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Health Club Management

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features

A place in our hearts

My Sportlady has forged an invaluable place in the lives of women in Munich and beyond. Ray Algar reports

By Ray Algar, Gymtopia | Published in Health Club Management 2015 issue 11
My Sportlady founder Jasmin Kirstein 
(second from left)
My Sportlady founder Jasmin Kirstein (second from left)
During the financial crisis, Kirstein decided members could simply pay what they could afford until they secured new jobs

This month I want to share the remarkable story of how the My Sportlady independent club based in Munich, Germany, is harnessing its altruistic purpose to forge meaningful connections with members as well as the wider community.

Why feature My Sportlady?
Given that there are more than 48,000 fitness clubs and centres across Europe (source: EuropeActive), I’m always fascinated as to why a minority of clubs have a reputation far beyond their operating borders. These days, most clubs typically possess similar resources (skilled people, equipment, facilities, programmes and so on) – globalisation has seen to that – so why does the story and mission of a 2,000-member, women-only club in Germany spread?

A purposeful club
Since Jasmin Kirstein founded the club in 1984, its core purpose – as a special place for women that helps to foster a healthy work-life balance – has remained constant. While budget gyms and boutique studios sprout up around the club, My Sportlady has remained focused on how it can continue to create long-term value, not just for its members but also for women across Munich and beyond.

While possessing all the paraphernalia of other 2,000sq m fitness clubs, it operates more as a centre for cultivating life skills than a typical fitness club. As an example, its cooking school helps members understand the importance of nutrition and healthy eating. The club exists not simply to support a woman’s need for physicality, but also to offer her independence, tranquility and acceptance.

Pay what you can afford
Although most people in Munich are now employed, this was not the case during the global financial crisis, and members began coming to the club to cancel their memberships. Kirstein did not believe this was the right thing for her members to be doing – not visiting a club that some had belonged to for many years would just provide more instability in their lives. So she decided these members could use the club for free, or simply pay what they could afford until they secured new jobs.

Further compassionate acts are evident when members face serious illness, like cancer. After such a diagnosis, a member typically approaches the club to cancel their membership, believing they will be too unwell to attend. However, My Sportlady waives the membership fee during treatment and encourages the member to visit the club when they believe a visit would be beneficial. Members may visit only once in a month, but they know the club is there to support them.

This capacity for a club to simply do what intuitively feels right resonates with all the club’s stakeholders. It’s one reason why staff say they choose to work at My Sportlady over other clubs. Why? They simply feel immense pride in working for such a compassionate business.

My Sportlady Foundation
A separate not-for-profit organisation was set up in 2009 to co-ordinate the club’s growing philanthropic activities. The Foundation’s mission is to help women and children across Germany and overseas.

‘Eat for Smart’ is one of its programmes, offering free nutrition courses at schools and kindergartens across Munich. This programme is now supported by the local government and health insurers. Other programmes – this time overseas – provide support to orphanages in Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

The rationale for the Foundation is that the business should be more than “just a members’ club”, using its influence and expertise beyond the walls of the club.

Supporting mums
For the past five years, My Sportlady has been supporting mothers whose children are receiving cancer treatment at a nearby hospital. The children’s hospital is a centre of excellence and so attracts families from across Germany, with the mothers living between the hospital and a nearby hotel. My Sportlady therefore came up with the idea to provide complimentary access to the club. The hospital issues a ‘club prescription’ which mothers redeem at the club. This allows them precious time to suspend, just for an hour or so, the distress of witnessing a child battle with cancer.

A desire to help others
When trying to understand what motivates a business to put the interest of people before short-term profit, it often helps to look back into the founder’s life journey. In Kirstein’s case it was the experience of seeing her young daughter, Anna-Marisas, battle leukaemia. Her daughter made a full recovery, but it left Kirstein with a profound sense of gratitude and perspective. Anna-Marisas went on to pursue a career in nutrition science and now runs the Eat for Smart initiative.

Would this club be missed?
The test of a remarkable club is knowing members, staff and the wider community would genuinely miss it if it were to permanently close – not simply a temporary sense of frustration as an alternative is sourced, but profound disappointment. This special affinity is no random act of good fortune at My Sportlady, but instead the result of a persistent determination to forge a relevant place in the lives of women.

What’s your club’s story?
Among the ocean of clubs and fitness offers, what is your business doing to stand for something and use its influence to create meaningful change? If you’ve made a difference, share your story on Gymtopia and see how remarkable things spread.

IN A NUTSHELL

Project by: My Sportlady, Germany

Web: www.my-sportlady.de

Charities supported: Numerous

Project status: Ongoing and long-term

Impact: Germany and overseas

Gymtopia keywords: Clothing and shelter, education, food & nutrition, health & wellbeing

Gymtopia

a place where clubs do social good

Chief Engagement Officer Ray Algar
Chief Engagement Officer Ray Algar

Gymtopia was conceived by founder and chief engagement officer Ray Algar, who believes the global health and fitness industry has enormous influence and potential to do good in the world, beyond its immediate customers.

