The Best Approach To Providing Recovery Services

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This week, the IHRSA blog asks an interesting question: What is the industry standard when it comes to recovery services for members? How much is too much (or is there even, in this case, such a thing as “too much”)? What kinds of services should clubs offer, and how are they best implemented?

Christine Thalwitz, Director of Communications and Research at ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers, points out that it’s very common for fitness facilities to offer in-house massage and physical therapy services. These days, she says, a lot of clubs also offer acupuncture, aromatherapy, or chiropractic services, often through partnerships with local practitioners. But, what is the best approach to providing recovery services? Amenities should be FDA approved and meet safety standards, she cautions, and should be administered only under the direction of a qualified professional. The way to determine whether they’re the right services for your club, she says, is to measure their effects on your members. “While offering new and interesting products and services will capture the attention of your members and prospects, it is the ongoing satisfaction and positive outcomes that will determine the long-term success of the offering,” she says.

She has another good piece of advice too: “The types of amenities and services clubs adopt should be consistent with their mission, audience demographics and service model.” This might seem obvious, but given our culture’s “more is better” tendencies and the pressure to outshine competitors, it can be easy to pile on services your target audience does not necessarily want or need, or your mission does not call for. If you’re primarily a center for weight loss, do you need an aromatherapist on site? But if you’re a facility that, say, caters to the overall health and well-being of women, offering aromatherapy would probably be a good choice for you.

If you’re considering adding some recovery services but are unsure what would best suit your facility, poll your members. Ask them what they want to have on-site; you might think they’re looking for a chiropractor, when what they really long for is a certified physical therapist. When you get their answers, run with them; provide what they’re looking for (if you’re in a position to do so) and forget about the other extras. They’ll thank you for it.

At the same time, guard against getting caught up in the push to provide such services. Focusing on core competencies is sound business practice, and if you’re distracting yourself from providing the best basic services you can — safe, effective workout equipment, great classes, high-quality trainers — then all the recovery services in the world won’t mean a thing. Do what you do best first; discriminately add on other things later.

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