Weight Watchers International, Inc., the largest weight-management company in the world, recently combined its famous nutrition and diet programs with a remote fitness component. The company acquired Wello, an app that provides exercisers with online workouts and live classes.
“I’m impressed with Wello’s talent, their technology, and their platform to deliver personalized services,” Dan Crow, Weight Watchers chief technology officer, said in a statement. “We look forward to combining our technology and innovation capabilities to better meet the needs of today’s consumer.”
Eric Willin, COO, of EZFacility, a fitness facility management software developer, noted the growing presence of digital services in the fitness industry. “Every day, we’re seeing more and more businesses take advantage of technology to enhance exercise, increase options available to consumers, and expand their own offerings. Gyms, health clubs, and fitness centers have been at the forefront of this trend; it’s interesting to see a company like Weight Watchers taking part.”
Wello works much like the ride-sharing services that connect drivers with passengers, such as Lyft and Uber. In this case, the app makes use of browsers and webcams to connect trainers with people looking to get fit. Such digital systems offer the ability to scale quickly, providing a particular advantage to companies that use technology to provide health-management functions.
Weight Watchers is a Fortune 500 company that reported revenues of $1.72 billion for 2013.
In a move toward expanding its services, Pomerene Hospital in Millersburg, Ohio, is finalizing a deal to take over a local fitness center. The deal, still in the works, will give the hospital management over Kinetics Fitness for Life, which offers exercise equipment, studio classes, cardio programs, and wellness sessions to nearly 500 members.
According to the newspaper The Daily Record, Pomerene’s chief financial officer, Jason Justus, said during a recent hospital board meeting that managing and running the fitness center would allow the hospital to align its services with reform in the health industry, emphasizing wellness and preventative care. “With the recent passing of the ACA [Affordable Care Act] health reform, one of the changes has been extending care beyond the actual four walls of the hospital,” Justus said. “That’s the natural evolution in wellness, and this step will help us model that change.”
Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a fitness center management software developer in Woodbury, New York, said the move promised to be advantageous for all parties involved. “We have seen more and more gyms, health clubs, fitness centers, and sports facilities partnering with other kinds of institutions and businesses to deliver wellness to communities. Pomerene Hospital’s decision to manage Kinetics Fitness for Life could help bring prevention to the forefront of people’s attention, and it will be exciting to see how this partnership develops.”
The owner of Kinetics, Staush Cass, reportedly approached the hospital, saying he was seeking a community collaborator. Cass said in a statement issued by the hospital that he believes the transition will benefit the center’s current members as well as the wider community. As the agreement is still under negotiation, no decisions have yet been made regarding the details of running Kinetics, according to a the statement.
The State of New Jersey has awarded the Philadelphia 76ers $82 million in tax credits over 10 years to build a practice facility in Camden, New Jersey. The deal has been called one of the most generous in state history.
In a dollar-for-dollar exchange, the Sixers are allowed to recoup their costs, up to $82 million, for construction of a cutting-edge facility that will serve as team headquarters. Slated to occupy 120,000 square feet on Camden’s waterfront, the facility will provide practice space and equipment to the Sixers, and will include two basketball courts, a fitness training and rehabilitation space, player and coaching staff locker rooms, an audio-video review room, broadcast media facilities, a player lounge, support facilities, and office space. Eventually athletic camps for children and other, similar programming may be offered.
“The scope of this project bodes well for both parties,” said Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “The team will benefit from having a state-of-the-art space in which to train and develop as athletes. And Camden will benefit from an influx of new jobs and the presence of a facility that will draw attention and business to a depressed area.”
Officials estimate that the new facility will create 250 new jobs and hope it lures additional developers to the area. A tax revenue-strapped city, Camden could net $76.6 million over 35 years, the state predicts. According to the terms of the deal, made possible by the Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, the Sixers can use or sell the tax credits from the state as long as they employ 250 people in Camden and stay in the city for 15 years.
Naysayers have questioned how much the facility’s construction will benefit residents and whether a state struggling with budget problems should be offering large-scale tax credits that, in effect, give money away. But supporters are adamant about the facility’s potential to improve the Camden area. “It’s a catalyst for change,” said Camden’s mayor, Dana L. Redd. “I am elated for my city.”
