Since most gym members’ goals include weight loss, can supplements help them?

by  Kat Barefied, MS, RD

There are very few supplements that mimic the actions of successful prescription drugs used for weight loss. Meal replacement bars and shakes are the only supplements that actually work and might be all you want to offer in the club, unless you’re partnering with a scientific advisory board (including registered dietitians) that will review dietary supplements before you offer them. The goal of incorporating a dietary supplement into a weight loss program, should you choose to go that route, is to assist the user in complying with the daily routine that leads to weight reduction, making an otherwise very difficult chore easier and quicker.

Meal replacements and weight loss

In all studies, meal replacement (MRs) bars and shakes used for one or two meals daily are shown to be an extremely effective aid to weight reduction and, in almost all cases, two times more effective than conventional methods of diet alone. Most importantly, continuous use of MRs may be the most effective means of all treatments when it comes to maintaining weight loss. Another true selling point isn’t just the results they deliver, but also the savings on the user’s monthly grocery bill.

Other potentially helpful weight loss supplements

Herbal combinations such as caffeine, green tea components and capsaicin have been clinically shown to be effective in producing significant effects on metabolic targets such as satiety (feeling of fullness), thermogenesis (increasing metabolism) and fat oxidation (increased use of fat for daily energy needs). These natural substances are well established for increasing calorie burn and are therefore used in many weight loss supplements as “fat burners,” but not necessarily in the right doses. These ingredients must be present in the proper amounts in order to be effective, which is why any supplement you offer should be reviewed by a scientific advisory board. Effective amounts will vary depending on a person’s size. For example, 150-300 mg of caffeine, 10 mg of capsaicin and 270 mg of EGCG from green tea per dose.

How can clubs make money selling nutritional products?

Use proper positioning with your captive audience.

It’s a fact that 84% of gym goers purchase supplements, giving you a captive audience, but you must present your offering as something special. Your core business is fitness; therefore your supplements should be positioned as part of your fitness programs (e.g. with personal training, menu plans, etc.). Also, any supplements you carry should not be available through mass retail channels, allowing you to be unique and keystone the product. Your products are produced for your population, which diffuses the argument that someone can find them cheaper somewhere else.

Do your homework: partner with someone to teach your professionals to sell only professional products.

Carry only products that have legitimate support – i.e. ingredient dosages that match the positive results demonstrated in current science – and prove it. This allows staff (especially personal trainers) buy-in during product training. Personal Trainers are viewed as the “club champions.” Properly trained and held accountable, they will be the ones who drive the majority of your supplement sales by connecting the products to their fitness programs. Products are discussed as integral parts of fitness programs to safely help accelerate goals. Clubs that are successful at accomplishing the above sell no less than $10K/month and maintain a 40-50% margin. That’s a higher margin than anything else sold in a fitness facility.

In summary, scientifically validated supplements can help your members reach their fitness goals, and they can help you and your staff reach (and exceed) your financial goals. It’s just a matter of proper execution and offering the right products.

About the Author: 

Kat Barefield, MS, RD, holds a bachelor’s of science degree in athletic training and a master’s of science degree in sports nutrition. She is a registered dietitian and member of the American Dietetic Association. Kat has been a NASM Certified Personal Trainer since 1997 and is also a NASM performance enhancement specialist (PES). She also holds the Health and Fitness Specialist certification from the American College of Sports Medicine, and has over 12 years of experience in the health and fitness industry and has helped numerous individuals reach their health, fitness and weight management goals.

Kat served as a National Instructor for the Apex Fitness Group for several years creating and delivering exercise, nutrition and weight control workshops, seminars and certification courses. She was part of the development team for the bodybugg calorie management system and is currently the manager of Research and Development for dotFIT, LLC. Kat enjoys writing and developing e-learning tools including consumer articles, nutrition and weight control programs and services, continuing education courses, product demos and interactive tutorials.

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The GGFA is heard and respected as the unified voice of all franchisees. We are involved in all decisions that affect our brand and the franchisees. It is our goal to secure Gold’s Gym as the most profitable franchising opportunity in the fitness industry and the number one fitness brand in the world.

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About GGFA

The Gold's Gym Franchisee Association is the independent voice of the Gold's Gym franchisees.
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