Sunday, September 9, 2012

At Pyramid Fitness, we care DEEPLY about our members and their opinions. We feel that although we manage the facility, it belongs to our members and guests, and so we take note of your opinions and whenever possible, try to make changes to make P-Fit better for everyone. Last week, we put ourselves out there and asked all of our current and former members to let us know what they like--and what they do not like--about Pyramid Fitness. We got so many wonderful comments--thank you!--and so many excellent suggestions. So that everyone knows your comments and suggestions were heard, I wanted to respond to each one below:

"Looking forward to the new treadmills."
Thanks--so are we! They just arrived today!

"Clean up the shower in the bathroom or install another small shower, separate from the bathroom ( to not interfere with the bathroom needs of others ), and allow members the opportunity to wash up before work, or post workout."
This is a great idea...and while it sounds easy, this sort of change is VERY difficult in an old building, because it would involve installing new plumbing, taking space from the facility that we desperately need, etc. When we opened P-Fit, we made a conscious choice NOT to have the whole locker room scene. I've worked in health clubs for a very long time, and almost every problem I have ever encountered in health clubs has been the result of the locker rooms. Every bad thing that can happen in a health club seems to happen in the locker rooms---thefts, fights, lewd behavior, bacterial problems in and around the showers, and the embarrassment of changing/showering in front of other people. We don't want these problems at P-Fit! Also, the price of water in Rutland is outrageous, and if we pay for people to take showers, we would have to increase the price of membership dramatically. As a very small facility that is trying to build its membership, it does not seem like a wise decision to make such a huge change at this time; however, if we continue to grow and have to move to a new location, we will definitely consider adding sanitary showers. In the meantime, we are always trying to add new classes during the day that will be challenging without causing a great deal of sweat, and one can complete the Nautilus circuit in 20-30 minutes during the day without a huge amount of we are hoping that people will appreciate our affordable rates instead of the full-blown locker/shower scene.

"Offering all the classes at one location would be a little more convenient but I understand why this may not be possible."
This would be ideal to have the entire Pyramid in one location; however, there are currently no spaces in the downtown area that could accommodate all of the types of space we need in one building. We're at a very unique time in the development of our business, because we have built up a following now in each type of class that we do--fitness, yoga, martial arts, and dance--and everyone wants their classes at the most popular times. Operating two different studios at the same time is the only way we can make sure that all of our customers will have at least two classes per week in their ideal time slots.

"Can't think of a thing. Oh yes, how about some more "oldie songs" in cardio-kickboxing?"
You got it! Coming soon!

"The new air conditioner will be great but I think the workout room needs 3 ceiling fans. Because the heat cannot be adjusted in the winter it becomes stifling in there at times. we open the windows but that does nothing for the people on the door end of the room. Ceiling fans would ensure good air flow in both summer and winter."
We're currently exploring the option of putting in ceiling fans. There are electrical and space issues in each of our studios that make this difficult--but we're willing to see what we can do!

"The website could use some help! It would be cool to see some pictures of the classes in action and maybe a video on your Facebook page/website. More photos of the facility would be cool to see as well. I love Pyramid!"
Thank you--the Pyramid loves you, too! ; ) We are in the process of converting our website to a different format that will make it easier to navigate, and most importantly, easier for us to update quickly. We've made some temporary improvements to the website already, but in the next couple of weeks, you will see an entirely revamped website! The new website will have awesome pictures and videos...and we are working on a YouTube video that will help show what we are all about!

"Wash the blankets regularly and replace the tattered yoga mats."
Hmmmmm. We really just have the mats and blankets here as a courtesy. Although many health clubs provide these for their members and guests, there are many reasons why it is better for people to have their own blankets and mats. Especially when using the mats, the oils from your skin interact with the yoga mats and they are really designed for one person. We encourage all of our guests and members to bring their own for sanitary reasons, but we have these loaners on hand for people to borrow when necessary. That said, the mats are antibacterial and we do wash them fairly regularly. I am sorry that I have not seen any tattered mats. As membership increases, these are things that we are happy to invest in. Washing the blankets is a bit harder because you cannot just throw them into a regular washer, but we will keep this in mind for sure!

