Carving Out a Niche
Subjects: Cory and Ann Puckett Location: Woodbridge, Virginia Facility: Puckett Total Fitness Experience: Fifth year as trainers; third year as owners Maverick Strategy: "In January 1997," Ann says, "one of our personal training clients living in a retirement community introduced us to the community's administrator, who was building an exercise room and an indoor pool for the seniors. We met with the administrator several times and later were awarded a contract to manage an exercise program at the facility. "Using the retirement community as a training site enables us to keep our fees lower so that we can service more people. With this arrangement, we have no overhead costs." Training Services: "For the retirement community, Cory and I offer personal training sessions; small group training sessions; strength, flexibility and balance classes for both men and women twice a week; aquatics classes four times a week; monthly wellness seminars; and floor coverage in the facility at peak usage times nine hours a week. "We have one point of entry for all clients called Get Started, which includes a health risk assessment, fitness assessment, program design and program implementation. After going through Get Started, clients then choose their own level of service based on factors such as motivation, finances, fitness level, and so forth." Financials: "The facility pays us $20,000 a year to manage the overall exercise program. For personal training, we charge retirees 60 years and older $32 per session; for those under 60 years, $38 per session. We invoice clients a month in advance, based on the number of sessions planned. "We have since broadened this contract to include nonresident clients who train at the retirement community. The facility keeps 5 percent of the first $5,000 of nonresident sales each month and 20 percent of all revenue above $5,000. "We also now work with two other retirement communities using the same type of contract." Program Structure: "About 120 of the retirement community's 300 residents work out at least two times per week. During peak times, up to 15 residents will be using the facility at any one time. We have structured the nonresident training services so residents always have adequate access to the facility, which is their main concern." Client Needs: "Our personal training clients at the retirement community love strength training and cardio work, especially on the recumbent stepper called Nu-Step. Residents in wheelchairs or with walkers come in and go to town on the Nu-Step, because their fear of falling is diminished. We did our research and got senior-friendly equipment that is safe for all our clients. "In addition, residents love seminars they can identify with, like Positive Effects on Exercise and Aging." Anecdote: "One of the first residents I worked with came to the facility using a walker. After training for three months, he was able to walk unassisted into the dining room with his head held high. He was the talk of the community. After this incident, residents who were initially skeptical of exercise came to me and said, `I want whatever you gave John Craig.'"
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