Health Club Relationship. Part 3

Benefits to the club

Clubs are interested in strategic liaisons with hospitals for many reasons. However, the primary reason is the instantaneous credibility the hospital offers a facility. In an environment where there is a relatively large percentage of people who need wellness services and exercise, but are afraid to obtain these services from a commercial club, a hospital-affiliated facility is a great asset.

Successful hospital/club ventures

Hospitals began their involvement in the fitness business in the mid-1980s in response to the paradigm shift occurring in health care. Realizing that fitness was the wave of the future, hospitals approached clubs in the hopes of creating relationships, but were met with club disinterest. Understanding that they had no choice, hospitals built and managed their own fitness centers. However, not having the experience to develop a business plan or manage a preventive-based business, the early hospital-based fitness centers failed.

In the early 1990s, the health care paradigm shift continued, further emphasizing prevention, and hospitals were obliged to offer preventive services once again. They realized that, more than ever, they needed the help of professionals in the fitness industry and, again, approached clubs to create relationships. This time, clubs were aware that they needed to associate with health care providers, and graciously accepted the offers from hospitals. This joint venture resulted in successful hospital wellness centers.

The successful hospital fitness center is:

* Designed to operate as a stand-alone profit center or business comprised of multiple profit centers in addition to that of membership dues.

* Professionally managed by the partner club dedicated to achieving the joint goals of the hospital and club.

* A provider of a variety of programs and services vertically integrated so that children and seniors benefit from membership.

* Supported by the medical staff and area health care professionals.

* A division or subsidiary of the hospital whose mission and objectives are integrated into the mission and objectives of the hospital. The facility needs to be committed to helping the hospital achieve its goals, and vice versa.

* An outpatient center that offers integrated and symbiotic clinical programs, such as physical therapy, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, and occupational health.

* Accessible to the community it serves.

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