The idea of Gymtopia is simple: to curate and spread remarkable stories in which the fitness industry uses its influence to reach out and support an external community in need. It was created with the generous support of five organisations: Companhia Athletica, Gantner Technologies, Les Mills, Retention Management and The Gym Group. Gymtopia received an Outstanding Achievement Award in the ukactive Matrix Flame Awards 2014.

Read more stories and submit your own: www.Gymtopia.org

Member fees are suspended if a user is being treated for an illness
Member fees are suspended if a user is being treated for an illness
The Foundation supports projects in Myanmar and Sri Lanka
The Foundation supports projects in Myanmar and Sri Lanka
The Foundation supports projects in Myanmar and Sri Lanka
The Foundation supports projects in Myanmar and Sri Lanka
The Foundation supports projects in Myanmar and Sri Lanka
The Foundation supports projects in Myanmar and Sri Lanka
‘Eat for Smart’ is one of the Foundation’s charitable programmes, offering free nutrition courses at schools and kindergartens across Munich
‘Eat for Smart’ is one of the Foundation’s charitable programmes, offering free nutrition courses at schools and kindergartens across Munich
‘Eat for Smart’ is one of the Foundation’s charitable programmes, offering free nutrition courses at schools and kindergartens across Munich
‘Eat for Smart’ is one of the Foundation’s charitable programmes, offering free nutrition courses at schools and kindergartens across Munich
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/310185_507168.jpg
Building a business around doing good – Jasmin Kirstein's MySportlady club proves it's possible
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features

A place in our hearts

My Sportlady has forged an invaluable place in the lives of women in Munich and beyond. Ray Algar reports

By Ray Algar, Gymtopia | Published in Health Club Management 2015 issue 11
My Sportlady founder Jasmin Kirstein 
(second from left)
My Sportlady founder Jasmin Kirstein (second from left)
During the financial crisis, Kirstein decided members could simply pay what they could afford until they secured new jobs

This month I want to share the remarkable story of how the My Sportlady independent club based in Munich, Germany, is harnessing its altruistic purpose to forge meaningful connections with members as well as the wider community.

Why feature My Sportlady?
Given that there are more than 48,000 fitness clubs and centres across Europe (source: EuropeActive), I’m always fascinated as to why a minority of clubs have a reputation far beyond their operating borders. These days, most clubs typically possess similar resources (skilled people, equipment, facilities, programmes and so on) – globalisation has seen to that – so why does the story and mission of a 2,000-member, women-only club in Germany spread?

A purposeful club
Since Jasmin Kirstein founded the club in 1984, its core purpose – as a special place for women that helps to foster a healthy work-life balance – has remained constant. While budget gyms and boutique studios sprout up around the club, My Sportlady has remained focused on how it can continue to create long-term value, not just for its members but also for women across Munich and beyond.

While possessing all the paraphernalia of other 2,000sq m fitness clubs, it operates more as a centre for cultivating life skills than a typical fitness club. As an example, its cooking school helps members understand the importance of nutrition and healthy eating. The club exists not simply to support a woman’s need for physicality, but also to offer her independence, tranquility and acceptance.

Pay what you can afford
Although most people in Munich are now employed, this was not the case during the global financial crisis, and members began coming to the club to cancel their memberships. Kirstein did not believe this was the right thing for her members to be doing – not visiting a club that some had belonged to for many years would just provide more instability in their lives. So she decided these members could use the club for free, or simply pay what they could afford until they secured new jobs.

Further compassionate acts are evident when members face serious illness, like cancer. After such a diagnosis, a member typically approaches the club to cancel their membership, believing they will be too unwell to attend. However, My Sportlady waives the membership fee during treatment and encourages the member to visit the club when they believe a visit would be beneficial. Members may visit only once in a month, but they know the club is there to support them.

This capacity for a club to simply do what intuitively feels right resonates with all the club’s stakeholders. It’s one reason why staff say they choose to work at My Sportlady over other clubs. Why? They simply feel immense pride in working for such a compassionate business.

My Sportlady Foundation
A separate not-for-profit organisation was set up in 2009 to co-ordinate the club’s growing philanthropic activities. The Foundation’s mission is to help women and children across Germany and overseas.

‘Eat for Smart’ is one of its programmes, offering free nutrition courses at schools and kindergartens across Munich. This programme is now supported by the local government and health insurers. Other programmes – this time overseas – provide support to orphanages in Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

The rationale for the Foundation is that the business should be more than “just a members’ club”, using its influence and expertise beyond the walls of the club.

Supporting mums
For the past five years, My Sportlady has been supporting mothers whose children are receiving cancer treatment at a nearby hospital. The children’s hospital is a centre of excellence and so attracts families from across Germany, with the mothers living between the hospital and a nearby hotel. My Sportlady therefore came up with the idea to provide complimentary access to the club. The hospital issues a ‘club prescription’ which mothers redeem at the club. This allows them precious time to suspend, just for an hour or so, the distress of witnessing a child battle with cancer.

A desire to help others
When trying to understand what motivates a business to put the interest of people before short-term profit, it often helps to look back into the founder’s life journey. In Kirstein’s case it was the experience of seeing her young daughter, Anna-Marisas, battle leukaemia. Her daughter made a full recovery, but it left Kirstein with a profound sense of gratitude and perspective. Anna-Marisas went on to pursue a career in nutrition science and now runs the Eat for Smart initiative.

