Private Facility of the Year: Life Time fitness
By Kent Oswald
Bigger isn’t always better. But Life Time Fitness, this year’s Private Facility of the Year, proves that better can be contained within bigger. America’s largest manager of indoor tennis facilities counts among its current roster 105 fitness clubs — 16 of which showcase tennis across seven states (the highest end operating as Life Time Athletic Clubs).
The company, focusing on upscale properties and service, opened its first health and exercise facility in Minnesota in 1992. Since then it has grown into a publicly traded company with $1 billion-plus in revenues and more than 20,000 employees. Earlier this year it acquired a tennis flagship and is currently putting the USTA regional training center Racquet Club of the South (to be rebranded as Life Time Tennis Atlanta) through a months-long renovation, turning it into the company’s Southeast hub for junior tennis champion training, coaching and development, tournaments and recreational play, and instruction.
According to Layne McCleary, general manager of the new facility and the company’s senior manager–national tennis operations, tennis has been part of a developing vision the last five years and serves as a key to the company’s future, “Because it’s a major differentiator for our brand,” a statement to a particular demographic that Life Time is “not just a gym.”
Having found that tennis is a key to attracting their target demographic, clubs run programs for all ages and levels and focus on helping new players, to providing social and competitive opportunities, to serving as a training academy for current and future pros. Tightening the bond between the brand and tennis, plans are to incorporate tennis into all new properties whenever possible, with a minimum 10 indoor and outdoor courts.
Virgil Christain, USTA director–Community Development and Facilities, notes, “Life Time is putting an emphasis on tennis, [envisioning] that tennis can drive their business.”
Tips for Success
- Intertwine a full complement of tennis programs and services with your brand.
- Spend the money to make the money.
- Look to build a community in person and online (Life Time uses Tencaptennis.com).
See all articles by Kent Oswald
About the Author
Kent Oswald is a contributor to TennisNow.com, producer at the JockBookReview.com and a former editor of Tennis Week magazine.
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