Did you hear?…Clubs see profits going hand-in-hand with implementation of green practices, according to survey

Is creating a green business becoming more of a reality within the fitness industry? Seems so, according to the results of a recent IHRSA survey -- if a green ka-ching is also part of the equation.

Going green in the fitness industry doesn’t seem like such a far-off concept anymore as IHRSA reported that 85 percent of health/sport clubs said their organization’s focus on green practices would increase in the future, and nearly half believed that green practices would increase club profits.

In its first-ever green survey report, IHRSA ( queried nearly 150 clubs to gain insight into their opinions and practices around environmental sustainability. Slower to adapt than other industries, fitness is starting to make sporadic strides as evidenced by the “green game” SNEWS reported on in late December 2009 between University of Kansas and Michigan where students powered KU’s Allen Fieldhouse with retrofitted ReRev equipment. (Click here to see the Dec. 21, 2009, SNEWS story.) Also, check out SNEWS coverage from the 2009 IHRSA show that highlighted several companies’ eco efforts, as well as former retail owner Ted Szoch’s concept of energy-harnessing equipment.

In general, IHRSA’s survey results found:

  •  More than two-thirds (70.7 percent) of participants indicated senior management has a strongly positive perspective on implementing green practices.
  • Over half of the clubs (54.7 percent) indicated that green practices have a moderate priority within their organization, with another one-third (33.1 percent) saying it was a high priority.
  • Six out of 10, or 65 percent, said they believe implementing green practices at their clubs will differentiate them from the competition.
  • More than one-third (35 percent) indicated that eco practices would increase membership growth, and 4 out of 10 (38.8 percent) believed it would increase membership retention.

While nearly 60 percent of clubs admitted they do not have a strategic plan around sustainability, they have implemented green practices such as recycling, the use of green cleaning supplies, water conservation, energy efficiency and green building/renovations. Nearly 30 percent indicated having a formal strategic plan.

The caveats to going green? Close to half of the surveyed clubs (45.3 percent) said they didn’t believe green practices would have an effect on membership growth, and more than a quarter (26.3 percent) said it wouldn’t affect profits. 

Unfortunately, respondents said the No. 1 barrier to adding/expanding green practices is other higher priorities (64.5 percent); not enough time/resources (45.5 percent); and too little green expertise within the organization (45.5 percent).

–Wendy Geister