Would this club be missed?
The test of a remarkable club is knowing members, staff and the wider community would genuinely miss it if it were to permanently close – not simply a temporary sense of frustration as an alternative is sourced, but profound disappointment. This special affinity is no random act of good fortune at My Sportlady, but instead the result of a persistent determination to forge a relevant place in the lives of women.

What’s your club’s story?
Among the ocean of clubs and fitness offers, what is your business doing to stand for something and use its influence to create meaningful change? If you’ve made a difference, share your story on Gymtopia and see how remarkable things spread.

IN A NUTSHELL

Project by: My Sportlady, Germany

Web: www.my-sportlady.de

Charities supported: Numerous

Project status: Ongoing and long-term

Impact: Germany and overseas

Gymtopia keywords: Clothing and shelter, education, food & nutrition, health & wellbeing

Gymtopia

a place where clubs do social good

Chief Engagement Officer Ray Algar
Chief Engagement Officer Ray Algar

Gymtopia was conceived by founder and chief engagement officer Ray Algar, who believes the global health and fitness industry has enormous influence and potential to do good in the world, beyond its immediate customers.

The idea of Gymtopia is simple: to curate and spread remarkable stories in which the fitness industry uses its influence to reach out and support an external community in need. It was created with the generous support of five organisations: Companhia Athletica, Gantner Technologies, Les Mills, Retention Management and The Gym Group. Gymtopia received an Outstanding Achievement Award in the ukactive Matrix Flame Awards 2014.

Read more stories and submit your own: www.Gymtopia.org

Member fees are suspended if a user is being treated for an illness
Member fees are suspended if a user is being treated for an illness
The Foundation supports projects in Myanmar and Sri Lanka
The Foundation supports projects in Myanmar and Sri Lanka
The Foundation supports projects in Myanmar and Sri Lanka
The Foundation supports projects in Myanmar and Sri Lanka
The Foundation supports projects in Myanmar and Sri Lanka
The Foundation supports projects in Myanmar and Sri Lanka
‘Eat for Smart’ is one of the Foundation’s charitable programmes, offering free nutrition courses at schools and kindergartens across Munich
‘Eat for Smart’ is one of the Foundation’s charitable programmes, offering free nutrition courses at schools and kindergartens across Munich
‘Eat for Smart’ is one of the Foundation’s charitable programmes, offering free nutrition courses at schools and kindergartens across Munich
‘Eat for Smart’ is one of the Foundation’s charitable programmes, offering free nutrition courses at schools and kindergartens across Munich
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/310185_507168.jpg
Building a business around doing good – Jasmin Kirstein's MySportlady club proves it's possible
Latest News
Mid-market health club operator Total Fitness has acquired Pro-Fit Personal Training. The deal follows a ...
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PureGym is set to become the second largest fitness operator in Europe, after revealing plans ...
Latest News
The Glass House Retreat, a new eco-friendly health and wellness retreat, has opened in Bulphan, ...
Latest News
A large-scale study on genetics has shown that being more physically active reduces the risk ...
Latest News
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Job search
POST YOUR JOB
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Harlands Effect: Make Your Business More Profitable
Harlands Group is a membership management service for health and fitness operators, which interacts directly with members to effectively manage membership payments.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: GLL chooses Ethitec’s Tiara9 system for its exercise-based public health referral schemes
The Tiara9 system has been selected by leisure trust, GLL, to support the nationwide rollout of its Healthwise GP referral programme.
Video Gallery
DFC: We do more...
DFC
DFC are a leading direct debit collection company, providing cash flow solutions to happy clients from all over the UK. Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: MoveGB
Move is the fitness marketplace connecting our partners with customers through the largest variety of ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Keiser UK Ltd
Keiser began its history of visionary sports science leadership over 40 years ago, rejecting the ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Management software
GymSales: Management software
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Fitness equipment
Healthcheck Services Ltd: Fitness equipment
Fitness software
Go Do.Fitness: Fitness software
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Spa software
ResortSuite: Spa software
Lockers/interior design
Fitlockers: Lockers/interior design
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Exercise equipment
EXF Fitness Equipment: Exercise equipment
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
21-23 Jan 2020
Harrogate Convention Centre, Harrogate, United Kingdom
Diary dates
28-30 Jan 2020
Ericsson Exhibition Hall, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
29-30 Jan 2020
Holiday Inn San Francisco-Golden Gateway, San Francisco, United States
Diary dates
23-25 Mar 2020
Hilton, Barcelona, Spain
Diary dates
25-26 Mar 2020
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Diary dates
19-24 Apr 2020
tbc, Beijing, China
Diary dates
04 Jun 2020
Marriott Forest of Arden Hotel & Country Club, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
10-27 Jun 2020
tbc, Pinggu, China
Diary dates
13 Jun 2020
Worldwide, Various,
Diary dates
17-18 Jun 2020
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2020
Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Coronado, United States
Diary dates
30-31 Oct 2020
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
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