United States

Working out the trends in fitness at private clubs with Cybex


As a leading provider of premium exercise equipment, Cybex emphasizes physical well-being on and off of its equipment. "We have a heritage in health and sports medicine," says Steve Alvezi, Director of Sales – Golf & Hospitality at Cybex, "and we bring a commitment to education to every club." The company has more than 90 patents and prides itself on its innovative design, durability and ability to deliver results with minimal stress on the body. This concept stands at the center of what they refer to as "the Cybex Advantage."

While Cybex has a solid history in many markets, its focus on the private club industry is still relatively new. "We have worked with private clubs for a long time," says Alvezi. "Our equipment was there and we had some strong relationships, but, from a marketing partner perspective, we only started to focus on the industry over the last few years."

One commitment the company made was its decision to stand alongside McGladrey as a Corporate Advantage Partner to the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA). "The CMAA relationship has been fantastic. Only recently, I saw a statistic that we have a majority market share in the club industry. We know that 80-90 percent of our club customers are members of CMAA. They're great to work with and are always willing to share their experiences with peers in the industry. In addition to our commitment to CMAA, we entered into an endorsement arrangement with [legendary professional golfer] Greg Norman, a tried and true fan of Cybex, around the same time."

Cybex was recently represented at the 2012 National Club Association (NCA) Conference in New York by Joan Carter, Vice Chairman with Cybex, and Dr. Paul M. Juris of the Cybex Research Institute, who participated on the panel Recreational and Sports Trends for Clubs: The Key to Your Club's Own Fitness," says Alvezi.

Alvezi notes that unique dynamics exist in serving private clubs compared to freestanding health centers. "The industry is still learning about fitness. The trend started years ago but is going strong, and we believe it will continue to do so. For many general managers, it was a lot like if I were to go out to put a new roof on my house or buy sod for the yard. They know their members demand quality but they don't know exactly where to turn. They'll often want two or three quotes and want to explore their options. Over the last few years, we've seen a clear change in the amount of knowledge about fitness when customers first call."

It is not surprising that "clubs demand high quality but they are also looking for the best price possible," comments Alvezi. "The purchase process often moves slowly with a buying cycle of 18 months to two years, and, when you throw boards into the decision making process, there are a new set of factors. There are times when the best possible package has lost out to what a particular member wanted."

Alvezi sees that many clubs are currently adding to their existing fitness facilities. "Some clubs put a toe in the water a few years ago and the results have then blown their expectations out of the water in terms of member usage rates. They are now asking what else they need to do to keep their fitness centers relevant. We never hear that no one is using the fitness facilities. It's always high usage and they are continuing to grow."

As for what growing fitness facilities are comprised with, "they all have their staples, treadmills and Arc Trainers for cardio and a strength section," says Alvezi. "More clubs are now adding group exercise studios for classes. We're working on this type of diverse programming to help clubs keep up with trends like Zumba and the extreme exercise classes that do a great job at marketing. Whether a club is pursuing a renovation or looking to build something from the ground up, our goal is to be involved from the start and throughout the process to be a sounding board and to offer insight into trends in demand and usage. We want to be a resource."

Cybex emphasizes the role its team can have in education. "If you have a great staff and fitness director, it will make all of the difference in the world," shares Alvezi. "There is a clear trend that clubs and their members want someone around who understands how to use the equipment and to help them go through an exercise program and stick with it; nothing helps more than getting results – faster. Like our golf performance program, we're also providing more training in the facilities. We often offer a day or two days where Cybex staff members go to the club to train their staff or even work directly with members. We show them the benefits of each piece of equipment and how to use each one properly to get the most out of it."

Clubs are acutely aware of the need to treat fitness facilities like any other amenity and to ensure they meet member demands. "Clubs build a gym to respond to the needs of their members. Our team doesn't approach a club to sell Cybex," says Alvezi. "We're there to help them meet the demands of members and create an experience that adds to their well being in the long run."