Despite Economy, IHRSA Clubs Report Improved or Comparative Performance in January 2009

The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) announced today the results from a recent survey of IHRSA members, which shows that many health clubs are performing relatively well thus far in 2009. At least two-thirds of respondents indicated that certain aspects of their business were performing as well as, or better, at the end of January 2009 when compared to January 2008.
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Boston – March 10, 2009 – The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) announced today the results from a recent survey of IHRSA members, which shows that many health clubs are performing relatively well thus far in 2009. At least two-thirds of respondents indicated that certain aspects of their business were performing as well as, or better, at the end of January 2009 when compared to January 2008. Results from this qualitative survey of IHRSA members reported equal or improved rates of performance in membership attendance, non-dues revenues, new non-dues revenue sales, and total revenues.



“We are very pleased to hear from a sample of IHRSA clubs that they are maintaining or improving performance during this tough economic time,” reported Katie Rollauer, IHRSA’s Senior Manager of Research.



Many clubs indicated that they are trying to enhance customer service and stress the value and personal benefits of club membership and non-dues services. As one club operator commented, “We are focusing on selling the ‘value’ of our offerings, not focusing on price points.”



“Regional affects may be making club operations tougher than the usual increase in membership due to the season,” says Rollauer. “Most categories [were] down a little [compared to last year] but we lost quite a few days in January to snow that we didn't lose in 2008,” another operator reported.



Regardless of club performance, operators indicated that they are making at least minor changes in order to work through the current economic hardships. Some of these changes include an increased focus on:

customer service profit centers, such as non-dues programs marketing and advertising

In addition, more clubs are offering discounts on enrollment fees, shorter-term memberships, and services offered to non-members. Club owners are also paying close attention to staffing schedules and expenses, while also giving careful consideration to postponing equipment purchases. However, the majority of clubs reported that they are maintaining their pre-planned capital expenditures.



As one respondent stated, “We are always looking for new ways to save money that will not have a negative impact on the member experience.” - which is characteristic of club operator sentiment thus far in 2009.



Online survey sent to IHRSA member clubs in February 2009. Participation was voluntary and 269 responses were collected. The typical respondent owned one facility with a range of 1,000-5,000 memberships.



The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) is a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and suppliers worldwide. The association’s membership includes over 9,400 clubs in 78 countries, along with over 740 industry suppliers.


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