Life Time Fitness: Not Your Father’s Gym

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For many people who’ve gone down the route of joining a gym vowing to hit goals and fading out after a few visits, it turns out to be a very bitter experience. Especially after you wind up locked into a multi-year contract while the health club you signed up with continues to drain your bank account on a monthly basis.

For Life Time Fitness, this way of doing business in the fitness industry is the antithesis of how the company approaches the relationship it has with its clients. And with the recent opening of a Garden City Life Time back in December, (the second in the New York area joining one that’s already running in Syosset), the Minnesota-based chain is set to spread the gospel of their results-based approach to fitness that’s already in practice in the other 116 sites it has around the country.LifeTime_032516A“We’re what you call a results-based culture or a culture of retention. Our memberships are month to month. There are no long-term contracts and there’s nothing keeping people here,” explained Life Time Athletic Garden City General Manager Phil Zerante. “Everything we do is designed so that when a member joins, they become connected to the club. We get them engaged in a program and put them on a path where they have the education, support and programming specifically designed for members to get involved in where we know that they’re using the club more. At the end of the day, if they’re using the club more and we deliver first-class programming, we’re more likely to see results.”

The three-story, nearly 180,000-square foot Garden City location, which was constructed for upwards of $30 million and opened this past December, has already exceeded expectations that were determined by the ongoing success of its Syosset sister center. And while the private company declines to provide membership numbers, Zerante admitted that Life Time had high hopes for the Garden City launch.

“We have a really high benchmark criteria for where we build a club that looks at everything from the demographics and density, to accessability to the roads, to drive times members face. It also looks at what percentage of the people in the area are families and what other options they may have in terms of where else they may be going for a healthy way of life,” Zerante said. “When we looked at it, Garden City was just across the board—it hit every checkpoint that we look for. This was one of the most anticipated openings we had in a long time because we just knew that it was going to be great.”

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Life Time Athletic Garden City offers more than 100 group fitness classes weekly including dance, spin, pilates, yoga, strength training, circuit training and more.

With more than 80 group fitness classes and kids programming being the most popular options, members have plenty to choose from at a center that is goes far beyond mere circuit training. While there are classes geared towards different interests including yoga, Pilates and studio cycling, the Kids Academy has proven to enjoy significant popularity in both the Garden City and Syosset locations. Geared towards children from three months to 11 years, it is a membership program that costs $60 a month per child and is led by certified experts committed to childhood development. There are more than 65 classes offered weekly that include karate, yoga, music, Spanish immersion, tumbling and sports skills.

“The goal [of the Kids Academy] was not to just offer child supervision. We want to provide a safe secure environment [for members’ children] and put them into some enrichment programs so they can live a healthy way of life too,” Zerante said. “The studios are designed just for them. They essentially have their own membership, their own class and their own instructors, which makes it by far one of the most popular programs since we opened.”

Members can use either Long Island location and both centers are open seven days a week from 4 a.m. to midnight. Pricing for singles, couples and families range from $159 to upper $300s. Zerante pointed out that Life Time offers so much because the multi-billion dollar fitness industry has evolved into being far more than just calories in and calories out or sitting on a piece of equipment and going through a routine. It is that focus on customer retention by having them achieve their goals is what sets his company apart from its competitors.

“Life Time is kind of on the leading edge [of the fitness industry]. We do everything from metabolic assessment profiles to lab testing and are able to go deep into the overall health of someone’s metabolism and build a program for them,” he said “Over the course of the first 30 days of someone’s membership, these on-board specialists are meeting with them and going through these assessments, building programs for them. What we’re seeing is that the members going through that process are using the club more and at the end of the day, we know that they’re staying with us longer.”

Life Time is located on 1000 Zeckendorf Blvd. in Garden City. Visit www.lifetimeathletic.com/gardencity or call 516-580-7100 to find out more about Life Time.

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In addition to being editor of Garden City Life and Syosset-Jericho Tribune, Dave Gil de Rubio is a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly, specializing in music and sports features. He has won several awards for writing from Press Club of Long Island (PCLI).

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