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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

A big welcome

For some overweight people, going to a gym or exercise class is a daunting prospect. Kath Hudson talks to gym operators specifically targeting plus-size customers with a welcoming, tailored package

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 6
many of the successful plus-size offerings are run by people who have successfully lost weight themselves

In the US and the UK, 60 per cent of people are either overweight or obese. Obesity causes many health issues including some cancers, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stress and depression. Some experts say obesity is responsible for more ill health than smoking.

Although this is a hard market for the fitness industry to reach, we are now seeing concerted efforts to meet the needs of overweight consumers. “The opening of gyms specific to plus-size people in the US is indicative of a wider change within the sector – a move towards adapting to the needs and demands of consumers and offering increasingly niche fitness facilities and programmes,” says CEO of ukactive David Stalker.

He continues: “A cultural shift has begun in the sector towards viewing people in a holistic way, and looking at the causes of an individual being overweight rather than just treating the consequences. We need to continue to build on this, through further innovation and collaboration, to reach the large percentage of the population who remain inactive.”

In the UK, we’re starting to see a change in the sort of programmes being offered. LA Fitness has partnered with Weight Watchers to link physical activity and nutrition, for example, while Nuffield Health launched a comprehensive nutritional programme in January 2013 covering everything from digestive health, through blood sugar management, to energy and stress consultations. Groups such as Nordic Walking also tie up with local healthcare providers to deliver programmes for the management of obesity and related conditions. Meanwhile Curves and Gymophobics target their marketing at women who want to get more active, but who previously may not have felt comfortable using a gym.

Complementing these efforts, the ukactive Research Institute is currently working with fitness centres across the country to build an evidence base for delivering physical activity counselling to people who may be overweight and suffering from chronic health problems, to help them make positive lifestyle changes. There’s also a rise in niche qualifications in areas such as weight management, nutrition and psychology.

Many of the successful plus-size offerings are run by people who have successfully lost weight themselves, and so understand the challenges and the fears that overweight people have about entering gyms and starting to exercise. To cover fitness alone is not enough; most providers also look at nutrition, and give counselling support too.

Here we take a look at a selection of fitness operations that have been designed specifically for overweight customers.

Body Exchange Canada

FOUNDER: Louise Green

I set up Body Exchange in Vancouver in 2008, as a lifestyle change, after having a baby. Previously I was working as a talent agent in the film industry. It was stressful and involved long hours, and I didn’t think it would mix well with motherhood.

While pregnant I gained around 45lbs, but I was still passionate about working in fitness, so I decided to target upper-size people. I did some market research and found there was nothing dedicated to this group of people in Canada. It immediately attracted a lot of media interest, so I realised it was very timely.

No-one is banned, but the language and imagery of our marketing material is targeted at upper-size people. To market the business, we’ve looked at the lifestyle patterns of our target client and have gone to them, as they won’t come to us. I call places like Weight Watchers clubs “watering holes”, as here you find larger people who are motivated to change. Doctors also refer people to us.

The programme is bootcamp-style, using equipment like resistance bands, BOSU balls and agility ladders, and is run in community-based locations. Exercise takes place either one-to-one or in classes, which vary in size from five to 25 participants. We don’t run sessions in health clubs because our customers wouldn’t enter the buildings; they take place in community halls or outdoors. Body Exchange also offers an online, customisable nutrition programme, as well as goal-setting and lifestyle coaching.

We offer a programme based on two or three days a week. To start with, people are fearful they won’t keep it up – people come with a lot of fear and lack of trust in themselves. But the sense of community in the group really builds motivation. Our customers organise hikes and snow-shoeing in the mountains together. For those who buy into our offering, retention is really good.

Some people lose huge amounts of weight and transform their bodies, while others come off their medication and are now no longer pre-diabetic. Others become more fit but don’t lose weight, because they can’t control their eating – I think we’re dealing with a lot of emotional eating. Very often obesity is just a symptom of a deeper problem. Eating is the biggest struggle for most.

I have now licensed the business, so it operates in six different communities in Vancouver, but I want to make Body Exchange a national company through licensing. Alberta, Calgary and Ontario are the first cities I want to target and, as I’m originally from the UK, I’d like to take it there.

Green has now licensed the concept
Green has now licensed the concept
Green says her clients prefer to avoid gyms
Green says her clients prefer to avoid gyms

Square One - United States

FOUNDER: Marty Wolff

Ilived 25 years of my life morbidly obese and learned many bad habits, but I always wanted something else. When I appeared on The Biggest Loser, I found my place – as well as meeting my wife.

