“Twenty-five percent of gym members are not happy with their health clubs, according to a recent survey” (quoted from Club Industry, January 25, 2017). The article further state that “… researchers said that the satisfaction of health club members is primarily determined by overall value received for money paid; the quality of weightlifting equipment; the quality of racquetball courts; the instruction and overall workout quality in a fitness class; and the instruction and overall workout quality in yoga sessions.”

 

When I first read the tag line for this article emailed to me, I immediately wondered why club owners wouldn’t take proper care of their courts. After all, this isn’t a cheap investment and the prefinished wood panels are fabricated in such a way that they are basically maintenance-free and can easily outlast the facility!  After reading further, it was clear to me this isn’t just about racquetball but satisfaction is down with other components within the facility.  Racquetball courts just happen to be more visible than other activities since it takes a lot of space to house a racquetball court.

 

Since racquetball is our forté, I want to address racquetball being lumped into this “unhappy” category. My question is what are club owners or managers doing to keep the courts occupied?  Do they have members who play racquetball?  Do they have a pro on-site giving lessons?  Are they cleaning and properly maintaining the courts? Is their facility hosting any special events or tournaments in a hope of gaining more interest or more members?  Have facility owners tried to incorporate other groups such as wallyball? A club can build the courts, but they need to be responsible for properly programming the courts (and club) in a way to utilize them to their fullest ability.  If the club owners or managers neglect to do any of this, then they are their own worst enemy regarding success with racquetball within their facility.

 

From our perspective, we’re not seeing multi-court facilities being built as much as we did 5, 10, 15+ years ago.  Lifetime Fitness dropped their courts (compared to just a few years ago), Gold’s Gym locations are sporadic, LA Fitness court construction has drastically reduced, but on the flipside, YMCAs are starting to inquire more, residential or private courts are on the incline, and so forth.  Even though there is still building going on, the decline of 5+ court facilities could be due to a variety of reasons: not enough space in the building, too many existing courts in their market area, no idea how to program for racquetball, not knowing that other sports or activities can be scheduled in the courts, etc.  From a construction perspective, we still see the construction of racquetball courts in a variety of different types of markets, but we’re also seeing an uptick in squash court construction or courts that can be used for both racquetball and squash.  So, there is a need and on-going use for courts – whether that’s for racquetball or squash players.

 

So, any declining satisfaction with club members with respect to racquetball courts needs to be evaluated further from the owners or managers since it’s not an issue with the actual product installed but more an issue of how that space is being utilized.  I’ve always said “If you build it, they will come” but you can’t just integrate courts into the facility and assume they’ll take care of themselves…the owners and managers need to have the right tools and people in place to take advantage of their court investment.

 

Now play on!

Erika D. Milligan

#Racquetball #RacquetballCourtConstruction #CourtCompany