"Accessibility other than THOSE stairs!"
Assuming you mean the stairs at P-Fit, there is another option. If you enter our building from Evelyn Street, there is an elevator and a back entrance to P-Fit. Since we usually keep the back door locked, just give us a head's up of a quick phone call when you arrive (802-775-1880) and we can let you in the back entrance if there is not a class going on.

"The smell in the rooms is bad. smells like a sewer."
Unfortunately, Rutland's sewer system has issues. Whenever there is heavy rain or what I would consider extreme weather, the smell of the sewer gets "ripe" and permeates into most downtown buildings to some degree. That said, I've never smelled it outside of our stairwell. I've been told that there is nothing we can do about this smell...but if you do smell it, alert the Guest Services team member and they will let me know and we can look into it. Sorry our place has been smelly! (Are you sure it's not just me after kickboxing?) : )

"Have early morning classes."
There are two main reasons we do not have early morning instructors to teach them, and low attendance. The bottom line is that we need more members and more instructors in the area to make morning classes work. If you can find at least four people willing to commit for at least two months to a time slot, I promise to do my best to find an instructor for you. Give me more feedback...what time are you thinking? What types of classes?

"Advertise the student massages so we can plan to get one."
The student massages are typically on Sundays...we always post them on Facebook, so be sure to watch there. They fill up very fast, so we don't usually have to advertise much! If you'd like, call the main Pyramid number (802-775-8080) to schedule an appointment for the next available opening.

"better air conditioning"
Got it. Agree. Working on it!

"I wish there were more cardio classes and kickboxing classes during the day. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays."
Again, this is an issue of not enough instructors and low attendace. If you can get at least four people who are willing to commit for two months, I promise to do my best to locate an instructor and open up the class. It's REALLY tough to get good instructors in Vermont, and the ones who are here are already stretched to the max. (I would love to add another class but I'm already teaching 11 classes per week!)

"I have knee problems so both the tread mills and the elypticals are out for me (tendonosis). I would love to see an updated bike/spinning machine in the main room. It's isolated and too hot in the other room and you feel on display there when people come in and out from the bathroom and changing rooms."
Got it. We will see if we can move the spin bike into the main area. I don't know if you are saying that the spin bike needs to be updated, but it is a very recent top-of-the-line model that is used in most health clubs around the country.

"Would like to see a strength training class that concentrates more on lifting weights to increase muscle and use of stability balls."
Be sure to check out Tuesday night at 5:30 for an awesome strength class. Please note also that many of our classes, including Laurie's Wednesday night class and my Sunday at 9 AM, include some strength. All of our classes will actually build muscle because they involve very focused, controlled movements. We would love to do a stability ball class, but we do not have the room to store the numbers of balls we would need. One option would be to have you bring your own balls...I will talk to the instructors and see if this is something we could coordinate!

"I found the prohibition against "street shoes" difficult to work around during a busy work day. I couldn't just make a drop-in visit unless I was prepared in advance with the right shoes. On the flip side, I know that it helps to keep your facility clean and I appreciate that. If you had lockers or changing rooms for folks like me (downtown as part of my work day), I could more easily incorporate fitness into my day. Heat during the summer months was a huge issue but I do see that you are working to address that problem. Classes need to begin and end as scheduled."
I am not actually aware of ANY health facility that allows street shoes. Some clubs are just so big that they don't care. But in a small center like ours, we notice, and even one person coming in with street shoes will make a huge mess all around the's not just an issue of wanting to look tidy--the debris that is tracked in can get into the electronics of the treadmills and destroy them. It is fine to do the Nautilus and even some classes in stocking feet. While we do not have lockers, we do have places to change, and I am sure we could figure out some place to store your shoes if that is the only reason you have for not working out! As far as the class times, this is also good feedback--thanks! Our instructors--like our members--are INCREDIBLY busy, drive from other cities to teach, etc. We do our best to start and end on time...unless I am missing something, the only issue has been my 9 AM time slots, and I always make sure that if I am a few minutes late, the members and guests get a more-than-adequate workout. Otherwise, I think we do a very good job managing a ridiculously full schedule!