After leaving the show 146lbs lighter, I did a lot of public speaking, which culminated in launching Square One in Omaha, US, last year. It’s a club of like-minded, larger people. Most are morbidly obese and we use a mixture of exercise, therapy, dieting and mentoring on how to tackle obstacles to help members control their triggers and cravings. Most of them have no clue about the fight they are fighting, or how to defend themselves, so we help them to build strategies.

The programme is based on a mix of research and my own experience. For example, one thing obese people tend to suffer with is an ‘all or nothing’ mentality: they think that, if they break the pattern by eating a cookie, they might as well give up that day. I compare this to spending money. If you buy one thing you haven’t planned, you don’t have to go and empty the bank account.

Many people see incredible results with weight loss, but some people simply can’t get past the emotional eating and fail to lose weight. Working out is the easiest habit to grasp, because I can watch them, but I can’t watch them when they’re at the fridge at home.

But even when people are obese, or morbidly obese, exercising can make a huge difference. Losing 8–10lbs could mean reducing or coming off blood pressure and cholesterol medication.

Recruiting members is one of the things we’re still learning how to do. The difficult part is working out how to approach people and we’re experimenting with that – targeted advertising on Facebook, for example, for those who have ‘liked’ The Biggest Loser and Weight Watchers. When compared to the industry standard, we do a really good job at retaining people. This is because we’ve created a community of people.

Square One offers packages starting at US$60 and rising to US$300 a month. Whether in the gym or in classes, PT or small group training, people always have to work under the guidance of a trainer.

Going forward we plan to franchise, initially in the mid-west of the US.

Square One sees a high rate of retention
Square One sees a high rate of retention

Buddha Body Yoga - United States

FOUNDER: Michael Hayes

I was tired of being the biggest person in my yoga class, so in 1996 I embarked on a Sivananda yoga teacher-training course in Barbados. After this, I developed my own practice and worked privately with another teacher, discovering how to get my body into the yoga postures.

Buddha Body Yoga grew out of this experimentation and is the only yoga offering I know of that caters exclusively for plus-size people. Although with my skills I could teach regular yoga, I find larger people more interesting and challenging to work with. Millions of teachers work with the slender, strong and fit, but only a handful work with big people.

I run seven classes a week at our New York studio and am just negotiating new space so I can expand my class size. Finding clients is not necessarily easy though: word of mouth and media coverage seem to be the best way, but many plus-size people remain scared to come to classes. I’ve had people register and not turn up, or arrive five minutes late but then refuse to join the class.

Once people start coming, however, retention is good because I make it fun – it’s a community with lots of jokes and playing with postures. It’s not serious like many other yoga classes can be.

Some people come because they want to lose weight, some want to be more flexible, some want to experience yoga and others like the feeling of movement. If I can stop someone hobbling, or help them move and sit more comfortably, I consider that a success.

I’d like to take the concept across the US and around the world with teacher-training. I’ve set up a certified five-day yoga teacher-training programme for working with big people, which is open to qualified yoga teachers.

Classes are taught in a light-hearted way
Classes are taught in a light-hearted way
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/HCM2013_6plus.gif
Kath Hudson talks to gym operators specifically targeting plus-sized customers with tailored, non-intimidating packages
People
HCM people

Ben Lucas

Founder, Flow Athletic, Sydney
We advise our Flow Athletes to complete classes at a ratio of one yoga class to one strength class to one cardio class. This combination has very positive effects
People
HCM people

Jo Smallwood

general manager, Oldham Leisure Centre
We saw the opportunity to initiate new partnerships with the Oldham Foodbank to help local residents during the COVID-19 crisis. We can’t serve our community in the way we would usually do, so we’ve moved resources to help where people need us most
People
HCM people

