoveGB is a collaboration-based platform, but being a platform, one of the common worries we hear from our partners is about loss of customer ownership.
Opinion
promotion
Member retention is a growing problem for long-established gym chains, who are battling the growing budget and boutique gym market.
Opinion: Are you trying to beat budget gyms at their own game?
Video Gallery
Nautilus - Glute Drive
Core Health & Fitness
Inspired by the increasing trend of glute exercises seen in various and dangerous executions in the gyms today. Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: Rephouse Europa Ltd
Rephouse is a leading manufacturer of high-performance fitness flooring systems. With its state-of-the-art production technology ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Jordan Fitness
Jordan Fitness have been at the forefront of premium gym design, with a strong reputation ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Lockers/interior design
Fitlockers: Lockers/interior design
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Governing body
EMD UK: Governing body
Audio visual
Hutchison Technologies: Audio visual
Professional services
Deloitte UK: Professional services
Architects/designers
Zynk Design Consultants: Architects/designers
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Management software
GymSales: Management software
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
23-25 Jul 2019
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, Australia
Diary dates
05-06 Sep 2019
TagusPark, Oeiras, Portugal
Diary dates
Search news, features & products:
Find a supplier:
STA-Swimming Teachers Association
STA-Swimming Teachers Association