"Increased weekend hours- starting at 7 would be great."
"Can you explore whether there is a market for slightly later hours? Say, until 9? I work about an hour out of town so it can be difficult at times for me to fit the gym and all my other necessary errands into my schedule when I'm not getting back into town until 6 pm."
It sounds like such an easy thing to open just one hour earlier or stay open one hour later. While we do our best to try to accommodate everyone and eliminate ALL excuses for not working out, this is a bit more challenging than it sounds. Staying open one hour later, for example, increases our expenses by about $500 a month. So although every member is important, typically we have not had anyone working out after the fitness classes end for months. Besides that, our staff members are here VERY long hours already, and I think Josh on the weekends would quit if I asked him to get here another hour earlier! ; ) All of that said, I am going to go out on a limb here, and if you are willing to help us increase our membership so that we have at least ten new members willing to commit to coming in at any given time slot, I will find a way to increase our hours.

"More equipment for abs/mid section. Music in the gym...for days I forget my ear buds ;)"
My opinion is that equipment for the mid section is in general the most dangerous, improperly used, and USELESS equipment in any gym. It is frankly a waste of time and space! Most fitness experts agree with this to the point where legitimate professional grade companies are not even making core machines anymore. I do not know ANY human being alive who needs stronger cores--there is just a huge buzz in the fitness industry now about core this and core that. Everyone wants stronger cores, but the reality is that most people already have very adequately strong cores---the muscles are usually just buried under a layer of abdominal fat and the way to lose that is through healthy eating and increased cardio/overall strength. In my opinion, there is nothing  that can be done with a core machine that you cannot do without a mat and a weight--and these exercises are far less likely to injure you than a machine. If you need help learning some great exercises for the core that will not injure you, check with a staff member, or take advantage of meeting with our incredible personal trainer and director of fitness, Josh Moore. Josh works exclusively at the Pyramid, and if you've ever seen his core, which he built without the use of any machines, it is inspiring. Most YMCA's do not even bother purchasing core machines anymore because they are so ineffective and injure so many people. All of that said, we do have one very important piece of equipment for the core, and that is the lower back extension piece, and I would recommend that and it is the only one you need to develop core strength. Other equipment that we have can work the core as well--leg lifts on the cable cross, etc., if you are really feeling the need for equipment. But in general, machines are not helpful for the core. Now, music in the gym...we also made a conscious decision NOT to have blaring music. The only fight I ever broke up in a health club I was working at was around the radio...two testosterone-inflated guys got into fist fights over what radio station was playing! We could put the radio on loudly, but then someone is bound not to like the type of music playing...and while some people feel pumped up by music, other people are distracted by it---which is the same reason we do not have televisions in the center. We want people to really focus on their workouts and form to avoid getting injured. In this world with iPods, we figure that anyone who really cannot workout without music probably already has an iPod...and for those who do not (or if they forgot it!), we purchased 6 MP3 players, and these are behind the reception desk filled with a wide variety of music for anyone to borrow at any time!

