In a day and age when gyms sell membership for $10 per month and health clubs treat members like lab rats rather than valued customers, Life Time Fitness lives happily in its own fitness world.
And what a world it is.
Life Time Fitness, a franchise with more than 100 clubs throughout the country, carries a mindset that thankfully doesn't mirror that of today's box gyms that sell something as paramount as health and wellness for a meager, monthly sum.
Instead, Life Time Fitness believes strongly in variety, amenities, membership interaction and most importantly fun for those who belong to their club.
"We (Life Time Fitness) are not trying to attract the Planet Fitness or Ballys crowd. We want people that expect higher end, higher quality of everything, and we offer things that they do not," said Michele Chovan-Taylor, Group Fitness Department Head at the Summerlin Life Time Fitness location in Nevada.
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Saying that Life Time Fitness clubs exude quality and an awe factor that is unparalleled in the highly competitive fitness market is a gross understatement. Other franchise or chain clubs such as Planet Fitness only charge $10 per month, a fee that is equal parts insulting to your health and geared toward encouraging members not to come.
"Somebody opens and charges $10 doesn't do anything for us," Chovan-Taylor says. "Those clubs sell so many membership and bank on people not going. Our first line of business is getting people connected and using the club"
Because the $10 per month clubs are priced as such, those companies assume since the price is so low, members who don't come aren't going to cancel since it's only a few dollars out the door each month. The business model of a Planet Fitness, for example, is bland, demur and actually seems constructed with boredom and not going there at all in mind.
At Life Time Fitness, that isn't the goal at all. They want engaged members who come and not only work out but revel in the other ancillary services such as a rock wall, swim lessons or personal training. And, of course, you have to mention the one variable of Life Time Fitness that truly sets it apart from other clubs across the country: group fitness.
One of the redeeming qualities of group fitness is that classroom atmosphere that cultivates relationships but also keeps exercise and a workout routine incredibly fresh. Think about how stale and subdued your weight training or cardiovascular workout on that same treadmill could easily deter you from coming back.
"I've done this for 25 years and when I don't see people coming, you hear 'I got bored, burned out, couldn't afford it, couldn't make time with kids and other things,' " Chovan-Taylor says. "Then a lot of people will leave for a while and come back. That's why I build a (group exercise) schedule like I do: variety, new classes; people get bored and then you have to have amazing instructors. They can make or break the program. People who take group fitness classes help to retain members."
Retention, for any club, is key for survival for a number of reason. Not only will current members start acting as traveling salespeople for your health club by referring new members, but they'll keep coming. Anyone within the fitness industry will tell you that it costs less to retain members versus the marketing and man hours to get new ones to join your club.
Some of the more popular classes at the Summerlin Life Time Fitness location, according to Chovan-Taylor, are Total Conditioning Extreme, which is similar to a P90x or Crossfit type class, along with Yoga classes and weight training group classes like Barbell Strength. You also can't leave the wildly popular Zumba off that list of highly anticipated and attended classes in addition to a newcomer: Life Barre.
Life Barre melds ballet, strength and postural exercises with just a touch of Pilates for a workout that reminds even the most ardent and physically fit person that ballet isn't anything to scoff at and actually serves as a competent and taxing workout.
Even the names of the classes alone elicit enthusiasm and eagerness from most members to rush out and buy some new workout clothes and stand tall in as many classes as possible. That said, exercise is quite the personal journey and one that not everyone, especially beginners, are ready to share with the masses. Group exercise classes also carry a stigma that only in shape, long time members of the club participate in them.
Chovan-Taylor insists that even if that is the perception of group fitness, that's not the vibe the instructors, or members for that matter, give off at the Life Time Fitness club in Summerlin.
"We tell new members 'almost every person feels that way, and when something is new, there's always the uncomfortableness," Chovan Taylor says. "Every one (at Summerlin) is very nurturing, and our staff go in and let the instructor know you're brand new. No one here is going to notice or care if you can't make it through an entire class. Ride as long as you can; no one is going to know. Stay in the back, waive hips; no one is looking at you. Go to 'barbell' and lift light. You have to start somewhere."
And once you start at Life Time Fitness, it's hard to consider stopping. Maybe it is the staff at the locations that win you over with their member first attitude and how they treat their customers. Life Time Fitness also doesn't hurt its cause when you soak in the sights of clubs that are pristine, well maintained and visually stunning in how they're laid out.
At the end of the day, however, stepping foot in a Life Time Fitness club conveys not only the practicality of cleanliness and variety but also a feeling of belonging and knowing inherently that you're at the right place to achieve all of your fitness goals, while not being treated as a number on the back of a membership card.
"This is a completely different philosophy," Chovan-Taylor says.
"This is a destination."
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