Aaron Smith

Founder, KX Pilates
‘KX’ stands for ‘the Kaizen Experience’, which means ‘change for the better’ in Japanese. It’s a philosophy that focuses on continuous improvement. We’re always seeking to improve, not only as a company but as individuals
Features
Reopening
David Lloyd Leisure has launched a raft of outdoor classes, including an enhanced role for its Battlebox concept, as Liz Terry reports
Features
Supplier showcase
Bannatyne has driven member engagement with Les Mills during the lockdown
Features
Training
Balance training is set to become a major fitness trend, with exercisers increasingly appreciating the benefits of having a strong core and good balance, particularly as they age. Lauren Health-Jones rounds up the latest product releases
Features
Talking Point
The fitness industry has shown incredible flexibility during lockdown, pivoting to digital to keep people active. But as lockdowns end, we ask what impact the pandemic will have on facility provision
Features
Statistics
ukactive, 4global and partners have modelled the likely recovery from the lockdown. Ed Hubbard outlines the numbers
Features
Partner briefing
BMF, the outdoor fitness franchise company co-owned by Bear Grylls, is launching a £1m initiative designed to offer financial support to PTs and exercise professionals in getting back to work after the lockdown
Features
Consumer culture
Ken Hughes, expert in consumer culture and human behaviour spoke as part of the Technogym Talks series of webinars about how operators can navigate the new consumer landscape
Features
Latest News
UK consumer confidence has improved significantly since the beginning of the lockdown, with a fifth ...
Latest News
The PGA Tour has recently bought 1,000 Whoop bands for its golfers, after PGA Tour ...
Latest News
ukactive has announced that Active Uprising and the National Summit are going digital as part ...
Latest News
Industry body ukactive has today (1 July) hosted a delegation of government and public health ...
Latest News
Health and fitness company Ingesport – which operates the GO fit chain of gyms in ...
Latest News
Mountainside Fitness in Arizona has filed a lawsuit against state's governor, Doug Ducey, after he ...
Latest News
Physical activity levels in England have continued to fall from those recorded at the initial ...
Latest News
Franchise operator Club Pilates has shown that there is growing confidence in the US fitness ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Fisikal chosen as tech partner for ‘JP4’; new health app from fitness expert, Jessie Pavelka
Fitness expert and television host, Jessie Pavelka has collaborated with Fisikal, experts in digital management solutions, to create the new JP4 app, a premium 12-week personal health and fitness transformation programme that takes the user on a journey of change through four key elements of health.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: EGYM presents Corona Gym Solution, for the successful re-opening of fitness studios
Finally, the time has come: fitness and health facilities around the globe are gradually resuming operations.
Video Gallery
Temple Gym - Nautilus Equipment
Core Health & Fitness
Temple Gym - Nautilus Equipment Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: TVS Group
The TVS Group supply and install sports and fitness flooring to a wide range of ...
Company profiles
Company profile: EXF Fitness
EXF offer so much more than modular systems and pick and mix installations, they don’t ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Fitness Software
FunXtion International BV: Fitness Software
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Exercise equipment
Power Plate: Exercise equipment
Management software
Fisikal: Management software
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Locking solutions
Monster Padlocks: Locking solutions
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Property & Tenders
Greywell, Hampshire
Barnsgrove Health and Wellness Club
Property & Tenders
Derby City Council
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
06-07 Jul 2020
Eastwood Hall, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
28-31 Aug 2020
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2020
Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Coronado, United States
Diary dates
01-02 Oct 2020
Whittlebury Hall, Whittlebury, United Kingdom
Diary dates
11-12 Oct 2020
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
17-23 Oct 2020
Pinggu, Beijing, China
Diary dates
27-30 Oct 2020
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
30-31 Oct 2020
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
27-28 Nov 2020
Athena, Leicester, United Kingdom
Diary dates
23-26 Feb 2021
IFEMA, Madrid, Spain
Diary dates

features

A big welcome

For some overweight people, going to a gym or exercise class is a daunting prospect. Kath Hudson talks to gym operators specifically targeting plus-size customers with a welcoming, tailored package

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 6
many of the successful plus-size offerings are run by people who have successfully lost weight themselves

In the US and the UK, 60 per cent of people are either overweight or obese. Obesity causes many health issues including some cancers, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stress and depression. Some experts say obesity is responsible for more ill health than smoking.

Although this is a hard market for the fitness industry to reach, we are now seeing concerted efforts to meet the needs of overweight consumers. “The opening of gyms specific to plus-size people in the US is indicative of a wider change within the sector – a move towards adapting to the needs and demands of consumers and offering increasingly niche fitness facilities and programmes,” says CEO of ukactive David Stalker.

He continues: “A cultural shift has begun in the sector towards viewing people in a holistic way, and looking at the causes of an individual being overweight rather than just treating the consequences. We need to continue to build on this, through further innovation and collaboration, to reach the large percentage of the population who remain inactive.”

In the UK, we’re starting to see a change in the sort of programmes being offered. LA Fitness has partnered with Weight Watchers to link physical activity and nutrition, for example, while Nuffield Health launched a comprehensive nutritional programme in January 2013 covering everything from digestive health, through blood sugar management, to energy and stress consultations. Groups such as Nordic Walking also tie up with local healthcare providers to deliver programmes for the management of obesity and related conditions. Meanwhile Curves and Gymophobics target their marketing at women who want to get more active, but who previously may not have felt comfortable using a gym.

