Making Things Happen for the Client and the Business, Part 1

As health and fitness professionals, your responsibilities go beyond just promoting fitness. When it comes right down to it, you’re in the business of making things happen. If a client wants to lose weight and lower their risk of cardiovascular disease, you devise a program that works for them. If someone is training for their first marathon, you provide the programming and motivation that helps them succeed. In other words, you are promoters of action.

And while getting people to take initial action is not overly difficult, motivating them to sustain that action is the core challenge of running a fitness facility. In this, the third year of the nova7awards, Fitness Management continues to honor those in the industry who not only make fitness happen, but do so with creativity and innovation.

This year, awards are being given to facilities who didn’t let cost stand in the way of creating attractive, functional facilities that foster positive attitudes toward fitness, and to those that devised alternative, yet profitable ways of increasing membership. While one facility is being celebrated for organizing healthful nighttime activities for its members, another is being recognized for encouraging participants to soak up the fun aspect of fitness, and to laugh at themselves while doing so.

From a business standpoint, perhaps what’s most encouraging about this year’s innovations is that most were created at little relative cost to the facilities — proving that with a little creativity and a lot of heart, you can make anything happen.

Fitness Management celebrates everyone who has participated in the nova7awards thus far, but we’d like to issue a challenge to those of you who have sat idle during the past three years, merely reading about what others are doing. We ask you to make it happen in 1996. And, of course, we’d like to hear about it. Look for information about entering the 4th annual nova7awards program this spring.

Conway, Arkansas
A pre-engineered building frame and a lot of careful planning brought this functional facility into service at $40.27 per sq.ft.

When the Conway Regional Health & Fitness Center opened its doors last January, the construction process didn’t stop there. During the year that the facility has been open, a different kind of “building” has been taking place — one that has more to do with a commitment to health and well-being than it does with hammers and nails.

“For so many years we had operated as a sick-care organization, like many hospitals,” explains Dick Storie, health and fitness center director. “We thought it was time for us to come full circle and really take a leadership role in improving the health status of our community.” To do this, Conway Regional Medical Center began planning a comprehensive wellness facility to serve its mid-size community. But while Conway’s commitment to building a healthy community was great, its budget was not.

Cutting costs, not quality
“The typical cost of building such a facility [upwards of $6 million] was prohibitive for a small, 117-bed hospital in a town of 30,000,” Storie says. So when it came time to build the 68,748-square-foot facility, Conway Regional hired a construction manager to subcontract the various trades. While this offered less control over the facility’s final timeline, it saved thousands of dollars in construction costs.

Likewise, a pre-engineered building frame with a standing seam roof was used, as well as interior and exterior walls designed from concrete block and metal studs. According to Storie, money was saved by eliminating the need for items like inset air return systems and in-lay lighting. Further savings were met through the elimination of “extra” design items, such as expensive tile or marble flooring. Hospital staff also chose color schemes and office furnishings themselves, eliminating the cost of an interior designer.

“If you were to walk in off the street, you’d say, ‘Wow, this is a beautiful facility,’” says Storie. “Even though it’s certainly not the most beautiful in the country, it’s functional and the members love it.” Amenities include a 25-meter, five-lane pool, a 4,000-square-foot aerobics room, two basketball courts, two racquetball courts, a 3,500-square-foot daycare facility, an indoor track, pro-shop and member lounge.

The best part of all, Storie will tell you, is that the entire facility was built for just $40.27 per square foot, well below the industry average of $70 to $120. In all, land and construction costs totalled $3.3 million. “Although we incorporate outpatient physical therapy services, the revenue from the health and fitness center alone allowed us to turn a profit in the sixth month of operation,” Storie says, citing 2,750 memberships as of late November. “Although we must negate our losses for the first five months of operation, we expect to break even in our first year.” As of late October, the facility had generated nearly $690,000 in revenue.

Comments are closed.