Feature Article - November 2005
Find a printable version here

Fit Facilities

Mixing old and new ideas to fulfill fresh niches

By Kyle Ryan

NCSF Receives NCCA Accreditation
Obviously having a knowledgeable staff is integral to any facility's success, and certifications can help ensure that staff has the proper training. Of course, in the fitness world, there's a confusing array of certifying bodies, not all of whom are certified by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), a division of the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA). Confused yet? NCCA basically sets accreditation standards that are intended to be objective, broad and easily recognized for professional organizations and programs. NOCA is the umbrella agency over NCCA, acting as a sort of clearinghouse for information that tracks trends and practices. In May, the National Council on Strength & Fitness (NCSF) reived NCCA accreditation, which basically means NCSF's standards and practices will be examined thoroughly by NCCA's peer-review process. NCSF joins the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as some of the few fitness governing bodies certified by NCCA. Currently, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) are not NCCA-certified.

The secrets of success

Thurman's 21 Minute Convenience Fitness follows a simple piece of advice that Lewandowski has for other clubs: Find a hole and fill it.

"It essentially comes down to what is your vision, your niche, and can you survive," he says. "You want to see what the other clubs in your neighborhood are offering and kind of get a sense on what may be underserved, what is very popular. But you want to keep in mind what your goal is on revenue per square foot."

Before one of Fitplex's other locations opened, designers planned to build a racquetball court in it. But the sport's long decline in popularity has made racquetball courts wasted space in many clubs. A lot of them have renovated the courts for other purposes, and Fitplex's designers nixed the court at the last minute.

"That got changed right at the end to a women's fitness studio," Lewandowski says, "just because we saw that two people per hour on a racquetball court, where there may be five to six women working out on equipment."

Eventually, that became part of the Pilates studio.

"Things may evolve, and it really depends upon, again, what's very popular, because you need to keep an eye on usage," Lewandowski says. "You want people to use the club. If they're not going to use it, they're not going to see value. They're not going to continue to be a member."

Ideas like changing a racquetball court to a women's fitness studio come from knowledgeable staff. For Mike Dupuis, it all comes down to the people he hires.

"If you've got some dynamite, caring individuals that will give to the program, I have found nine times out of 10 you're going to be very successful," he says. "Spend your money wisely on people, and good things will follow."