Complementing these efforts, the ukactive Research Institute is currently working with fitness centres across the country to build an evidence base for delivering physical activity counselling to people who may be overweight and suffering from chronic health problems, to help them make positive lifestyle changes. There’s also a rise in niche qualifications in areas such as weight management, nutrition and psychology.

Many of the successful plus-size offerings are run by people who have successfully lost weight themselves, and so understand the challenges and the fears that overweight people have about entering gyms and starting to exercise. To cover fitness alone is not enough; most providers also look at nutrition, and give counselling support too.

Here we take a look at a selection of fitness operations that have been designed specifically for overweight customers.

Body Exchange Canada

FOUNDER: Louise Green

I set up Body Exchange in Vancouver in 2008, as a lifestyle change, after having a baby. Previously I was working as a talent agent in the film industry. It was stressful and involved long hours, and I didn’t think it would mix well with motherhood.

While pregnant I gained around 45lbs, but I was still passionate about working in fitness, so I decided to target upper-size people. I did some market research and found there was nothing dedicated to this group of people in Canada. It immediately attracted a lot of media interest, so I realised it was very timely.

No-one is banned, but the language and imagery of our marketing material is targeted at upper-size people. To market the business, we’ve looked at the lifestyle patterns of our target client and have gone to them, as they won’t come to us. I call places like Weight Watchers clubs “watering holes”, as here you find larger people who are motivated to change. Doctors also refer people to us.

The programme is bootcamp-style, using equipment like resistance bands, BOSU balls and agility ladders, and is run in community-based locations. Exercise takes place either one-to-one or in classes, which vary in size from five to 25 participants. We don’t run sessions in health clubs because our customers wouldn’t enter the buildings; they take place in community halls or outdoors. Body Exchange also offers an online, customisable nutrition programme, as well as goal-setting and lifestyle coaching.

We offer a programme based on two or three days a week. To start with, people are fearful they won’t keep it up – people come with a lot of fear and lack of trust in themselves. But the sense of community in the group really builds motivation. Our customers organise hikes and snow-shoeing in the mountains together. For those who buy into our offering, retention is really good.

Some people lose huge amounts of weight and transform their bodies, while others come off their medication and are now no longer pre-diabetic. Others become more fit but don’t lose weight, because they can’t control their eating – I think we’re dealing with a lot of emotional eating. Very often obesity is just a symptom of a deeper problem. Eating is the biggest struggle for most.

I have now licensed the business, so it operates in six different communities in Vancouver, but I want to make Body Exchange a national company through licensing. Alberta, Calgary and Ontario are the first cities I want to target and, as I’m originally from the UK, I’d like to take it there.

Green has now licensed the concept
Green has now licensed the concept
Green says her clients prefer to avoid gyms
Green says her clients prefer to avoid gyms

Square One - United States

FOUNDER: Marty Wolff

Ilived 25 years of my life morbidly obese and learned many bad habits, but I always wanted something else. When I appeared on The Biggest Loser, I found my place – as well as meeting my wife.

After leaving the show 146lbs lighter, I did a lot of public speaking, which culminated in launching Square One in Omaha, US, last year. It’s a club of like-minded, larger people. Most are morbidly obese and we use a mixture of exercise, therapy, dieting and mentoring on how to tackle obstacles to help members control their triggers and cravings. Most of them have no clue about the fight they are fighting, or how to defend themselves, so we help them to build strategies.

The programme is based on a mix of research and my own experience. For example, one thing obese people tend to suffer with is an ‘all or nothing’ mentality: they think that, if they break the pattern by eating a cookie, they might as well give up that day. I compare this to spending money. If you buy one thing you haven’t planned, you don’t have to go and empty the bank account.

Many people see incredible results with weight loss, but some people simply can’t get past the emotional eating and fail to lose weight. Working out is the easiest habit to grasp, because I can watch them, but I can’t watch them when they’re at the fridge at home.

But even when people are obese, or morbidly obese, exercising can make a huge difference. Losing 8–10lbs could mean reducing or coming off blood pressure and cholesterol medication.

Recruiting members is one of the things we’re still learning how to do. The difficult part is working out how to approach people and we’re experimenting with that – targeted advertising on Facebook, for example, for those who have ‘liked’ The Biggest Loser and Weight Watchers. When compared to the industry standard, we do a really good job at retaining people. This is because we’ve created a community of people.

Square One offers packages starting at US$60 and rising to US$300 a month. Whether in the gym or in classes, PT or small group training, people always have to work under the guidance of a trainer.