Towson University, in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Maryland, recently announced a $34 million expansion of its recreation center.
The expansion will add 90,000 square feet to the center, known as Burdick Hall. It will include two multipurpose athletic courts, group exercise studios, and a three-lane indoor running track. The courts will be used for indoor soccer and lacrosse, and the studios will serve cycling classes, martial arts, and personal training. As it exists now, Burdick Hall contains a swimming pool, basketball courts, and a 33-foot indoor climbing wall.
“It’s always gratifying to see a university commit to improving its athletic facilities,” said Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “Doing so sends a message to students, faculty, staff, and alumni that sports and fitness are of primary importance, and it gives members of the school’s community an opportunity to work out or compete to the limits of their abilities. This addition is sure to enhance Townson’s athletics a great deal.”
Towson University fields 19 NCAA Division I varsity teams that compete in the Colonial Athletic Association. In 2013, it constructed a 5,200-seat, state-of-the-art sports arena, which hosts the school’s basketball, gymnastics, and volleyball team. The university also boasts the Baltimore metro area’s third-largest outdoor stadium and a freestanding baseball park.
The town of Castle Rock, Colorado, recently signed a letter of intent to enter into a public-private partnership with Weston Solutions, Inc., for the creation of Castle Rock Year-Round Snow Sports Center, a $5.5 million synthetic snow facility.
If constructed, the facility would feature a 107,000-square foot skiing surface, a bunny slope, a tubing run, a downhill mountain bike course, a lodge with restaurant and bar, and a dedicated parking center. The snow-like, synthetic material SnowFlex, tailored to suit Colorado’s climate, would cover the slopes.
Shawn Temple, Development Director of Weston Solutions, said in a statement, “This public-private partnership will serve as a sustainable economic driver for the local community while increasing the town’s tax base and providing a legacy of smart planning that will serve the needs of the community for generations to come.”
There has been some question about the viability of a synthetic snow facility in a state known for its skiing. “If the facility proposed by Weston Solutions is approved by the town, it’ll be interesting to monitor how it does in an area saturated with real snow sports activities,” said Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “Chances are it would thrive. Year-round skiing would introduce new people to the sport and provide daily training, better preparing consumers for actual snow. And consumers wouldn’t have to drive hours outside of Denver for skiing — it would be available 30 to 45 minutes from the city center. That will be a draw.”
The town’s letter of intent allows Weston Solutions to research the feasibility of building the facility. Town council members will review the company’s proposals every six months for up to two years; if a plan for financing the project looks viable, the council will vote on it.
California Family Fitness, Orangevale, CA, acquired two new clubs this month. The company took over Alhambra Athletic Club and Riverside Athletic Club, in Sacramento, CA, renaming them California Family Fitness Midtown Club and California Family Fitness Greenhaven Club, respectively.
The club also announced the opening of a new 32,000-square-foot downtown Sacramento club, bringing its total number of clubs to 18.
“It’s exciting to see a small club growing so rapidly,” said NAME TK, TITLE TK, of EZFacility, a health club management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “Such expansion shows that there’s room for development in the industry, and that, even in a tight economy, facilities can flourish.”
Randy Karr, president of California Family Fitness, said in a statement, “California Family Fitness is excited to expand our footprint and serve a new member base in the heart of Sacramento. We are committed to providing our members with state-of-the-art equipment, popular programs, and activities in a convenient, fun, and friendly environment.”
Last year, the company’s founders, Larry Gury and Russ Kuhn, sold almost $100 million worth of their real estate portfolio, aiming to use the money from the sale to build more clubs.
MatchPoint NYC, a new luxury sports complex, recently opened on New York City’s historic Coney Island. Now, in addition to roller coasters, ferris wheels, carnival games, and fried dough, the island offers visitors and locals alike the chance to get fit at an all-ages sports facility.
The complex comprises 120,000 square feet. Its central feature is a tennis arena with nine courts, the largest indoor tennis center in Brooklyn. Established players have been recruited to lead children’s and adults’ tennis classes, including Numrud Nino Muhatasov, who coached for the Women’s Tennis Association, and Australian Open doubles champions Alyona and Katerina Bondarenko.
