Corporate Fitness as a Profit Center for Clubs

Greg Justice is founder and creator of the original Corporate Boot Camp System and AYC Health & Fitness, Prairie Village, KS. He has mentored, taught and partnered with more than 100 trainers in seven countries, 40 states, and six Canadian provinces to provide on-site workplace corporate boot camps. You can reach him at [email protected].

Americans are used to seeing headlines and research studies that show that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic and a chronic illness crisis. Sixty percent to 70 percent of Americans are sedentary or have minimal physical activity each week, and 70 percent of the deaths in the United States occur as a result of preventable chronic illness—preventable with regular exercise and proper nutrition. Is it any wonder that those numbers are similar?

Many business owners in this country are stepping away from medicated management of chronic illness to embrace the concept of physical activity and proper nutrition for almost everybody. They are looking to corporate wellness programs for help, but fitness often is just a minimal part of most corporate wellness programs today.

Systems and logistics have come a long way in the 25 years I’ve worked in corporate wellness. However, few health club owners are talking to CEOs about starting up an exercise program on-site for their employees. That leaves a huge opportunity for smart health club owners. Why not let that health club owner be you? The members you don’t have are at work.

Although some business owners already offer gym memberships to their employees, the reality is that the people who use those gym memberships are people who would already be exercising regularly and would buy them anyway.

The purpose of corporate wellness programs is to attract people who either have or are at risk for chronic illness to begin a program of regular exercise. Those are the people who would never set foot in a gym to begin with.

Taking a wellness program to the company, perhaps by starting with a corporate boot camp, nets you with a larger participant base right off the bat, little overhead (the cost of a trainer), and one monthly or quarterly check. That’s a ready-made small business. The best part is that the people who need the health benefits that regular exercise provides may actually work out when they can do so at work.

If this approach works, it nets the CEO a larger exercising employee base, requires minimal investment when compared to overall health care costs, and improves the health of his or her employees, along with a host of other benefits that may never be measureable. Those benefits include heart attacks that never happened, the clarity and focus of that key sales person who closes the impossible sale and the employee who smiled at the customer who was irate and diffused a potential public relations disaster. These benefits are impossible to measure by scientific standards, but they are real nonetheless.

How do you set up a corporate fitness profit center in your health club?

1. Learn everything you can about corporate wellness. Become an expert in what is offered, what works, what doesn’t work and why. That is the framework into which corporate fitness fits.

2. Polish your club’s professional image to match the types of businesses you want to call on. Business owners don’t care about beautiful bodies; they want healthy employees. That doesn’t mean you have to abandon anything you are currently doing. In most cases, you can create a complimentary program that fits the image that business owners will be comfortable with.

3. Prepare a professional presentation of your fitness product/service, and have your first month’s fitness program written and ready to roll. If you rush right in without covering your bases, you’ll be spinning your wheels and wasting your time. Get it right, and you’ll get those five-figure corporate contracts.

4. Know your client. Run your corporate boot camps with the same decorum and policies of the corporate client you are serving. Regular boot camps are usually run outside in a park or a big open gym area where the instructor can yell, scream and motivate with reckless abandon. If you tried that in a corporate setting, you would probably get thrown out before your first “Drop and give me 20 push-ups.” Don’t get me wrong, you still have to bring the same energy, passion and enthusiasm; it just has to be done in a controlled manner. This is so important because one poor judgment call can cost a trainer a corporate account.

When you do these things, you are on your way to getting the five-figure contracts that are typical of corporate boot camps. If one or more of these elements is missing, you will have a gap in your credibility and expertise, and that is what the business owner wants from you—credibility and expertise.

Business owners spend a lot of money on their employees. Wages and employee benefits are the single largest cost center in most businesses. They want to know they are spending their money wisely and are seeing a return on investment with all of their purchases.

As health club owners, you have the skills to bring sedentary people back to good health. Whatever other skills you need to develop or learn to create a corporate fitness profit center are within your reach. Go for it.

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