Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Christmas present (s)



So yeah, I’m supposed to ooze that sappy sympathetic “There but for the grace of God…” routine, but to Hell with that! These clueless amateurs should NEVER have initially opened.

Simply put, this side of the River--that would be the Connecticut-- dividing us, The People’s Republic of Amherst, from our Sister City Northampton (with Hadley stuck in the middle) can support two decent sized Health Clubs; and the other side of the Coolidge Bridge can also support two. That’s all folks. We’re not exactly Boston, The Big Apple or LA.

Thus when you have six or seven facilities on this side of the river all scavenging for half the pie, something has to give--as in DIE! A duo did this week; a duo more to go. And then, gloriously, homeostasis returns to the Happy Valley Fitness Universe.

Gold’s Gym and Planet Fitness (that has not even opened yet) are next on the Devil's shortlist.

Ultimate Fitness opened almost ten years ago targeting the same student demographic Flex Gym on University Drive lived and died by a year or two earlier.

James “Bruiser” Flint had inherited the Umass Basketball Head Coach position after Coach Cal left the building (Mullins Center), and he Pollyannaishly decided to open a Health Club while simultaneously trying to coach a nationally ranked (at times #1) basketball team. He failed, miserably, at both.

Umass basketball slid into the toilet, where they remain today, and Umass quietly benched Coach Flint (they, like the town of Amherst, hate it when a minority hire fails.) He would return once annually for the past few years to tour his albatross business (no reason really, since they have not changed a single thing) and that was the extent of his long-distance involvement.

Curious that they would surrender now. Unlike most Valley businesses January is, mainly due to New Year’s Resolutions, the peak month for the Health Club industry.

Probably a confluence of concerns: the recent ownership change at Hampshire Fitness in Amherst, the pernicious predatory pricing from Planet Fitness in Hadley and the daunting prospect of a shiny new $50 million Recreation Center at Umass (guaranteed to absorb the vast majority of students.)
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Curves was never a concern, as they only target women, thus ignoring half the market. A few years ago Curves was the #1 franchise in America with thousands of units springing up like summer weeds. Many have now wilted and died.

Aerobic circuit training is fine (we have just added a one-hour Friday class), but to limit your entire business model to a 30-minute circuit routine performed two or three times per week guarantees boredom, the #1 cause of dropout.

An exercise science study showed if women actually followed Curves recommendations (three workouts per week) they burned under 300 calories total, or one-twelfth of a pound.

American College of Sports Medicine recommendations, however, suggest moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, five days a week. So even if the entire Curves chain vanishes nationwide it would have zero impact on the average health of American women.

And in the Happy Valley, consumers (men and women) who patronized a dead club mostly migrate to another--thus ensuring the financial health of those hardy Health Clubs that remain.

Like the Marine Corps motto: The few. The proud!


Not sure why Dead Men Walking still do this (put up a sign suggesting they will return). Used to be local owners wanted a few days to get out of town so members who just paid for a long-term membership can't catch them, but since Flint left Amherst a long, long time ago...

Hey, at least Curves had a sense of humor with their obituary:

3 comments:

Mary E.Carey said...

Fascinating analysis. That IS a funny sign at Curves.

maryd said...

Hi Larry, Off topic but thought you'd like to know of last nights act of scroogeness. The house on Whippletree had its wishing well for charity robbed. It is the last year they were doing the light display and I think the lights are to be turned off tonight. They had wanted to break their collection record and end on a high note.

LarryK4 said...

Only in Amherst incidents like that are never off topic. My God! Just when I thought the Town Manager’s idiot tax on Boy Scout Christmas Trees couldn’t be topped for Scroogness.