A swimming program featuring a junior Olympic-sized pool and headed by 1988 Olympic Bronze medalist Konstantin Petrov is anticipated to attract attention, as is the complex’s fitness center, which offers cycling, cardio classes, yoga, Pilates, gymnastics, free weights, machines, and more.
“More and more, large-scale facilities are finding homes in areas that are already established as lively centers for entertainment, places where there’s a sense of community and fun,” said Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a sports facility management softare developer in Woodbury, New York. “Coney Island seems like a natural spot for such a facility.”
Construction on the three-acre facility began in June of last year. Owner Dimitry Druzhinsky and health club director Jason Daniels have said that their selling point will be an innovative program design matched with impeccable customer service.
In 2013, according to figures recently released by the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), Americans made more than 5 billion visits to health clubs — the first time total health club visits surpassed the 5 billion mark. Also, revenue generated by U.S. health clubs increased by 3 percent in 2013, gliding up from $21.8 billion in 2012 to $22.3 billion last year.
Health club memberships also rose in 2013. In 2012, memberships totaled 50.2 million; last year, they reached 52.9 million. The difference represents a 5 percent increase. In addition, IHRSA reported, more than 62.1 million Americans used a health club in 2013.
“Seeing the increases achieved by the health club industry in 2013 is gratifying,” says Emily Wilensky, Marketing Manager of EZFacility, a health club management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “The increases are there not only because Americans are becoming more health conscious but also because health clubs are sharpening their marketing skills, honing their services, diversifying their offerings, and making huge efforts to remain competitive. The result is a winning situation for everyone.”
In total, IHRSA said, the number of for-profit health clubs in the United States rose from 30,500 in 2012 to 32,150 in 2013.
Naperville, Illinois, a Chicago suburb ranked the second-best place to live in the United States by Money magazine and the number-one city for early retirement by Kiplinger, soon will acquire a state-of-the-art, all-season sports facility. The facility, to be called the Naperville Sports Yard, will feature two artificial-turf soccer fields, four basketball courts, a 50-meter track with six lanes, concession stands, and a day care center. Proposed for a 17.5-acre site near an office complex, the building will occupy 101,140 square feet.
Patrons will have the opportunity to purchase memberships, but the facility will offer programs for both members and nonmembers. Proposed activities will include basketball, volleyball, track, adult and youth soccer, lacrosse, seven-on-seven touch football, and a paintless paintball game.
“A facility like the one proposed for Naperville has enormous potential to satisfy the entertainment and physical activity demands of an affluent, health-conscious community,” says Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer in Westbury, New York. “Building such a venue in a city known for its early-retiree population is a strategic move.”
With one more hoop to jump through — final approval from the Naperville City Council — facility planners are waiting for the green light before launching construction, but once approval is obtained, construction is expected to be fast-tracked, and the grand-opening should occur by the end of the year. The corporation proposing the complex also operates Westmont Yard, a nearby 73,000-square-foot facility for indoor sports.
Teas A&M University is launching a renovation of its student recreation center in a project expected to total $54 million. The refurbished center, nicknamed “The Rec,” will increase from 300,000 square feet to 413,000 square feet. The overhaul will result in more weight-room space and a two-court gymnasium expansion. New multipurpose activity rooms will be added, with renovations also planned for the Rec’s swimming pools and related equipment and areas.
In addition to the new construction, 56,000 square feet of existing space will be overhauled and a new outdoor plaza will be added, along with a new second entrance and a lighting retrofit. Funding for the project will come from revenue bonds supported by the university’s recreational sports fee.
“A renovation like this is a major undertaking for a university,” says Tracey Keates, President of EZFacility, a Woodbury, New York–based gym management software developer. “It shows a commitment to student health and enjoyment, as well as to state-of-the-art facility operation. It will be exciting to see the final product.”
The university’s recreation center opened in 1995, and this will be the facility’s first major renovation since then. In the ensuing time, Texas A&M’s student body has increased by 25 percent.
