We don't talk much about the science of exercise and nutrition in the pages of Club Industry, we leave that to the more qualified science- and medical-based journals. But we do talk about the impact such scientific findings can have on facilities' business.
And new scientific findings can impact a facility's revenue in numerous ways. Be it how core exercises have become the industry's new golden exercise, used almost exclusively by personal trainers in some settings. (Did anyone even have stability or medicine balls on their fitness floor five years ago? And if you did, was anyone using them?) Or when a recent study showed that lat pull-downs to the front were not only safer for shoulders but also incorporated better muscle recruitment, did your training staff know about that as quickly as club members who are constantly scouring magazines and the Internet for fitness information? Maybe it is the latest nutritional findings for muscle growth and body fat reduction or the safety of top-selling supplements that have been “prescribed” (or the more preferred “recommended”) by your fitness or nutrition staff or sold in your pro shop.
Take for example the latest scare caused by ephedrine last month when Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect Steve Bechler died of heatstroke. A bottle of Xenadrine was found in his locker leading to renewed calls to remove the supplement from store shelves. Did the supplement have a hand in killing him? At the time of this writing that is still inconclusive. But Bechler did have a number of contraindicated health conditions and allegedly used the supplement in excessive dosages while dieting to extremes.
The rally cry against this supplement really can have a big impact on the industry in a number of ways.
First, the scrutiny can lead to increased liability for clubs that either sell these products or have staff members recommend them to clients and members. And if they are recommending them, are they getting complete medical information beforehand? Do they know what to look for?
We have covered the topic of selling nutritional supplements as an added profit center and by most accounts it seems like a natural tie-in with the other methods of achieving fitness that health clubs sell. And despite the backlash still believe it is a viable profit center…with the caveat that education for staff and members alike is key.
We are seeing a trend whereby clubs are taking the initiative to keep their staff members up to date on the latest in health and fitness. If your club is doing this then you are a step ahead of the game. If not, you can start simply by subscribing to as many fitness publications as possible, be it scientific, business or mainstream fitness, and starting a library for your staff. The more your sales, front desk and other staff know the greater customer service your organization can provide. Send your staff to as many educational events as possible or at least offer the opportunity to your staff — or maybe as added incentive or a reward for good work.
But don't stop there. Have your staff take that education to your members and to the general public to help them sort out the “real” truth from “Internet” truth that will help reinforce the education your staff has received but will also set them apart as true experts in the field boosting your business and your reputation.
Knowledge truly is power.