Mr. Green

Spas, Health & Wellness

Attract Them With Fitness... Non-traditional Facilities are the New Norm

By Bryan Green, Founder & CEO, Advantage Fitness Products

Consumers today seemingly cannot watch TV, take a stroll, or even engage in conversation with friends or family without being messaged in some way about healthcare or our greater wellbeing. One might argue that we are now experiencing a "Tipping Point" as acclaimed author Malcolm Gladwell would define it. Gladwell defines a tipping point as "a moment of critical mass or boiling point" when describing sociological changes that mark our everyday lives. As Gladwell states, "Ideas and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do." With our nation's current obesity crisis still growing, it would appear that such a viral definition of our collective requirement to exercise is still far from becoming completely infectious. However, make no mistake about it; awareness is spreading rapidly and legions of consumers are adopting varying levels of commitment to daily activity.Most experts now agree that physical fitness is the single greatest preventative medicine we have available to us. Therefore, what more current and powerful way to attract customers to your offering than to weave into the collective fabric of an increasingly fitness-conscious society?

Non-traditional fitness facilities such as those found in hotels, corporations, housing developments, and country clubs are growing rapidly in popularity and are completely redefining how and where we exercise. The traditional health club environment has many limitations. As important as these facilities are as our nation's basis for some of the best health and fitness programming available, only one in ten American's actually hold memberships to these facilities. Furthermore, typically health clubs are a revolving door of new members replacing old members that for one reason or another were unable to achieve the results they originally sought out from the gym. What might surprise you is that often this attrition level has little to do with the quality of the facility, equipment, or available instruction.

The truth is, asking folks to break from the demands of their busy lives and their daily routines to embrace fitness through a health club membership is for many, unrealistic. The solutionresides in finding ways to weave fitness into their routines and into the places that life already demands they be. Tens of Millions of consumers are desperately trying to integrate wellness into their lives now. As purveyors of fitness in non-traditional environments like hotels and resorts, we have a unique opportunity to help them in this quest for a healthier life, while simultaneously serving our own business interests.

Consider the following critical factors as they relate to the elevating importance of non-traditional offerings in fitness:

Convenience & Accessibility

Again, exercise isn't inherently convenient for most of us. For those who haven't easily adopted activity within their daily lives, exercise requires an allocation of time, perhaps at the expense of other components of an already demanding schedule.. Typically our jobs, school or families are time-demanding enough. Integrating two or more hours necessary to travel to and from the gym and get a workout in can be a daunting proposition. This is why fitness needs to be as convenient as possible. There's no doubt that more of us would embrace fitness, if only our workplace featured a fitness center where we could exercise at lunch or before or after work without the need for yet another commute to a health club. Same goes for apartment or condo communities where residents merely walk over to the fitness center where they can interact with neighbors and friends while exercising. By natural extension, hotels and resorts can offer this same convenience factor to business travelers and vacationers. The hospitality industry also enjoys the element of captivity, where guests are seeking ways to fill their downtime and don't have the typical alternatives afforded to them at home.

The solution isn't found in merely one or the other of these non-traditional locations, but rather in them collectively. It's the availability and diversity of these options for consumers that will serve to integrate a consistent exercise routine into their lives. Thus, a successful and well- established offering in fitness will insure that they are spending part of that journey with you


A factor that impedes use of health clubs is certainly cost. Not simply the membership itself, but the costs associated with transportation and certainly the value one puts on one's time. Beyond a focus on costs, it's important for business owners to take into account that a corporate-fitness program may have significant impact on employee health and attendance, productivity and performance, and hence will result in a boost to profits. Add to this the positive effect on lower insurance premiums; many employers are working feverishly to intergrate these offerings. For other environments that aren't everyday alternatives such as a hotel, economic value is predominately realized through the attraction of wellness-minded guests, retention of existing customers, and in some cases revenue-driving measures such as retail sales of healthy convenience food items, workout accessories, and personal- or group-training services.

Inclusive and Connected

As we've stated, health clubs are dominated by the 10 percent of America that's already made fitness a component of their lifestyle. This can make it a bit intimidating for the newcomer who enters this fray of exercise-motivated and healthy members. Establishing motivation and momentum in a fitness regimen is tough as it is. The concept of "inclusiveness" for non-traditional environments is a vastly underrated and often-overlooked benefit. There's a shared "community" that's far stronger and significantly easier to target with co-workers in a corporate fitness facility or neighbors in a residential community fitness center, than typically exists among those attending commercial health clubs. For hotels and those with similar and tailored offerings in fitness, there's a shared camaraderie and similar experience available amongst guests. They are either taking a break from the business-travel rat race for a needed escape through exercise, or staying true to a commitment to fitness even amidst a well-deserved vacation.

Make it Fun

Another common shortcoming with large health clubs and other traditional facilities is with poor planning or limited user direction, they can be pretty boring. A sea of available exercise equipment and accessories does not equate to a stimulating or motivational exercise environment. Considerations for entertainment integration, interactive-exercise gaming or sport-specific training elements are several contemporary ways to make fitness fun. It's often easier for a non-traditional environment to accomplish this, as you don't have to be everything to everyone like a big box health club aspires to be. You can tailor the features of your facility to the more-specific needs of your audience. This is where retention statistics escalate significantly.