The University of Michigan recently announced an $8 million plan to renovate Mitchell Field, its main outdoor athletics area. Consisting primarily of a general field and a softball field, the area will undergo a complete overhaul, with artificial turf replacing the existing lawn.
Mitchell Field averages 800 users an evening when intramural and club sports are in session, according to the University of Michigan. Rugby, flag football, ultimate Frisbee, and other sports all take place on the field, which was built in 1981. The university hopes the new artificial turf will increase usage flexibility, growing the field’s capacity and extending its operating hours and operating season.
The renovation is part of a $173 million plan to renovate the university’s unions, gyms, and athletic fields. Funding will come in part from an approved uptick in student fees.
“Athletic facilities at large universities, especially at a Big Ten school, serve a huge demand,” notes Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “Overhauls of this magnitude are occasionally necessary. The end result no doubt will allow for better water drainage, minimal field closures, and a great deal more usage.”
In addition to upgrading the field, the university will erect fences and install new lighting. The existing field house will be converted to a storage center. Ultimately, the university aims to build a new 3,200-square-foot building that holds bathrooms, on-site maintenance, and operational support.
The New York-based health club David Barton Gym will take the spotlight on Friday, March 14, as the featured employer on Inside Job, a new reality television series on the TNT network. The show sets four people together in the same living space for five consecutive days, then pits them against each other as they compete for a six-figure job at a large company. One of the four is already an employee of the company; he or she secretly reports back to a high-level executive about the three actual candidates. The end of the show reveals the candidate chosen for the job.
Howard Brodsky, David Barton Gym’s CEO, told Club Industry magazine, “I felt this was an unparalleled opportunity to give viewers an inside look at what makes David Barton Gym the most unique in the country.”
“A gym is a natural choice for the setting or subject of a reality television show,” says Emily Wilensky, Marketing Manager of EZFacility, a gym management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “There’s constant motion, a natural atmosphere of intensity, and, because people at gyms generally are working hard toward personal goals, good potential for drama. From the gym’s point of view, it’s a great way to increase awareness of and interest in your brand.”
Several years ago, the Los Angeles-based Sky Sport and Spa was featured in the Bravo show Work Out. More recently, Retro Fitness had a spot on Undercover Boss. Generally, fitness and the issues surrounding it play a big role in reality TV, with shows like The Biggest Loser, Toned Up, and Fight Girls consistently ranking among some of the most popular reality TV series.
For the Inside Job episode featuring David Barton Gym, participants had to meet two challenges to prove themselves worthy of the job the gym was looking to fill, social media director. In the first challenge, they had to design a new fitness class at the gym’s West Lost Angeles branch and market and lead the class for nonmembers. In the second, they had to work with a graffiti artist to develop a mural on the Venice Beach boardwalk that communicated the David Barton brand and then turn the mural into a social media event.
February 24, 2014 – A new indoor sports center opening next month in Harrisburg, South Dakota, will feature a 60,000-square-foot field of turf, two sand volleyball courts, and a 9,000-square-foot restaurant. The facility, Perfect Practice Sports Academy, will cater to children’s team sports. Owner Gary Sperber says that the surrounding community already has expressed a great deal of interest in the center.
“On the weekends, I bet we have 200 people here, looking at where we are and the progress, and the kids are getting excited, so it’s fun to see that,” he said. He also noted that hundreds of practice sessions have been scheduled through various organizations, and the facility is gearing up to schedule tournaments.
The addition of a restaurant is likely to attract even more customers. A venture among Perfect Practice, Sperber, and Mike O’Connor, the restaurant is called Game Changer. It will be designed by Tony Kellar, who owned a popular local restaurant that recently closed, and headed up by renowned chef Josh Kellar.
“Including a restaurant in a kids-oriented sports venue makes good business sense,” says Emily Wilensky, Marketing Manager of EZFacility, a sports center management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “Kids will have access to what sounds like state-of-the-art practice and game space, and their parents will enjoy the convenience of an on-site top-quality eating joint where the whole family can relax after an intense practice or in between tournament sessions.”
The restaurant will seat almost 300 people and will include a three-season patio. The turf field will host T-ball, flag football, and soccer, and the facility also will serve baseball, softball, basketball, and volleyball teams.
