In addition to concerns about supplement safety, Jasmine Jafferali, health and well-being director for Proactive Partners, a division of TCA Holdings, Chicago, also is concerned that branded supplements divert club companies’ attention from their primary business.

“[Health clubs] need to focus on exercise, personal training, post-rehab fitness, not getting into branding their own supplements,” says Jafferali, who has led seminars about supplements at Club Industry conferences. “If they want to purchase other supplements, sell them in their shop, that’s fine. But they shouldn’t be making our supplements and protein shakes. They’re getting out of the scope of their practice. They’re going to spend money on their own supplements when they should be creating better fitness and exercise programs for their club.”

That’s why management at The Rush Fitness Complex, Knoxville, TN, leaves supplements to those with expertise in the area. The Rush partners with an Internet-based weight loss and dietary supplement company so its members can buy products online. The partner ensures that members get everything that they need from a multivitamin and meal replacement perspective, says Don Bertsch, a spokesperson for The Rush.

“Our goal is not to compete with all of the other health food and supplement stores,” Bertsch says. “Instead, we want to be excellent at providing the best workout environment with all of the services needed to have our members see success.”

Matt Terry, personal training department head for Life Time, has no doubt the company offers legitimate, worthy products that are top-notch.

“For some clubs, [selling supplements and weight loss products] is a sheer profit thing, and they are producing an inferior product,” says Terry. “With Life Time, [our employees] have a voice in what we want. We want what offers the best value and the best quality. People want supplements, and we arm our members with the best.”

Still, some unnecessary supplements are being sold, Whitthorne says, noting, in particular, protein supplements.

“By and large, there are a lot of people spending a lot of money on things that aren’t generating that much benefit,” Whitthorne says.

Considering only three in 10 adults in America get the recommended weekly physical activity, according to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the majority of people taking SNWL aren’t athletes— they are people looking for a shortcut, Whitthorne says.

“Most people think this: ‘I’m going to do this—whatever this is—for a prescribed period of time. I’m going to get down to my ideal weight or where I want to be. Then, I’m going to change my lifestyle. Once I get there, I’m going to start doing everything right,’” Whitthorne says. “It never works that way. Ever.”

In the end, supplements should be just one part of the health equation, he says.

“For us, ‘supplements’ is a perfect name,” Whitthorne says. “They need to supplement your diet. There’s no weight loss fat burner or post-exercise nutrient that will suddenly make you a better athlete.”

Still, the market for supplements— both good and bad—is out there, and club companies are increasing their revenues by retailing these products. And, for those that have recognizable names and the finances needed in order to get into supplement development and manufacturing, a private label brand of supplements can add even further to that bottom line.