By: Chris Peterson
Featuring Comments From Bill McBride
Jan. 1 is typically when many people begin a fitness journey, whether they resolve to finally get in shape or renew a commitment to their well-being that may have lapsed. On Jan. 1, 2014, the founder and some former executives of fitness management company Club One renewed their own fitness journey by coming together to form Active Sports Clubs, which soon after purchased the majority of Club One’s assets. President and CEO Bill McBride explains that his partners – including Club One co-founder Jill Kinney and former Club One executive Carey White – are moving forward with a new vision that is focused on creating true connections among its members and building a stronger community for fitness enthusiasts.
As veterans of the health club industry, McBride, Kinney and White bring more than 75 combined years of experience to Active Sports Clubs, and McBride says that experience, along with the drive of their forward-thinking Management Team and strategic partners is going to be crucial as the company sets its sights on expanding in the near future. Active Sports Clubs operates 10 branded health clubs and another 45 fitness and wellness centers for hospitals, corporations, universities and community centers. The company also operates a flagship location in the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.
Although Active Sports Clubs has multiple locations throughout California and 15 other states, McBride says the key to the company’s success is its focus on ensuring each of its locations maintains a unique, localized feel that helps its patrons feel at home. “The industry is maturing with a lot of operators taking a me-too strategy,” McBride says. “Ours is to provide a local, unique offering differentiated from typical health clubs, gyms and fitness studios.”
Relationships are essential for Active Sports Clubs, and McBride says the company works hard to build strong relationships between itself and its members. The most important element of building those relationships is having the right people at each of its locations. “We are well-connected as authentic operators, and we are all personally connected to our mission of inspiring healthier, more active lives,” McBride says, adding that the company has extensive training programs in place for its employees to aid them in their development.
Active Sports Clubs has a complete retention and loyalty program. The Active Rewards program allows members to earn points for checking in during their workouts or sharing their progress with friends. Points can be redeemed for gift cards, guest passes and other merchandise.
McBride says even though the company serves thousands of members across dozens of locations, Active Sports Clubs is able to create strong bonds with its members and anticipate their needs. “We regularly serve over 25,000 members in our commercial clubs and another 150,000 members in our managed sites, plus tourists and non-member guests,” McBride says. “We create meaningful customer experiences, helping guests with their health and well-being needs.”
Like any fitness program, determination and discipline are crucial elements of rebuilding and revitalizing a brand as Active Sports Clubs is doing. That’s why McBride and his partners are putting a lot of work into retrofitting its locations to better utilize their space.
McBride says the company also has “flattened” its organizational structure to give each individual location more autonomy. He says this is an important step in ensuring that each Active Sports Clubs location can offer its members a unique and localized experience tailored specifically to its community.
Moving forward, McBride says the company is focused on building up the Active Sports Clubs brand the same way he and his partners built Club One into one of the premier fitness club brands of its time.
He says focusing on providing “a premium experience with full amenities” to members will always be a high priority, but the company will balance that with recruiting top talent to help members find joy in being part of the company’s healthy lifestyle community.
“Our company is growing in a strategic fashion within a short period of time,” McBride explains. “We have premium offerings with a unique product mix geared towards specific local communities.”