Transforming Your Fitness Facility Into a Wellness Center

by Debra Orringer, MS on May 23, 2019

Transition your gym into a wellness center to keep clients coming back.

People originally viewed fitness facilities simply as places to work out and play sports in order to change their physical appearance. However, this has shifted. Wellness—embracing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health—has become the buzzword of the decade, and today's fitness facilities have begun offering a myriad of services. To cover the full wellness spectrum, however, you need to combine forces with other health modalities.

Why would you want to transition your gym into a full-fledged wellness facility? You’d do it because you want to create a sense of community, which in turn gives your clients a strong emotional connection to your business. The emotional connection retains them; they return to receive more support, motivation and inspiration. Discover how you can turn your business into a true wellness center and keep clients coming back.

Why Wellness?

Offering all aspects of wellness in one location can differentiate your business. People want to live the best life possible, and you can help them. Transitioning from a generic gym into a complete wellness center tells customers that you want to be their partner in their wellness journey.

When I began working at the fitness facility at the Kennedy Space Center, it was definitely a gym. We offered a lot of options with different classes and personal training, and over time we added fun extracurricular fitness activities and other programs that helped people reach their goals in different ways. What really opened up the center’s fitness facility to encompass wellness was joining forces with specialists from other modalities of health. On-site we added a massage therapist, physical therapists and athletic trainers, along with occupational and medical health professionals. This was a great start. But you can do even more.

Consider these areas as you think about transitioning your facility into an all-encompassing wellness space.

Find Experts to Help You

Many fitness facilities don’t employ credentialed wellness professionals, but it’s likely there are highly certified health coaches, exercise physiologists and wellness professionals in your community. Of course, it can be difficult to get loyal, certified staff if your facility charges low fees. With boutique studios and gyms popping up all over the country, some clients have no issue with paying upward of $200 a month. If money is an issue for your facility, consider these strategies.

Open Up Your Business to Boutique Studios

Renting out space within your fitness facility to studio owners helps both of you. It allows the boutique studio to save on overhead. (Since the majority of specialized boutique studios are 800–1,000 square feet, they don’t take up an enormous amount of space.) It provides another workout option for your clients, and it helps differentiate your business. Having access to boutique workouts like barre-inspired programs, aerial fitness, mind-body programs and other popular branded programs could keep members using your facility. You can create tiered memberships for your members and the studio members to use each other’s space.

Bring in Wellness-Oriented Independent Contractors

Certified health coaches, massage therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists and counselors may be a good fit if you have extra space in which to house them. Offer loyal clients of these professionals a discount to use your facility, and see if the contractors will offer your members a lower price as well.

Create Partnerships or Set Up Affiliates

Associating with local hospitals is another way to bring traffic into your wellness facility. You could arrange for medical professionals to lead health seminars and/or provide monthly health screenings. These experts could follow up with proper medical recommendations within their scope of practice.

Find Volunteers

Many medical professionals are so passionate about their choice of medicine that they want to go out into the community to educate people on the importance of certain disease prevention screenings. They are eager to speak and are willing to do so for free. Fitness facility members appreciate this type of education because they want to understand and become advocates for their own health. In the past the doctor’s word was final, but some patients are starting to question the why behind a diagnosis and to do their own research on alternative methods for treatment or prevention. Many people are afraid of or intimidated by medical and healthcare professionals. When you bring the medical advocates into your facility to talk with your members, answer questions and provide education, your business becomes a safe, high-quality space.

Set Up Internships

Think about partnering with local universities. In return for your help in educating interns about the fitness industry, the interns can provide a fresh perspective and outlook on the health and wellness field. You can give them ideas for different wellness programs, and they may be able to offer suggestions of their own. For example, nutrition students could work with nutrition professionals in your facility or at local hospitals to conduct weight loss programs. They can do some of the legwork for your wellness programs, including marketing the events and promoting your facility’s mission. This gives interns valuable experience.

For more information on creating a wellness library and encouraging community participation, see “How to Transform Your Fitness Facility Into a Wellness Center” in the online IDEA Library or in the April 2019 issue of IDEA Fit Business Success). If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at 800-999-4332, ext. 7.

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About the Author

Debra Orringer, MS

Debra Orringer, MS IDEA Author/Presenter

Debra is a Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist and a Board-Certified Holistic Health. Debra is deeply committed to impacting global health. Debra received her Masters of Science degree from the University of Florida. She continued her training with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition*, where she studied a variety of dietary theories and practical lifestyle coaching methods. She is accredited through the American Council on Exercise as a Medical Exercise Specialist as well as the American College of Sports Medicine. She is a competitive swimmer with USA Swimming, a blogger and internet television host as well as an author for several national trade magazines. Debra’s expertise includes: Nutritional Wellness Coaching Corporate Wellness Program Design Safe and Effective Weight Loss Subject Matter Expert and Master Fitness Trainer Environmental Impacts for Optimal Health Educational Lectures for Corporate and Medical Presenter: National Fitness Conferences Author, Blogger and online Television Host Some of Debra’s Corporate Clients include:? NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Guthy-Renker Petra Robinson, INC ZUMBA Fitness Surgical Healing Arts Center Madd Dogg Athletics American Council on Exercise Windsor Pilates National PGA Golf Clubs MyoBuddy Massager Pro