"Senior discounts would be helpful. It is important to keep prices down ty."
While I understand the trend in many industries to offer senior discounts, we have bypassed this idea by offering VERY low cost memberships to EVERYONE. I don't know if you have priced fitness club memberships, but not only are we the LOWEST in town, but we are one of the lowest in the nation. For what we have to offer, $50-75/month would be what you might expect to pay at another Vermont facility. If our center was in a big city, you might expect to pay $120/month or more for what we offer. Most facilities charge $12--$15--$20--even $30 per class for what we charge $6. And if you don't know, we have a special limited membership for $20/month! We are hoping that seniors will take advantage of this $20/month limited membership, but we've opened it up so EVERYONE can enjoy that low price. Please know that we do everything in our power to keep our prices low...and although we've been open for almost two years now, we have not increased our prices ONCE while every other health club has. The operating costs of EVERYTHING have increased since we've opened, and yet we've managed to not raise prices. Add to that all of the perks--the free pool membership, the discounts on services at Pyramid Wellness, the free or reduced priced classes and workshops for our members, etc., and no other facility can touch what we have to offer for double, triple, or even quadruple the price. I would recommend calling around to other facilities to see what they are doing to get a better sense of the true value of Pyramid Fitness!

"Child care for little ones!!!"
"Child care for free with membership"
Another great idea. We'd love to do this, even though we don't really have the space for a child care center. But the main reason we do not is not because of space. Unfortunately, as soon as you put a child care service in your business, it dramatically bumps up your liability risk in the insurance companies' eyes, and it will quadruple your liability insurance premium. This would force us to have to increase our prices a great deal just to cover our operating expenses--let alone pay the child care worker. I'm not sure how any facility could offer this service for free, although I certainly wish we could offer all of our services for free. We're not trying to make it rich off this business, but we do need to be able to pay our expenses. For those of you with children over the age of seven, do you know that we have a special deal worked out with the Boys and Girls Club? For $15, you can get childcare through them for an entire year that includes activities and even meals! Or you can pay $1/hour as needed. (This might as well be free!) For those of you with children under the age of seven, I might recommend childcare sharing.

"4:00 or 4:30 classes"
Currently we offer a Monday 4 PM Gentle Yoga class that is only $5 for our members, a Tuesday 4 PM Mixed Martial Arts class that is taught by donation only, a Wednesday 4 PM Circuit class free to members, a Thursday 4 PM Mixed Martial Arts class that is taught by donation only, and a Friday 4 PM Circuit class that is free to members. We would consider making additions here, but again, we run into the issue of no instructor availability and low attendance. If you can help us get four or more people to commit to a particular type of class for two months, I will do my best to find an instructor.

"Have a ball in the back room w the hand dumbells."
Great idea. Balls are currently in the studio so they don't roll around and trip people up---you can grab one anytime!

"I think better advertising to gain more members..."
Well, this survey shows that almost 60% of our members past and present came to us because of word of mouth. Only 1% saw our ads in the local papers, 3% saw our tv ads or heard the radio ads, 7% saw us on Facebook, 27% heard about us from the Pyramid website, 5% heard about us from our Pyramid newsletter, and 20% saw the facility from the street. Add that up--only 4% of our members came to us because of the paid advertising that we do. And we do a LOT...we regularly advertise in the Mountain Times, in the Rutland Herald, in the Vermont Country Sampler, and we have ads on tv and radio whenever we can. This week, we will have a new ad on WJJR radio. But we get the most members from word of mouth. So if you are having a good experience at Pyramid Fitness, we hope that you will help us spread the word. Tell everyone you know--and if anyone you tell actually signs up, YOU get a referral bonus! See a Guest Services team member for more information about that!

We've also listened to direct feedback you've given us---making changes to the class schedule to try to eliminate some of the crowding, changing the entryway to make it more clear where to go when you get to the top of the stairs, putting a scale in the bathroom (despite our better judgment), getting the spin bike, etc.

Thanks to everyone who has provided feedback in any way--thank you for supporting the Pyramid, and please know that we appreciate you and your business so much and hope we can play a part in getting and keeping you in the best shape of your life!

Be well!
William Kelley

1 comment:

  1. Eat well and be well. The Farm's Wellness Holiday Retreat puts you in a unique experience with our wellness center to enjoy healthy food, activities and more!