February 21, 2014 – Construction for a sports-oriented hotel and 85,000-square-foot sports facility soon will break ground in Chesterfield, Missouri. Florida-based GoodSports Enterprises Global has signed a deal with local developer Dean Wolfe to build a 130-room hotel and adjacent sports center. The complex will sit on 10 acres of a $300 million, 132-acre development area.
The concept targets two types of travelers, while also serving the local community. On weekdays, the complex will cater to businesspeople, with the sports area serving local families and sports leagues. On weekends, the facility will host tournaments, with the hotel providing a venue for athletes and their coaches and families.
“Pairing a sports facility with a sports-themed hotel is a sensible approach for a new venture,” says Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a sports management software company in Woodbury, New York. “Given the steady rise of sports tourism, a complex that caters to corporate travelers, who will also presumably have use of the facility, and to local families and traveling leagues is bound to be profitable.”
The project, said GoodSports vice president of development, will be completed next winter. It is part of a bigger thrust to build 25 similar “villages” around the country in the next few years. The Chesterfield site is the third location, after Huber Heights, Ohio, and Greenwood, Indiana.
January 24, 2014 – The Breakers, one of the top-ranked hotels in Palm Beach, Florida, has received the local zoning commission’s approval to build a new fitness center. Construction depends on the Town Council, which has the final say; if the plan goes forward, the new center will triple the size of the hotel’s current exercise area. Construction would begin around June 1 and take three to four months to complete.
The hotel’s proposal calls for a 4,190-square-foot fitness center on what is now a rooftop terrace. The center will feature an ocean view and will presumably include a wider range of exercise equipment and machinery than is currently available. The present facility occupies a 1,400-square-foot space on the ground floor and, according to The Breakers’ attorney, James Crowley of the Gunster law firm, is outdated. Meanwhile the terrace area is underused.
However, there is a dispute over the hotel’s zoning rights, because the new fitness center would bring the total size of its beach club area to about 24,000 square feet. That would exceed a 20,000-square-foot limit set by the town in 1998, when it approved demolition of a hotel ballroom and previous beach club facilities. The hotel is seeking an amendment to the zoning rules, claiming it has not yet used 11,621 square feet of accessory space granted it for “future use assignment” during the 1998 ruling.
“Exercise is quite a different thing now from what it was in 1998,” notes Tracey Keats, President of EZFacility, a fitness facility management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “Travelers to highly-rated hotels expect a certain level of health club offerings, and it’s clear why The Breakers wants to be able to meet customers’ workout needs. The proposed facility update could attract new hotel guests and keep longtime ones coming back.”
One thing in the hotel’s favor is that the new facility would pose no traffic concerns. It will be open only to hotel guests and members, attorney Crowley explained, and there is ample parking.
January 24, 2014 – Fitness First, the UK-based gym chain with branches throughout Europe and Asia, announced a £225 million brand overhaul. With more than twenty years of business under its belt, the chain is looking to upgrade its look, clubs, and customer service. The first phase of rebranding has begun, with a £1.5 million marketing campaign designed to communicate the new corporate identity to customers.
Advertisements in the new campaign position the club as “rewriting the rules of fitness.” For example, part of the overhaul includes a shift in “fitness philosophy,” with the gym pushing a freestyle fitness regime based on natural movement. An ad titled “Rule #3” features the slogan “Focus on Movement, Not on Machines.” Other ads emphasize the chain’s new embracing of shorter classes (“More Burn, Less Time”), better customer service (“Go Further for Members”), and move toward outdoor training (“With You Outdoors, Not Just on Gym Floors”).
“Fitness First’s foray into a new corporate identity speaks to larger changes within the industry,” says Emily Wilensky, Marketing Manager, of EZFacility, a gym management software developer in Woodbury, New York. “In general, focus is shifting to upgraded customer service; body weight training; shorter, more intense workout sessions; and innovations like outdoor training and greater incorporation of technology. In the light of these changes, many fitness facilities are contemplating identity updates. It will be interesting to watch Fitness First’s unfold.”
