Home » Episode #498: Inside the Atlantic Clubs’ Post-COVID Revamp with Kevin McHugh

We're excited to welcome back Kevin McHugh, a legend in the HALO sector and a key player in helping reinvent the Atlantic Club. (Check out his first episode here if you missed it.) Host Pete Moore sits down with Kevin and delves into how the Atlantic Club took the challenging COVID-19 shutdown as an opportunity to completely rethink and transform their business model and facilities.

Kevin provides an in-depth look at the strategic decisions and renovations that not only helped them recover post-COVID but have also positioned them for future success. From creating a spacious new fitness layout to establishing a booming pickleball center, Kevin reveals the honest conversations, tough decisions, and innovative thinking that went into revitalizing the space. This episode is packed with insights on leadership, member engagement, and trend-setting in the fitness industry.

"If you left the club in 2022, the new Atlantic Club today is nothing like it was. We're a brand new club, brand new progress, brand new facilities, brand new equipment . . .  and it was all about being ready so we could be where we need to be in 2025," stresses McHugh.

Key themes discussed

  • Adapting business during COVID, modifying facilities for safety.
  • Transitioning the space to unify community and improve facilities.
  • Listed 20 areas of potential complaints, addressed each.
  • Decision making: Data, gut, conviction, and trust your community.
  • Advocating for Health & Fitness Association (formerly IHRSA) and networking for trends.
  • Excited for the future of Health and Fitness Association.

A few key takeaways:

1. The pandemic provided an involuntary pause that allowed the Atlantic Club to rethink and redesign their entire business model and campus layout. This included implementing social distancing measures by moving the free weight equipment to a separate area and creating spacious cardio and group exercise rooms.

2. Management did not shy away from making bold decisions, such as converting the gymnasium into a spinning studio and later into a comprehensive fitness area. They anticipated and managed short-term pain for long-term gain, with the goal of better positioning themselves for the future.

3. Kevin emphasized the importance of effectively communicating changes to both staff and members. They involved managers in the planning process, addressed potential complaints ahead of time, and made sure everyone understood the long-term vision and benefits of the renovations.

4. The Atlantic Club's approach was holistic, addressing not only fitness but also mental wellness, refreshment areas, and personal training. The introduction of services like a high-intensity studio, personalized training studios, and pickleball courts (in place of a turf center) showcased their commitment to offering varied experiences for members.

5. McHugh also underscored the value of staying connected with industry peers through platforms like the Health & Fitness Association (formerly IHRSA.) Leveraging insights and trends from other successful operators helped refine their strategy and supported the rationale for their bold moves.


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