One thing is for certain, the demand for fitness and wellness-based programming is only going to increase. Those facilities that embrace this growing demand with tailored solutions for their customers are going to reap the benefits.

All fitness facilities need to start with a plan and remain flexible to continually create and support such a dynamic environment. Fitness trends are consistently changing, and an offering in fitness certainly cannot be viewed as a one-time investment in fitness equipment and build out. However, the upside for the operator is that fitness is a consistent and sustainable driver for customer acquisition and retention, customer satisfaction, and incremental revenue that offsets costs and supports your bottom line.

The tipping point has been reached. What side of the fulcrum are you on?

Bryan Green is a wellness industry entrepreneur and fitness facility design expert. He has overseen the development of training facilities for Fortune 100 companies, global hospitality flags, health clubs, specialty studios, universities, and professional sports teams. Mr. Green founded Advantage Fitness Products (AFP) in 1997 to meet the growing demand for consultative support and supply of non-traditional wellness facilities beyond the larger health club chains. Mr. Green established FitnessDesignGroup® in 2001 to serve as a specialized consultancy for early stage planning and design for commercial fitness facilities of all types. The company has since evolved to provide project management services, and today foundationally supports both AFP and the Aktiv Solution divisions towards their client facility design requirements. Mr. Green can be contacted at 310-559-9949 Ext: 110 or Extended Bio... retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
General Search:

SEPTEMBER: Hotel Group Meetings: Blue Skies Ahead

Jay Spurr

Meeting planners have more than enough to think about when it comes to searching for the perfect venue – and eco-consciousness is increasingly making its way top of mind for many. It is currently estimated that the average hotel guest generates 2.2 pounds of waste each night of their stay. And, with the meetings and event industry recently being deemed as the second most wasteful sector in the United States by the EPA, we at JW Marriott Austin knew we had to go above and beyond to deliver more efficient meetings and events with the lowest possible carbon footprint. READ MORE

Del Robinette

Engagement and commitment are at the core of our professional lives in a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week operation. No matter the size or complexity of the box, engagement and our commitments should be a core fundamental that not only surfaces in our every interaction, but guides and directs our proactive decision making and our strategies and executions. Hospitality 101 teaches us as hospitality professionals, to engage with our guests, to make eye contact at 10 feet, to speak within 5, to escort when possible and to use our guests name in conversation. READ MORE

Katie  Davis

I had a bit of an “out of body” experience recently. I was attending a corporate meeting, which was held in a hotel meeting room. As usual, I was multi-tasking for most of the meeting. Doing my best to remain engaged with the meeting content, while simultaneously managing an ever-growing email inbox and “To Do” list. During a break, I was pacing outside the meeting room, on the phone with my office, when I noticed some snacks and beverages set-up adjacent to the meeting room entrance. READ MORE

Deirdre Martin Yack

Meeting planning in today’s world is more complex than ever. Whether you’re a planner or a supplier, our jobs are now 24/7. We are dealing with shorter lead times than ever, tighter budgets (on both sides), and expectations based on the perfection projected by social media and reality TV. Our job is no longer simply about dates, space, rate – we now need to compete at a world-class level on a daily basis. As a supplier, it takes extreme creativity at the venue level. Starting with the initial design, event space must be as flexible, innovative and as Instagram-worthy as possible. READ MORE

Coming Up In The October Online Hotel Business Review

Feature Focus
Revenue Management: Technology and Big Data
Like most businesses, hotels are relying on technology and data to drive almost every area of their operations, but perhaps this is especially true for hotel Revenue Managers. There has been an explosion of technology tools which generate a mountain of data – all in an effort to generate profitable pricing strategies. It falls to Revenue Managers to determine which tools best support their operations and then to integrate them efficiently into their existing systems. Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, and Online Reputation Management software are basic tools; others include channel managers, benchmark reports, rate shopping tools and review systems, to name a few. The benefits of technology tools which automate large segments of a Revenue Manager’s business are enormous. Freed from the time-consuming process of manual data entry, and having more accurate data available, allows Revenue Managers to focus on analysis, strategies and longer-term decision-making. Still, for most hotels, the amount of data that these tools generate can be overwhelming and so another challenge is to figure out how to effectively utilize it. Not surprisingly, there are some new tech tools that can help to do exactly that. There are cloud-based analytics tools that provide a comprehensive overview of hotel data on powerful, intuitive dashboards. The goal is to generate a clear picture, at any moment in time, of where your hotel is at in terms of the essentials – from benchmarking to pricing to performance – bringing all the disparate streams of data into one collated dashboard. Another goal is to eliminate any data discrepancies between finance systems, PMS, CRM and forecasting systems. The October issue of the Hotel Business Review will address all these important developments and document how some leading hotels are executing their revenue management strategies.