Time was when going to a health club meant little more than an exercise in pedaling a stationary bike, lifting weights and looking for a spotter. Fast forward a generation. The fitness business is now a hyper-competitive, often glitzy, $15-billion industry.
It’s not enough to have the latest equipment, lots of televisions, a sauna, group-exercise classes, tanning booths, a host of personal trainers, a child-care facility, apparel lines, member-appreciation-day treats and, increasingly, 24-hour access.
Exhibit A could be Tampa Bay Health & Fitness in north Tampa. It incorporates the Giovane Institute/Clinic Med Spa within a traditional club framework. Under one roof, members are pumping iron, boxing (in an actual ring) and undergoing botox treatments, laser hair removal, vaser hormone therapy and mesotherapy for fat and cellulite reduction.
Another hybrid facility is Tampa’s toney Harbour Island Athletic Club & Spa. World class (clay) tennis courts as well as facilities for basketball, racquetball and squash. Plus a swimming pool, a well-provisioned café and a spa that features Sonya Dakar skin treatments. From treadmills and Cybex machines to green tea peels and “Visualift” eye treatment.
And for those just wanting something more exotic than, say, Pilates, there’s the popular salsa class at The Athletic Club in Brandon or “urban rebounding,” which incorporates contemporary music and a trampoline, featured at any of the Bally Total Fitness Clubs. A number of fitness centers now offer “Zumba” classes, a combination of aerobics and a fusion of Latin and other international music. It may be the hottest trend in group fitness. Shapes Total Fitness even has a “Zumba Gold” program for seniors.
And while music is a given, the way it’s programmed is key. For example, it will differ according to the time of day and location – for Lifestyle Family Fitness members. Those frequenting the Sarasota and Seminole clubs are likely to hear “Oldies” early in the day, because the demographic skews older. At Lifestyle’s Hyde Park facility in Tampa, the youngest membership of its 29 Florida venues, the music is urban and up-tempo all day.