Vintage Club Industry Magazines Reveal Health Club Concerns in the Early 1990s

The covers of two Club Industry magazines found in our offices last week.

The office I work in is moving this summer from our current downtown Boulder, Colorado, location to a new building just a few miles away.

Everyone here is preparing for the move, and we've been finding all kinds of interesting items that, in some cases, go back decades. That includes the Club Industry brand.  Club Industry inside sales representative Crystal Romberger put a few boxes of old Club Industry magazine issues on my desk last week, and I have been spending some time ever since going through some of these issues. In short, they are fantastic.

The Club Industry issues span from the 1980s to just a few years ago and about half focus on the Club Industry Show.

It has been fun to take a look back at the issues from the 1980s and 1990s to see what topics were on the minds of health club owners back then.

Some of the challenges the industry faces today are the same as back then, such as how to improve customer experience, workforce management and marketing. I pulled out a random issue of one of the boxes and one of the articles included quotes from some club managers who were asked one question at the 1991 Club Industry East Show.

The managers were asked: "If Club Industry '91 were to begin today, what single subject – more than any other – would you want to learn about?"

Here are the answers:

How to Handle Billing

"I'm trying to figure out whether to continue using an outside company to handle my billing or whether to bring the operation in-house. You can end up paying 12 percent for an outside service, and then when you add an average 10 percent loss ratio on top of that, the costs are incredible. But bringing it in-house poses questions. What's the right computer program? What are the advantages and disadvantages? I think this is a major question that's on many club owners minds today." – Mark Steinfeld, owner, Golds Gym, Howell, New Jersey.

How to Hire Peak Performers

"I'm concerned with making sure we have the best staff possible. At the last show, I attended an excellent session on 'Hiring Peak Performers' and that's still a hot subject for us. I realized that while interviewing prospective employees, I had gotten into a rut in which I found myself doing almost all the talking. In the session I learned that the interviewer should talk a maximum of 30 percent of the time , the interviewee 70 percent. I could use more tips like that." – Lynne Mulcahy, assistant general manager, New York Sports Club, Great Neck, New York.

How to Tap New Client Bases

"I'm interested in marketing techniques to reach new clients. Since we're in a hotel, most of our clients are businesspeople who stay here while traveling. I'm interested in techniques that will expand our base. One area I'd like to learn more about is telemarketing." – Marcy Myler, health club manager, Westin Hotel, Boston.

How to Improve Service

"I'm concerned with the idea of 'Building A Team, Not A Staff.' I attended a session on this at Club Industry East and found some service mentality hints that we were able to use immediately. For example, I no longer allow my staff to answer a member's question with just 'I don't know.' They must say, 'I don't know, but I'll find out for you,' or 'I don't know, but let's go ask' … The intention is that the members is going to get an answer to his or her question." – Alan Spaulding, general manager, Yorkville Total Fitness, New York City.

How to Boost Profits

"Building revenues is my number one concern. I'm always looking for new proven ideas so that I don't have to reinvent the wheel. For example, some additional programs to build profits might include providing physical therapy, deriving revenues from parties held at the club, or offering more one-on-one training. I'm also very concerned with controlling costs. But I believe that in our clubs – as in many others – costs are already under control as much as they really can be." – Terry Dezzutti, general manager, Headquarters Plaza Health & Racquet Club, Morristown, New Jersey.

The comments above are just a small sample of that slice of time in the industry. We at Club Industry think you will be interested in some of the stories and photos from these past issues. Oh, and the advertisements are quite good. We plan to post some of those spots on the website, too.

In the meantime, be sure to head over to the Club Industry Show website to see what we have planned for Chicago this October. We're very excited about the development of session programming.

What stands out to you from past Club Industry shows? For you industry veterans out there, what do you remember from the shows of the 1980s and1990s? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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