Exercise Supercenter – Lifetime Fitness

Have you ever heard of Lifetime Fitness?  I didn’t until they started building this huge facility near my house outside St. Louis.  My first reaction was that somebody had the wrong business model.  A million square foot gym in this economy.  No way.

After an initial run in with an overly aggressive salesperson, my neighbors slowly signed up after their strong marketing push.  Given that I primarily run, it seemed hard to justify, but everyone who I talked to that had been to one of their facilities raves about them.  People compare them to country clubs (other than everyone in casual clothes) where there is great service and quality design and materials.

When you review their website, you get a much different view of the company.  Not your typical gym.  The facilities include a restaurant with healthy foods, a spa, and all of what you’d expect – classes, equipment, pools.  But, they also provide corporate wellness programs.

It finally opened, and I had a chance to go there Sunday.  Very nice.  Lots of staff.  Lots of equipment.  Lots of people (but not too many).  [I have no idea what the breakeven model is for a facility but it has to be 3,000+ members.]  And, a great example of old world social networking was the fact that there were tons of people who we knew and who knew each other there.  It was a destination to be at where hanging out at the pool was a social event by itself.

Since we know that peer pressure can influence wellness, it would be interesting to study the health dynamics in neighborhoods with a Lifetime Fitness versus other gyms and versus no facility.  Could it be the catalyst or tipping point?  It’s only a couple of days in, and I am on the west coast so we will see.

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