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Where Fitness Meets Spa

By: Simon Van Booy
Posted: June 13, 2008

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At the New York Health & Racquet Club, Bodnar thinks that it’s more a matter of changing with the times. “We’ve had yoga, martial arts and massage since I’ve been with the company, but we’ve since expanded our horizons into Pilates-based courses, acupuncture, and other New Age-focused classes and therapies as they’ve become available.”

New trend

Overall, Bodnar believes that the fusion of fitness and health club treatments is working. “What do you want to do after you exercise? Relax. We offer that experience, and we encourage it as part of the recovery process. It completes your workout,” he notes.

Bodnar also maintains that the future is bright for those fitness professionals who are ready to embrace the idea of a hybrid health club and spa. “I think that, on many levels, it’s necessary to blend the two,” he says. “Clubs that are not multidimensional run the risk of boring their clients. That’s the greatest sin a health club can commit in this environment. Certainly some clubs can offer one thing if it’s done really well, but when a client can find the same service and more on the menu, the single-service facility could be out in the cold.”

In addition, Bodnar asserts that people want good service from qualified professionals at a fair price. “Clients don’t want to be bored,” he says. “Provide those things, and your club will be a success.”

Sutton concedes that she sees health clubs really struggling with the spa aspect of the business. “This is usually not a ‘core competency’ or focus for them. That is why Exhale is such a strong brand. We have figured out the best way to combine spa and fitness in a healing environment,” she says. “The customer has become much smarter in the marketplace. They are more educated on what is worth spending their money on. They want it all: results, great service and environment.”