Go Leading Edge by Staying on the “Cutting Edge”

As featured in Club Management Magazine
By Bryan Green, President, Advantage Fitness Products


As much as any other industry, the fitness business is characterized and driven by new product introductions and innovations. Arguably no other industry has gotten more mileage out of the terms “state of the art” and “cutting edge.” At the same time, few arenas have benefited more from the influence of technology and innovation than the world of fitness.

There’s no arguing that “staples” like free weights, treadmills and recumbent bikes will long have their place in fitness centers. But oftentimes it’s the implementation of new technologies and “cutting edge” products and accessories that can really make the difference in moving the needle forward toward a facilities bottom line.

As the operator of one of the largest full-service fitness consultancies and commercial strength equipment distributors, Advantage Fitness Products, it’s our business to understand which new products can really bring relevant and practical value to a fitness facility, versus those that are merely redundant to what already exists. To that point, I have pinpointed some examples of where the use of state-of-the-art products and services made a significant difference for hotel- and resort-level fitness centers.

This past February, the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Fl., took delivery of an impressive array of new top of the line, entertainment-integrated fitness equipment. As one of the leading Hospitality-based fitness facilities in the country, known for offering the latest and greatest that the industry has to offer, it’s no surprise that the Biltmore Fitness Center would seek upgrades. Upgrades are what this facility is all about. However, this time it went a step further. Not only does each piece of cardiovascular equipment come equipped with personal viewing screens, but the equipment itself now has a voice…literally. The Biltmore Hotel is the first hospitality based property to install equipment featuring Precor’s new InSite technology. This impressive new digital technology allows for the “self evaluation” of cardiovascular equipment as well as the automated communication needed to initiate repairs, set reminders for scheduled maintenance, and compile an abundant amount of usage data. These machines are equipped to wirelessly transmit this data directly to the facility’s designated service provider as well as key facility management contacts. .Equipment that’s actually “intelligent?” Welcome to the future of fitness management!

“We used to have to wait for a guest to complain about when a treadmill was down, and now we get a call from our service provider before we even know we have a problem,” said Theresa McQueen, Director of Fitness for the Biltmore. “The amount of control my team now has over maximizing our facilities equipment is really incredible.”

Investments in equipment are not the only things that the Biltmore focuses on. A new enhanced composite rubber floor will be installed in the coming months along with a Juice bar, retail support, and increased group-exercise variety.. Today the Hotel’s fitness offerings extend well beyond the facility itself and into the property’s award-winning Pool and other adventure-based activities.

“Our guests have many choices in terms of where they wish to stay, and exercise services have become more and more of a factor in their decision-making,” said McQueen. “Therefore, we’ve increased our emphasis and believe we’ve dramatically increased our repeat business for the hotel as a result.”
The Coral Gables Biltmore is not alone. Luxury operators such as the Ritz Carlton and Auberge brands have followed similar suit based upon consistent guest feedback.

Recently, the Ritz Carlton, Marina Del Rey, (Calif.), invested in a significant upgrade to its fitness center with an eye on tapping state-of-the-art products to satisfy the demand of a unique customer base. Due to its proximity to both the Los Angeles International Airport and the city’s sports and entertainment hubs, the hotel serves many of the professional sports teams that travel to Los Angeles regularly for games. Because of this, Ritz Carlton management required equipment representative of the cutting-edge and sophisticated exercise products that these elite athletes were accustomed to, as well as ensuring that certain specific training “categories,” including functional training, core training and overall strength and conditioning were represented. In addition, to maintain its upscale reputation, the facility needed the latest in entertainment features, including personal viewing screens and i-pod docking stations. However, a challenge to achieving all this was the limited space available within the hotel’s existing fitness center.

The entertainment needs were satisfied through cardiovascular equipment featuring Cardio Theater personal viewing screens and i-pod docking stations. However, satisfying the demands of the elite athletes frequenting the facility was another story. To accomplish these unique goals within the space limitations of the existing facility, several of the industry’s latest and most effective multipurpose functional training devices were utilized, including Icarian user-defined machines and core specific units such as the Ab-X by Precor. The unique focus on functional and core training methods that are at the heart of today’s elite training regimens, was fulfilled by the careful planning and selection of these new products. Furthermore, the equipment still needed to be flexible enough to allow for the ease of use necessary for the greater hotel guest population.

A bit further up the California coast in Northern California’s illustrious wine country is Auberge Resorts’ newest venue, Solage. The property located in Calistoga is a breathtaking resort getaway for business and vacation travelers set within this scenic American region.

Solage Calistoga attracts a more affluent traveler, not to mention a significant number of international visitors looking to experience the wine country in all its glory. To satisfy the needs of this upscale and international demographic, Solage’s management had a mindset fixed on fresh and alternative training methods, while capturing the natural beauty of the surrounding environment.

To achieve this, several measures were taken starting with a complete circuit of Paramount’s new European style SP line of commercial strength equipment. Highlighted by elegant silver framing and chocolate-toned upholstery, the SP line was consistent with the organic natural tones of the facility and surrounding environment. While innovative vibration training products continue to emerge as one of the fastest-growing categories in the mainstream U.S. fitness industry, they’ve been an accepted part of the mainstream European fitness industry for years. To this point, the Power Plate pro5, featuring state-of-the-art Advanced Vibration Technology, was utilized at Solage Calistoga to provide a truly state-of-the-art alternative to conventional fitness methods. A host of other products and accessories were brought to bear, representing a variety of alternative fitness methods from group pilates, kick boxing and yoga, to Lotte Berk-inspired Bar Method or Dailey Method classes.

These are examples of how cutting-edge, state-of-the-art products and accessories were utilized to achieve very unique goals for three very different facilities. In an industry marked by an unrelenting flow of new products and innovations, it’s critical to be aware of not only what’s out there, but what’s on the horizon. By keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s fresh and exciting in the industry, you can keep your facility fresh and exciting for your customers and increase profitability. Ultimately, that’s everyone’s bottom line.

Bryan Green is President and CEO of Advantage Fitness Products, a company dedicated to providing fitness solutions to non-fitness companies. AFP offers a full complement of services including Planning, Design, Supply, Service, and ongoing facility Support to help make fitness a valuable and profitable offering for clients across several industries including: Hospitality; Professional & Collegiate Sports; Education & Recreation; Property Management; Corporations; Municipalities & Government Organizations; Medical, Health & Wellness Organizations; and Private Clubs. For more information regarding Advantage Fitness Products and our solutions, please call us at 888-895-0547.