"The more someone exercises at home, the more that person will be interested in wanting a full-service health club program like we offer," said Daniel Lynch, an executive of San Diego-based Sporting Clubs, which operates six executive health clubs across the country.
Health clubs also are facing a new competitive challenge from corporations, which, to reduce health insurance costs and meet workers' rising expectation of health benefits, are offering an increasing amount of health and exercise benefits and services.
"The shift has meant building a health club where people work, not where they live," said Michael Talla, president of Sports Connection, which is developing Sports Club/Irvine, a $20-million club set to open late this year in the Irvine Spectrum office development.
So far, Talla said, the club has signed up 2,000 members, about half of whom are part of corporate membership programs paid for or subsidized by employers. The club will offer executive dining rooms to bring corporate leaders out of their executive suites and child-care services to get parents out of the home.
Rival Sporting Clubs, which has signed up 1,500 members so far, recently began taking its services to employers, offering cholesterol and fat tests and health counseling programs at the corporate site, and staff members set up exercise strategies for workers that may include home exercise.
Executive memberships will be in excess of $100 a month per person at Sports Club/Irvine and the Sporting Club, compared to $19 monthly dues often advertised by Holiday and $50 per month at many other full-service clubs.
Lou Gaudio thinks he's come up with a compromise between the health club and a home gym. Lou Gaudio's Studio in Dana Point has about 60 clients who have the equipment and motivational advantages of a health club, but greater privacy in an intimate setting and personal training from Gaudio and his staff.
Gaudio, a former ad salesman who got hooked on fitness and became a personal trainer six years ago, opened his studio last year. His client list, which he hopes to limit to 80, includes well-heeled professionals willing to pay $300 a month for personal training.
"Some of my members have home gyms," Gaudio said. "They come here for their motivation."