Prior to the start of the Summer Olympics in London last month, executives and team members from 24 Hour Fitness had lots of duties, so much so that the company pondered the notion of using a helicopter in England to get from venue to venue.
The helicopter idea might have been a pipe dream, but 24 Hour’s excitement has remained sky high for the Olympic Games, which kicked off on July 27 and run through Aug. 12. The San Ramon, CA-based company is the official sponsor of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), is the official fitness center sponsor of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams and has a partnership with USA Basketball. The day before the opening ceremonies, 24 Hour announced it had extended its sponsorship of the USOC and the Olympic and Paralympic teams through 2016.
The exposure that the Olympics provide 24 Hour through its sponsorships provides a boost to the company, says President and CEO Carl Liebert. Although he did not give specific figures, Liebert says membership numbers at his clubs ramp up in the 100 days leading up to the Olympics and also during the 100 days after the Games.
“What’s really exciting for us is that it happens both in the Winter Olympics and the Summer Olympics, so we get a really good cycle every two years,” Liebert tells Club Industry. “If you’re considering joining the gym, we have some really good hard statistics that our affiliation with Team USA, if anything, is a tiebreaker between us and another gym. We like that tiebreaker.”
Not only is Liebert representing 24 Hour in London, but the company also sent 27 fitness ambassadors to the Games from 24 Hour clubs all over the country. (See sidebar.) The company selected the ambassadors based on merit and performance, as well as their ability to help people reach their fitness goals. This year, the company expanded its ambassadorship to include district managers, fitness managers and club managers, many of whom are certified personal trainers.
The ambassadors are staffing the USOC’s High Performance Training Center (HPTC) at the University of East London Docklands. In 2008, 24 Hour Fitness sponsored and staffed the USOC’s HPTC at Beijing Normal University for the Beijing Olympic Games. Like the facility at Beijing Normal University, the new HPTC in East London will remain after the Games to serve the university’s students and faculty.
The ambassadors have been traveling to London in three waves, with the third wave arriving Aug. 1. They have been sharing their stories with their home club members through Twitter and Facebook, Liebert says.
“Each one of our clubs is a 24 Hour Fitness company unto itself,” Liebert says. “If that club manager is going to London, or if that fitness manager from that club is going to London, there’s going to be an entire following from that club. We like that local aspect.”
Two 24 Hour ambassadors in London are Mina Clouten, a club manager from Las Vegas, and Justin Ghadery, a club manager from Beverly Hills, CA. Prior to traveling to London, Clouten and Ghadery met the rest of the ambassadors from around the country in Colorado Springs, CO.
Clouten says she assisted USOC staff in putting together training areas for the USA fencing and wrestling teams and had other duties involving USA volleyball players and members of the USA boxing team.
“[Those] are all just a few of the many memories I will replay and recite for many years to come,” Clouten wrote in an email before the Games. “Being here pre- Olympics has been such a privilege.”
Besides his military combat tours, Ghadery had never traveled internationally before making the trip to London, he says. Like Clouten, Ghadery was overwhelmed when he learned he was going to the Olympics. When he arrived in London, his excitement only heightened.
“London is buzzing with the most contagious energy,” Ghadery wrote in an email prior to the Olympics. “The city looks like a Hollywood set awaiting a peak performance from a cast of Olympic athletes. It is a feeling that a picture, postcard or even an iPad cannot capture.”
Back home in 24 Hour clubs—where more than 500 Olympic hopefuls had been working out leading up to the Games— staff members have been wearing Olympic gear for their uniforms instead of their customary red shirts, Liebert says.
“It’s one more way that our members see that 24 Hour Fitness is involved with these athletes,” Liebert says. “It really helps drive the buzz that carries over into the marketplace, and we want to keep doing that.”
24 Hour Fitness Tabs Club Leaders to Staff Olympic Training Center
24 Hour Fitness selected these 27 managers and directors from its more than 400 clubs around the country as fitness ambassadors to staff the United States Olympic Committee’s High Performance Training Center in East London at the Summer Olympics:
• Kathleen Alfaro, Carlsbad, CA
• Israel Allen, Southlake, TX
• Nate Brazier, Murray, UT
• Mina Clouten, Las Vegas
• Laurie Consiglieri, Fairfield, CA
• Butch Cooper, San Ramon, CA
• E.J. Costello, Concord, CA
• Jeremy Franke, Los Angeles
• John Franklin, The Woodlands, TX
• Nastasia Genova, Lakewood, CO
• Justin Ghadery, Beverly Hills, CA
• Shawn Glowacki, The Woodlands, TX
• Josh Graves, Costa Mesa, CA
• Tiffany Kautz, Santa Clarita, CA
• Kim Keys, Costa Mesa, CA
• Rebecca Lee, Dallas
• Simon Lee, Pearl City, HI
• Josh Lyon, San Ramon, CA
• Desiree McGuire, Carmichael, CA
• Todd McWilliams, San Jose, CA
• Craig Mrozek, Southlake, TX
• Ross Paller, Omaha, NE
• Bill Righter, Salt Lake City
• Colby Summer, Portland, OR
• Maika Symmonds, Kaneohe, HI
• Kathie Ward, West Covina, CA
• Christy Wondercheck, Seattle