Additional initiatives for the brand overhaul include a goal for all 2,200 UK staff, “from the chief executive to receptionists,” to attain a certified fitness qualification by 2015; the establishment of a fitness test that measures gym members’ biological ages; and the creation of a fitness app that lets customers track their daily progress. In addition, the gym’s logo will change from blue to red. “…Red is the color of energy and strength,” said marketing director David Jones. “It is bold and confident and a statement of intent, and it better represents the direction we are taking.”
January 6, 2014 – Fitness industry veterans Jill Kinney and Bill McBride opened a new club at the start of 2014, rebranding the former Club One Petaluma (CA) as Active Sports Clubs. The facility will be managed by Clubsource Development Partners LLC, founded by Kinney in 2006; she serves as the company’s chairperson, and McBride is its president and CEO.
“I made the decision to launch this new company and brand because I felt it was the next step towards delivering my vision,” Kinney told the online magazine Club Industry. Her company, Clubsource, is a development business that specializes in private community centers that provide a for-profit, contemporary alternative to financially strapped neighborhoods. “I truly see our role as one of serving the community, not just the members,” she said. “To take that to the next level, it required that we disengage from the Club One brand.”
Part of the new club’s focus will be to introduce products and services to the Petaluma area, McBride explained. The club will feature a farm-to-table organic café, small group fitness programs, and a series of workshops centered around personal improvement. It also will include a weight loss program that pairs members with personal health coaches.
“Active Sports Clubs promises to establish a unique and interesting facility model,” says Eric Willin, COO, of EZFacility, a fitness center management software developer in Woodbury, NY. “It is entering into a competitive market, but with industry veterans at the helm, it looks poised to succeed.”
The company may add more clubs in 2014, but for now it will focus on its main site while exploring options for expanding.
January 2, 2014 – Plans for a new baseball and softball complex in Peoria, Illinois, have been under way for some time, but only recently was the partnership behind the complex revealed: Louisville Slugger, the 130-year-old maker of baseball and softball bats, has signed on with developers to complete the project.
Featuring 10 outdoor youth fields, plus a 125,000-square foot dome for year-round play, the new $33 million facility will be called the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex. City officials expect the complex to host between 11,000 and 12,000 games annually, approximately 10,000 games more than Peoria has been hosting for a number of years at an existing facility. Projected to have a core reach of about a 300-mile radius, the facility will also host teams from around the country, including college teams.
“When a high-profile sporting goods company decides to help fund a new, landmark venue, it’s a big deal,” says Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a sports facility software management developer in Woodbury, New York. “A deal like this one stands to benefit the company, the complex, the surrounding community, and the athletes who use the facility alike.”
Louisville Slugger products will be sold at the venue, and the atmosphere will be designed to mirror a big-league experience, with walk-out-style dugouts, bullpens, lights, electronic scoreboards, and public address systems. Over a quarter million people are expected to visit annually.
December 20, 2013 – Mossa, the Marietta, GA-based company previously known as Body Training Systems, has partnered with Xbox to create an online fitness service that could eventually lead consumers to the gym and that will promote participating health clubs. Through the partnership, Mossa has launched Xbox Fitness, a library of workout videos from top trainers and brands, including Jillian Michaels and Tracy Anderson, as well as Beachbody’s P90X and Insanity. The videos teach home users workouts they can do at their own pace and then guide them into health clubs by offering a free pass to visit Mossa group fitness classes.
“With this unique Xbox Fitness partnership and the growing popularity of our group fitness programs worldwide, we’re entering a very exciting phase of our business,” said Mossa president Terry Browning.
Emily Wilensky, Marketing Manager of EZFacility, a fitness facility management software provider in Woodbury, New York, said the partnership is an exciting development. “We’re at the dawn of an age in which home workouts are easily accessible, personal devices provide data feedback, and trainers work with their clients over Skype,” she said. “Health clubs and other fitness facilities have to find ways to integrate these new technologies. A home workout video library that encourages gym attendance is a huge plus.”
Released in November, Xbox One, the platform that allows users to access Xbox Fitness, features precision Kinect technology, which gives users immediate feedback on form, power, and heart rate. Programs currently offered include Mossa Core Workout, Mossa Fight Workout, Mossa Groove Workout, and Mossa Power Workout.
