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“I Want My Old Health Club Back!”
I’m a member at a local health club that recently spiked in growth.
It’s an “eat or be eaten” world, and when another local health club closed its doors for a couple weeks, my club feasted on the carrion. Note the phrase my club.
One day while I jogged around the indoor track, I rounded a corner and almost flattened a wizened lady who was walking in a run-only lane. I mumbled to myself something slightly profane and gave her a wide berth.
Does she not know which lane is for walkers? Is she illiterate? Can she not read?
Then one morning after my workout, I wanted simply to sit in one of the chairs in the lounge, sip the free coffee, and cool down before driving home. There was no open chair. A bunch of folks who looked like they had just caught the bus over from the retirement community sipped free coffee and chatted cheerily, like late-night patrons at a neighborhood bar.
Not long after, I began noticing a not-so-subtle change in the men’s locker room. I don’t classify myself as a “younger man” (I’m 46), except that I’ve noticed that there is a great divide in age (and psychology) between men who wrap a towel around their waist while in the locker room and those who appear to feel more comfortable with themselves. I know this sounds age-ist, but the male body after about 70 is no French painting.
Here’s the marketing story: A competitor goes under, and the senior management of my club likely said, “Wow, let’s create a promotion to cherry-pick these memberships from the other club – and voila! we’ll grow while having to spend no real marketing dollars to acquire them. We grow with no added expense!”
Makes perfect sense.
So management repaved the parking lot to narrow the parking spots – and thus increased parking capacity. Then, I noticed for the first time some signs that trumpeted valet parking. Yes. Valet parking for a health club! Most recently, the furniture in the lounge area was upgraded and expanded, ostensibly for those whom “going to the health club” means in large part chatting with friends and drinking branded coffee.
So, my question to you: Has this club’s position in the market changed, given that the average age of the club spiked along with the new growth?
Growth always involves a shift in power from the old to the new. I’m out of power, and the new folks are in. So, I bite my tongue, close my eyes, and head to the locker room to change before I run.
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