What is in this article?:
To reach out to a new market, health clubs must make a more concentrated effort to approach members’ well-being as a whole, rather than focusing solely on exercise.
Low-impact, Big Rewards
Fitness clubs needn’t offer all the barbells and whistles of an MFA-certified facility to show their dedication to creating a healthier community. Forming a relationship with a health care provider, such as a local hospital, can bring benefits without the need to renovate, buy new equipment or hire additional staff.
Cardinal Fitness, a Chicago-based chain with 54 locations in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, became the exclusive health club partner for Silver Cross Hospital, Joliet, IL, in 2007. According to Emilie McClughen, Cardinal’s director of marketing, the relationship has been advantageous for both parties.
“Silver Cross Hospital was interested in teaming up with a large health club entity in order to provide benefits and support for their employees, physicians, volunteers and patients,” McClughen says. “It made sense for us to partner, as we are able to work together to meet the need for healthy communities by providing health and fitness education, outreach and resources.”
Through the terms of the partnership, selected Cardinal clubs offer discounted memberships to the hospital’s employees, physical rehab patients and bariatric surgery patients. This raises the club chain’s revenues from memberships while serving as an incentive for Silver Cross staff and patients.
The Silver Cross patient-members are under the supervision of their health care providers, so Cardinal didn’t have to change its programming or hire specialists to accommodate them. McClughen says the chain is confident it provides a high-level of personalized programming for all its members—whether already fit or in recovery—through its trainers.
“Our trainers are all certified and taught a science-backed program that can be tailored to each individual based on their needs,” says McClughen.
Along with member referrals, McClughen says the aim of the partnership is to increase Cardinal’s visibility in the community and ability to provide information and education to club members and potential club members.
One of the ways the partnership achieves this goal is through public health and fitness events. For instance, in an effort to raise awareness about childhood obesity, Cardinal has hosted several events at Silver Cross Field, home of Joliet’s minor-league baseball team. On certain game days, the club’s trainers invited children to run the bases and take part in exercises, and they distributed an information packet about staying active.
Although events like this no doubt help raise Cardinal’s profile in the community, McClughen says the most important benefit the chain has received from the partnership is that it allows the participating fitness centers to provide targeted education for its members.
“With Silver Cross bringing a medical component to the relationship, Cardinal Fitness is able to provide members with more information to help them fully accomplish their health goals,” McClughen says. “With the help of Silver Cross Hospital, we are able to provide diet and health information at our annual health fairs, such as advice on healthy eating.
In addition, we were able to provide low-cost health screenings to test for cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure, and body fat analysis.”