Over the next four years, participating clubs that agree to honor a free pass given to Xbox Fitness users will be promoted through Xbox One.
December 12, 2013 – Hope College, in Holland, MI, received the American Sports Builders Association (ASBA)’s Outdoor Tennis Court of the Year Award in December. The college’s Vande Poel-Heeringa Stadium Courts were selected out of 14 tennis facilities in the United States that earlier this year were recognized by ASBA for their excellence in design, construction, and renovation.
Jorge Capestany, a manager of Hope College’s tennis center, said the courts, which opened in 2012, have had a noticeable impact on the college. “The state-of-the-art Vande-Poel Heeringa Stadium Courts have already made a difference in recruiting, lesson programs, and enjoyment for the Hope tennis community,” he said.
Eric Willin, COO of EZFacility, a sports facility management software developer in Woodbury, NY, noted the significance of the award. “To be named the top tennis court facility in the country, out of thousands of facilities, is quite an honor,” he said. “The positive effects the facility has had on the college as a whole goes to show how important a solidly engineered sports center can be to local communities.”
Featuring 12 full-sized courts, and designed for competition, instruction, and casual play, the center boasts elevated seating for spectators. Earlier this year, it was named one of the top 20 tennis facilities in the country by the United States Tennis Association. It was built by local firm GMB Architects and Engineers, in consultation with Alex Levitsky of Global Sports and Tennis Design Group in Fair Haven, NJ.
November 25, 2013 – In the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACMS) annual list of fitness trends, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) took the top spot for fitness trends for 2014, knocking out of place educated and experienced fitness professionals, the trend that has topped the list for seven years. This is the first time that HIIT has appeared on ACMS’s list.
“When a trend shoots to the top during its debut year, you’ve got to stop what you’re doing and pay attention,” says Emily Wilensky, Marketing Manager of EZFacility, a health club management software developer in Woodbury, NY. “Fitness facilities that haven’t yet incorporated HIIT programming into their offerings should use this news as a prod and start strategizing ways to do so.”
A number of studies in the past year have concluded that HIIT can produce similar—and sometimes superior—gains in fitness compared with longer, more moderate-intensity training methods. Consumers have lauded the technique for the relatively low time commitment it requires and its quick and noticeable results. Some fitness professionals, on the other hand, worry that HIIT is not right for everyone, because it can lead to more injuries and higher risk of heart attack or stroke than other methods, but most acknowledge that clients are demanding it in high numbers.
Other trends to score well on ACMS’s survey include body weight training in the number 2 spot, educated and experienced fitness professionals in the number 3 spot, strength training in the number 4 spot, and exercise and weight loss in the number 5 spot.
October 31, 2013 – Chuze Fitness, a California-based health club, today announced the opening of a new facility in Garden Grove, CA. An expansion of the usual Chuze model, the new location offers the company’s typical slate of classes, including yoga, barre, pilates, zumba, kickboxing, and toning, among others, in addition to personal training, indoor cycling, a lap pool, and a Jacuzzi. The facility also features massage, tanning, a childcare center, and a cardio court.
With 12 locations throughout California and Arizona, Chuze operates on a graded pricing model, offering membership rates as low as $9.99 for month, up to $19.99 per month. The Garden Grove facility opens on Mondays at 4:30 a.m. and remains open twenty-four hours a day through Friday at 10:00 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, it opens from 6:00 a.m. through 8:00 p.m.
Chuze has built its brand on two main selling points: cleanliness and a neighborhood feel. The company prides itself on spotless facilities and on a staff that knows members’ names and make members feel at home.
“We’re starting to see a move toward more compact facilities with a localized feel, like the ones Chuze offers,” says Hugh McEvoy, Director of Sales and Operations of EZFacility, a fitness club management software developer in Bethpage, NY. “We’re curious to see how the company will grow and how it will continue to do in the competitive market it’s based in.”
Chuze has another new location slated to open in Westminster, CA, later this year.
