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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

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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
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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
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Global boutique fitness giant Xponential Fitness has appointed Michael Abramson, president of D1 Sports Training, ...
Latest News
Physical fitness has been associated with better brain structure and brain functioning in adults. The ...
Latest News
The UK fitness industry should make a concerted effort to highlight the importance of strength ...
Latest News
Saudi Arabia-based Leejam Sports Company has appointed former Bannatyne Group chief executive Justin Musgrove as ...
Latest News
Disability organisation Purple has claimed that health club operators and gyms are losing "millions of ...
Latest News
New Barnet Leisure Centre in North London has become the second new facility to open ...
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Four Seasons has teamed up with fitness expert and Four Seasons Global Fitness Advisor Harley ...
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Self Esteem Brands, the parent company of Anytime Fitness, has purchased The Bar Method – ...
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Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Dyaco grows UK business with new headquarters and key appointment
Following a year of strong growth, leading fitness equipment provider Dyaco has moved to a new UK headquarters in Milton Keynes, marking a significant milestone for the company.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: The secrets to designing a stand-out fitness studio
The design and construction of a group fitness or exercise studio can have a big impact on the success of your gym.
Company profiles
Company profile: Ecore
Ecore transforms reclaimed materials into unique performance surfaces that make people’s lives better. Ecore has ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Netpulse
Founded in 2001, Netpulse is the world’s number one provider of branded mobile apps for ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Management software
Fisikal: Management software
Governing body
EMD UK: Governing body
Audio visual
Hutchison Technologies: Audio visual
Locking solutions
Ojmar: Locking solutions
Member access schemes
Move GB: Member access schemes
Direct debit solutions
Debit Finance Collections: Direct debit solutions
Lockers/interior design
Craftsman Quality Lockers Ltd: Lockers/interior design
Professional services
Deloitte UK: Professional services
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
21-22 Sep 2019
Locations worldwide,
Diary dates
23-26 Sep 2019
JW Marriott Turnberry Resort & Spa, Miami, United States
Diary dates
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