BY PETER JONES
Man has been getting a workout ever since the first caveman tried rolling a heavy stone, but in the 21st century world of technology and urban alienation, he may need an extra push to get that rock-wheel up the next hill.
Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club, for one, is serving its members in the context of today’s harried society where time, convenience and ease are as important as calories and heart rates. When you are looking at a 101,000-square-foot fitness club, the size and breadth of offerings can be as intimidating as that perfectly formed statue working out next to you.
With the popularity of smaller studios for yoga, Pilates and martial arts, the larger fitness industry has had to get used to the new normal: People want the best of both worlds.
Think of today’s athletic club as being a half-dozen smaller clubs in one—a one-stop workout mall, if you will, or a convenient all-purpose venue for exercise errands.
“What you’re finding is the boutique studios being built inside the health club. We see this trend happening across the country,” said Paula Neubert, general manager of the 30-year-old Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club in Greenwood Village.
The goal has been the personal attention of a boutique studio with all the benefits of a full-service health club. For example, if someone were to join GATC with unlimited Pilates on her mind, she might be better off walking next door for yoga rather than juggling multiple memberships at two franchises at two different strip malls.
“What happens is a lot is these people might really get into cycling for a while—they do it for three months and they get bored with it,” Neubert said. “With us, they don’t have to move to another facility, they move to another room.”
Those rooms now include the Spin Studio for instructor-driven indoor cycling, three levels of PWRFIT “premier” small-group personal training, the Combat Zone martial arts, and studios for hot “thermal” yoga and Pilates classes—as well as the aerobic areas, tennis courts and indoor-outdoor swimming pools that have attracted locals for decades.
Those who join with an eye on just one of those activities are often swayed to take fuller advantage of their memberships. Tiffany Levine, the club’s marketing director, recalls a member who thought she just wanted a place to do her own self-styled exercise regimen until the proximity of a nearby yoga class put a spinal twist in her plans.
“What is really amazing is the evolution of someone’s thinking,” Levine said.
Even so, that nearness of multiple options may not be enough in an ever-changing world of technology and social-media endorphins. For example, the wireless Performance IQ allows stationary bicyclists to view a detailed real-time display of their performance metrics, or “workoutput,” as Neubert calls it.
Although the system measures key stats on one large color-based screen, the decidedly individualized program was designed to be essentially noncompetitive.
“We can have an elite triathlete cyclist and a 65-70-year-old woman right next to each other—and they perform exactly the same,” Neubert explained. “I’m working like a maniac—just at my level. Your ‘orange’ and my ‘orange’ are two different things.”
Likewise, the club’s diverse range of Life Fitness equipment incorporates Bluetooth technology that tracks the exerciser’s heart rate and more as he walks the treadmill.
Many such offerings were brought to the club through GATC’s proactive efforts to garner opinion. Every four months, each club-goer is asked to participate in the Member Experience Metrix survey, which helps keep the club responsive to the needs of its users.
Results have included everything from high-tech gadgetry to the new half-body men’s shower stalls that offer both privacy and the ability to “network” at the same time.
Technology even affects those members who are not coming to the club very often and may get a workout of their own in the form of emails, postcards, and phone calls.
“You set a goal at some time to be a member of this club, which means there was a commitment on your part,” Neubert said with a smile. “We run a report every single month and if you don’t come into the club we’re going to come and get you.”