Their member focus has paid off and many of their members have stayed with them for well over a decade. Read on to find out their key plays and best practices for happy and loyal members. We spoke to Alex Rojnov, the son of the founder and currently the Manager of the club.
Tell us about your club and services.
Alex: We are a family business. My father started the business with a small solarium club in 1996 in the city center. After the soviet time, there were lots of commercial spaces free and my father wanted to start his own business. He was a professional athlete and going into the fitness business was a natural fit. In Moldova, the Fitness Industry is very young, and we do not have a culture where it is common to have a membership at a fitness club. We had a large gym floor in the early days and group fitness was not our priority back then. After my father visited IHRSA, he decided to put more focus on group fitness. He had tried Les Mills BODYCOMBAT® at the trade show and decided right there to bring it to Moldova. We partnered with Les Mills in 2014. We want to offer our members high-quality classes that are also safe and professionally produced. For us, Les Mills is the best partner because of their dedication. We get constant support and care that helps us in producing high-quality group fitness. I jokingly call it Les Mills magic. Our services include group fitness studios, a separate virtual studio, a gym, and an outdoor pool.
And how about your members?
Alex: Many of our members have been with us for over 10 years. Our members’ age range is from young adults to people in their mid-40s, the latter being the largest group. We are a private gym, it is not our goal to be as full as possible, rather we want to have space for and focus on the existing members and make them feel special. Many clubs have a strategy to get more people in the club through continuous discounts, but we believe that business-wise that is not a sustainable way. We try to focus on the promise for the members rather than a discount. We intend to create our own unique culture inside our club, where each member is as important as the next.
How do you keep your members engaged?
Alex: Over 50% of our member visits come from group fitness and we know that to be a factor when it comes to member engagement. We arrange events at the club regularly and we find they are a nice way to engage the members. This year we participated in the Les Mills Stronger campaign with hundreds of clubs from around the world. We wanted to bring something new to the format of our events and make our members excited and want to participate and the Stronger campaign gave us a great opportunity to do so. We decided to mix the programs and bring them as promotional classes of 3 tracks each. We started with BODYPUMP® and mixed it up with Les Mills CORE® and ended up with some soothing tracks of BODYBALANCE®. Another fun activity at the event was our GRIT challenges, where the members were challenged to do 3 different moves with a certain number of repetitions. We had nice prizes, like goody bags that also included free class passes to give to a friend or use for themselves. Outside the club, we do use social media for engaging with members. We are active on Instagram, and we do all the posts ourselves. We are invested and love what we do. To keep members happy and engaged we also make sure to offer new services and develop. We have for example invested in virtual programs as well in addition to 9 Live group fitness programs.
What do the virtual programs bring to your members and the club?
Alex: Our cycling studio was pretty much empty most of the time, even though cycling is very popular in Moldova. We started the virtual programs with cycling and have since expanded them into a large group fitness studio. Group fitness brings results for our members and our business. We use the virtual classes as an introduction to the live classes for the members who want to try a program before attending a live class. The virtual classes also work well as a substitute in case we have an instructor who calls in sick last minute. Our members can choose from various memberships. They can choose to only participate in live classes or only virtual ones or make full use of the whole package and services.
Can you tell us about your team?
Alex: We wanted to develop a professional team who can create an experience for our members. Les Mills programs are well structured, the instructors get clear rules to follow, and the quality is always excellent. It is about personalities and finding the right mix. I have attended Les Mills educations such as Group Fitness Management and Advanced Training and got so many tools and tips from them for developing our instructor team. We took all our customer managers to Les Mills LIVE in Stockholm because we wanted them to know what the hype is about. So, all of them know what the classes are like and can talk to the customers about them.
When the pandemic and quarantine started, I got a message from an Indonesian girl who was living here with her husband. Her dream had always been to become an instructor. She searched online for her favorite Les Mills classes and found our club. She registered for an online Initial Training, and I invited her to the club. I supported her and coached her on her way to becoming an instructor. So, we now have an Indonesian girl here in Moldova who teaches classes in English and our members love her. This profession is driven by passion, it isn’t about money. Passion helps us to do what we do and do it for a long time and still enjoy it.
What do you expect from the future?
Alex: Moldova is very small and club owners do not understand that group fitness is an important part of the business. We know from experience that group fitness brings us the business results we want. There are no other clubs in Moldova that do what we do in the group fitness space, and we want to spread it to other clubs and the culture as well. There is a really good quality fitness club located in another city in Moldova and they were thinking of starting with Les Mills classes. We arranged to do promotional classes there but then unfortunately the war in Ukraine forced them to stop. We invited their instructors to our club to try some of the classes anyway and we hope the situation will get better for them soon. It was just a great example of how Les Mills unites people and brings them together.