Ted Murray is a world-renowned tennis coach and author of the books Tennis Unlimited and Tennis From the Heart. For over forty years , he has been working to make sports meaningful for future generations. As a executive consultant for the tennis and health club industry, the Executive Director of the Tennis Legacy Fund, Murray is impacting Health and Fitness Clubs plan their future success.
The health club industry has played a major role in America’s emphasis on fitness and wellness. The incredible recent growth of programs like yoga and Pilates has been driven primarily through fitness clubs, perhaps more so than dedicated yoga and Pilates studios. Meanwhile the health club industry has become an established industry with magazines, trade shows, and numerous associations. Large chains such as 24 hour fitness, LA Fitness, Lifetime Fitness and numerous others have grown exponentially, often to the demise of the locally owned fitness centers.
“As much as health clubs have changed over the past 40 years I feel like they have a tremendous opportunity in the future to transform into something much more essential to the lives of every individual. I urge you to join me in looking at the crystal ball to see what the health club of the future will look like. Health clubs will move beyond their history of emphasis on body building and muscle development and will become the forefront of the entire movement in three essential areas: preventative health care, community and social interaction, and environmental awareness,” he says.
Quality clubs will become the trusted advisor for members in wellness and preventative health care. They will be affiliated with or be direct providers of numerous modalities such as rehab services, chiropractic, therapeutic massage, Ayurvedic treatments, sports psychology, cleansing, weight management, and nutritional counseling. Health coaches will be able to guide people to find their most effective ways to utilize the best services at the right time to create a completely healthy lifestyle. Instead of waiting until illness develops and treating the symptoms with drugs, the members will take full responsibility for maintaining total health in all aspects. From a financial perspective, the clubs will generate much more income from providing group and individual education and services than they will with just membership dues.
Clubs will also become the center of community and social interaction with likeminded people. Within the club setting numerous smaller interest groups will be proactively developed. It is already starting with group fitness becoming the driving force in membership retention. The smart clubs will create interest groups such as triathlon clubs, marathon clubs, volleyball clubs, hiking clubs, open-water swimming clubs, meditation clubs, reading clubs, organic gardening clubs…. the possibilities are endless. These groups will hold events, create charity fundraising opportunities, take trips and generally create innumerable opportunities for individuals and families to participate in their favorite activities with likeminded individuals. The groups will also connect with similar interest groups throughout the world to further enhance social and travel opportunities and deepen connections with like-minded individuals.
The smart health clubs will also become models of environmental responsibility. They will utilize the latest energy saving options to save money on utilities and materials. They will embrace technology to cut down on waste and will educate their members to do the same. Incentives will be provided for carpooling, riding a bike or walking to the club. Recycling will be just the start of the overall awareness of the environmental impact of each individual. Bikes and treadmills will be developed that actually produce energy as people exercise on them. Contests will be developed among clubs that measure the energy savings of both the club and its membership. The Tennis Legacy Fund is creating a process to educate and provide resources to clubs to enable them to increase their awareness of sustainability and create an environment as clean and health-promoting as possible. Soon a complete certification process will be available to enable clubs of all types to distinguish themselves in the area of sustainability.
As clubs move toward this model they will no longer be seen as merely selling machines that lock you into long term membership contracts and then hope you seldom show up because you are so frustrated with their lack of service. Instead they will become vibrant hubs for the social and intellectual as well as physical wellbeing of the entire community. They will provide the education, motivation, and tools for people to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Why don’t you join, or better yet, create the ideal health club of the future?