Going forward we plan to franchise, initially in the mid-west of the US.

Square One sees a high rate of retention
Square One sees a high rate of retention

Buddha Body Yoga - United States

FOUNDER: Michael Hayes

I was tired of being the biggest person in my yoga class, so in 1996 I embarked on a Sivananda yoga teacher-training course in Barbados. After this, I developed my own practice and worked privately with another teacher, discovering how to get my body into the yoga postures.

Buddha Body Yoga grew out of this experimentation and is the only yoga offering I know of that caters exclusively for plus-size people. Although with my skills I could teach regular yoga, I find larger people more interesting and challenging to work with. Millions of teachers work with the slender, strong and fit, but only a handful work with big people.

I run seven classes a week at our New York studio and am just negotiating new space so I can expand my class size. Finding clients is not necessarily easy though: word of mouth and media coverage seem to be the best way, but many plus-size people remain scared to come to classes. I’ve had people register and not turn up, or arrive five minutes late but then refuse to join the class.

Once people start coming, however, retention is good because I make it fun – it’s a community with lots of jokes and playing with postures. It’s not serious like many other yoga classes can be.

Some people come because they want to lose weight, some want to be more flexible, some want to experience yoga and others like the feeling of movement. If I can stop someone hobbling, or help them move and sit more comfortably, I consider that a success.

I’d like to take the concept across the US and around the world with teacher-training. I’ve set up a certified five-day yoga teacher-training programme for working with big people, which is open to qualified yoga teachers.

Classes are taught in a light-hearted way
Classes are taught in a light-hearted way
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/HCM2013_6plus.gif
Kath Hudson talks to gym operators specifically targeting plus-sized customers with tailored, non-intimidating packages
Latest News
UK consumer confidence has improved significantly since the beginning of the lockdown, with a fifth ...
Latest News
The PGA Tour has recently bought 1,000 Whoop bands for its golfers, after PGA Tour ...
Latest News
ukactive has announced that Active Uprising and the National Summit are going digital as part ...
Latest News
Industry body ukactive has today (1 July) hosted a delegation of government and public health ...
Latest News
Health and fitness company Ingesport – which operates the GO fit chain of gyms in ...
Latest News
Mountainside Fitness in Arizona has filed a lawsuit against state's governor, Doug Ducey, after he ...
Latest News
Physical activity levels in England have continued to fall from those recorded at the initial ...
Latest News
Franchise operator Club Pilates has shown that there is growing confidence in the US fitness ...
Latest News
Fitness and athletic apparel firm Lululemon will acquire at-home fitness tech firm Mirror in a ...
Latest News
Gymbox has broken ranks and announced it will reopen all its gyms on 4 July, ...
Latest News
Stretching and fitness chain Topstretching has opened a large gym and studio on Palm Jumeirah ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Fisikal chosen as tech partner for ‘JP4’; new health app from fitness expert, Jessie Pavelka
Fitness expert and television host, Jessie Pavelka has collaborated with Fisikal, experts in digital management solutions, to create the new JP4 app, a premium 12-week personal health and fitness transformation programme that takes the user on a journey of change through four key elements of health.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: EGYM presents Corona Gym Solution, for the successful re-opening of fitness studios
Finally, the time has come: fitness and health facilities around the globe are gradually resuming operations.
Video Gallery
Temple Gym - Nautilus Equipment
Core Health & Fitness
Temple Gym - Nautilus Equipment Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: TVS Group
The TVS Group supply and install sports and fitness flooring to a wide range of ...
Company profiles
Company profile: EXF Fitness
EXF offer so much more than modular systems and pick and mix installations, they don’t ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Fitness Software
FunXtion International BV: Fitness Software
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Exercise equipment
Power Plate: Exercise equipment
Management software
Fisikal: Management software
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Locking solutions
Monster Padlocks: Locking solutions
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Property & Tenders
Greywell, Hampshire
Barnsgrove Health and Wellness Club
Property & Tenders
Derby City Council
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
06-07 Jul 2020
Eastwood Hall, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
28-31 Aug 2020
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2020
Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Coronado, United States
Diary dates
01-02 Oct 2020
Whittlebury Hall, Whittlebury, United Kingdom
Diary dates
11-12 Oct 2020
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
17-23 Oct 2020
Pinggu, Beijing, China
Diary dates
27-30 Oct 2020
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
30-31 Oct 2020
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
27-28 Nov 2020
Athena, Leicester, United Kingdom
Diary dates
23-26 Feb 2021
IFEMA, Madrid, Spain
Diary dates
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