Monday, November 24, 2008

Fitness Clubs Fight Unhealthy Economy

“At a time of year normally noted for people getting ready to make resolutions to get in better shape, local fitness centers are seeing declines in membership because of an unhealthy economy. To counteract the trend, Chillicothe Fitness and Racquet Club is looking to offer its customers new specials as early as the first of the year. Manager Michele Young said some of the club's members have lost jobs, and that obviously has affected their ability to maintain a membership. Those types of factors are beyond the facility's control, and Young said all operators can do is control the product they offer to the community to keep membership up. ‘We try to offer great rates and good customer service to keep our members,’ she said, adding that operators hope word about the facilities and services offered will circulate to attract new members. Elsewhere across the country, USA Today recently reported that cash-strapped customers have cut spending on spas and gyms. Beyond deep discounts, some of those gyms are adopting a recession spin: touting services as stress reducers, not indulgences, and highlighting the economic benefits of ‘wellness.’ Businesses listed on Web site SpaFinder's directory service are slashing prices, said President Susie Ellis. The number of discount deals offered on its Web site and in its e-mail newsletter is up 25 percent to 30 percent versus a year ago. Spa and health club sales for 2008 aren't in yet. But on the gym front, signs of trouble started last year. Membership dropped in 2007 for the first time in more than a decade to 41.5 million from 42.7 million in 2006, said the International Health and Racquet and Sportsclub Association.”

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