October 31, 2013 – Crunch Fitness recently launched Crunch Live, an online fitness portal that provides users with access to virtual workouts for a monthly fee. According to the company, the new program marks the first time a national gym brand is delivering online videos of actual class formats offered in the gym.
The available videos range across types of classes, with labels that match those offered in the company’s bricks-and-mortar facilities, including Barre Assets, Rear Attitude, Gospel House Aerobics, Diesel, Yoga Body Sculpt, Fat-Burning Pilates, and Aerobics with an Attitude. Instructors are high-profile experts, such as Irini Res Eckes, a former prima ballerina; Deborah Sweets, a former Crunch member turned instructor; and Craig Smith, a well-known choreographer and dancer. Many of the videos feature actual Crunch members as back-up participants.
“Crunch Live is a digital extension of our brand and will…make Crunch classes accessible to everyone regardless of location,” said Crunch CEO Keith Worts. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to give everyone access to the evaluated workout experience our members benefit from in our gyms every day.”
“Crunch’s creation of an online library of workout videos marks the start of a trend,” says Emily Wilensky, Marketing Manager, of EZFacility, a gym management software developer in Bethpage, NY. “Such an offering is overdue, and clients who are traveling or who have difficulty carving out time to make it to the gym are likely to jump on the chance to sign up for the program. Other gyms are sure to follow suit soon, and it will be interesting to see how online workout videos grow as a source of revenue for the fitness industry.”
The online video model calls for continual updating, and Crunch plans to add new class videos on a regular basis. The program offers subscribers the ability to mark favorite class videos, create customized lists of videos based on goals or interests, and post completed workouts on personal social media pages.
October 28, 2013 – A study released recently by the Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) shows that a proposed tax credit for adults who exercise could result in $2.5 billion in health care savings. The study counters opponents’ argument that the new credit could cost Canada up to $50 million a year in losses in tax revenue.
The proposal would allow citizens to claim up to $500 on gym memberships, classes, skiing, and similar activities. On tax forms, the credit would be $75. In addition to cutting Canada’s health care costs, the credit would encourage one million more Canadians to become active, according to the FIC study.
“It will be interesting to watch how our neighbors to the north handle the question of a tax credit for physical activity,” said Eric Willin, COO, of the fitness facility management software developer EZFacility, in Bethpage, New York. “From an industry perspective, I’d want to know whether fitness facilities in the country experience an increase in membership and retention rates after the credit is in effect.”
While a children’s fitness tax credit has been in place in Canada since 2007, with the same parameters — families can claim up to $500 spent on fitness programs for a child and receive a tax credit of $75 — no statistics exist yet to show whether the credit has increased children’s participation in exercise programs, and whether health costs savings have resulted.
The campaign for an adult fitness credit was introduced in April, 2011, and supporters hope the credit will be implemented when the government’s budget is balanced, which is projected to occur in 2015.
October 4, 2013 – This fall, Spike TV will start production on a new show geared toward the fitness industry. Gym Rescue, a reality television series created to help document and fix the problems of failing gyms, will feature former Ultimate Fighting Championship winner and owner of Xtreme Couture, Randy Couture. Couture will locate struggling gyms, assess their core problems, and design solutions aimed at making them successful.
“Gyms [for the show] can be of any type: fighting or fitness, climbing, gymnastics or yoga,” Scott Hiller, the casting producer working with the show, told FightLine.com. The problems [can be] of any kind and combination too, such as failing marketing strategies, equipment in disrepair, staffing issues, poor management.”
Emily Wilensky, Marketing Manager, of EZFacility, a gym management software developer in Bethpage, New York, said the show will highlight the challenges of running a successful gym and may help gym owners around the country figure out how to turn around their own businesses. “As with any business, gym ownership and management is a challenge,” she said. “A national television show that presents the difficulties in a dramatic format and demonstrates how to analyze the problems that lead to failure, and how to fix them before failure happens, could be hugely valuable to the industry.”
Initially, Spike TV is looking for facilities in Colorado and Minneapolis and in and around Philadelphia, New York City, and New Jersey. However, Hiller stressed, the gyms featured will not be limited to those areas. Gyms owners interested in appearing on the show should contact Spike TV directly or via Facebook.