Wellington gym scene changing

JOSEPH ROMANOS
Last updated 10:15 30/11/2012
Rob Walker
JOSEPH ROMANOS
Innovation: Rob Walker has latched on to another idea to attract customers to the gym at Club Kelburn.

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Rob Walker, the innovative manager of Club Kelburn in Salamanca Rd, has introduced another idea to bring in customers to his squash and gym complex.

Walker, who has managed Club Kelburn since 1994, has tried all sorts of innovations, ranging from a doubles court, to setting up a gymnasium, to introducing a soft- ball version of squash, to adding basketball hoops on some courts.

Now he is focused on the gymnasium side of his business and has followed a trend that has been pioneered by some of the smaller gyms about town, most notably Jetts Fitness.

"The gym scene is changing rapidly," Walker said. "I saw it when I was in Australia last year.

"The two big innovations are 24-hour gyms and dispensing with contracts for customers. I'm not so worried about the 24-hour development, because the number of people who are eager to have a workout at 3am is pretty limited.

"The no-contract idea is really changing the gym scene, though."

Instead of offering one-year contracts, with customers locked into an expensive upfront fee, some smaller gyms have now dispensed with contracts.

"At Club Kelburn, there is a $50 signing on fee, and after that customers simply pay $10 a week for the right to use the gym.

"That's proved very popular and we've added about 30 per cent to our gym membership.

"There's also a $20 per week gym and squash deal that has attracted quite a few takers."

Walker said he was encouraged by what had happened, considering Wellington was not an easy market.

"In Wellington job numbers have dwindled, with layoffs among government employees. So we've been happy to increase our membership."

He felt it would not be easy for the big gyms to respond.

"It was easy for us to change, but some of the big gyms have large loans and need to guarantee their income with those upfront fees. This new development will be a challenge for them."

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