Blog Post

FITNESS BUSINESS INTERVIEW - With John Cardillo

Fitness Business Interview

"We are building a bridge in the middle of the medical-fitness gap with exercise intelligence, quality of advice and professional staff. We are not selling memberships anymore we are providing a prescription for health."

- John Cardillo
CEO Premier Fitness Clubs

How many clubs are there now under the Premier/Mademoiselle banner?

We currently have 32 clubs with several new ones being rolled out this year in Ontario. We are serving over 150,000 members in these locations. Our intention is to build new clubs from the ground up and introduce the Premier/Mademoiselle brand across Canada in the next few years.

Why have you decided to focus on the Health Centres as the foundation of your new approach to business?

There is a compelling reason to develop the kind of services these centres will provide to people in all age groups but in particular to the aging population and those with any kind of injury or physical challenges. We are building a bridge in the middle of the medical-fitness gap with exercise intelligence, quality of advice and professional staff. We are not selling memberships, we are providing prescriptions for health. Many are giving this concept lip service in the Canadian health club industry, but no one is actually doing it, to my knowledge. Our Health Centres and the staff we employ are going to take a proactive role in connecting these two disciplines to provide an unparalleled continuum of care for our members in every facility.

Why is this approach important?

I think our industry needs to elevate the level and quality of service that we offer to the public. This can be accomplished by clubs hiring proper accredited health professionals such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, medical doctors and kinesiologists who are truly qualified to prescribe the proper exercise regimen that a member should follow in order to achieve better health and make fitness part of their everyday activity. Most members are seeking professional advice, and we will provide it through qualified staff.

What else will be needed to make this successful?

Unless club owners start understanding that we are really in the "health and wellness care" business and not the muscle pumping business, we're no better off than we were ten years ago. That is why we are investing in medically supported equipment that the medical field respects for diagnosing and curing the most common everyday ailments - cervical (whiplash), lower back (discs) and knees (ligaments & cartilage). My investment in this equipment is based on my core belief that for our industry to be respected, we must offer our members the best scientific/medically based service available.

Is there any thing that you would do differently if you had the chance to do it over?

I've tended to stay out of the main stream, not associating with industry peers or being active in industry associations. I've done my own thing with an "I'll do it alone attitude," which I realize now in some ways has been a mistake. For example, I spent a great deal of money to develop my own customized computer system and still couldn't get the information I needed to run my business. The mishaps of this customized computer system set my company back because of its limitations and it was very unreliable. In getting frustrated, I decided to investigate other systems that clubs were using and found one that gives my accounts and everything we need when we need it. In the future, it makes good business sense for me to get involved with industry groups and other club owner/operators.

So what does the future hold for your business?

We took a bold step to build our first Premier "Concept Club" in Hamilton. Using my "wish list" for what a club should be, we built it from the ground up, with no compromises in creating the look and feel of the surroundings and the services offered. This is Premier/Mademoiselle's future and each new Club will be a complete lifestyle centre with a range of amenities under one roof. Each of these new concept clubs will encompass Health Centre clinicswhere an MD and physiotherapists are on hand to deal with a variety of member needs. This is part of my commitment to provide Premier members with the "perfect exercise tools" regardless of their age or ability.