I remember the day when we decided to invest in a recovery zone.
It was 2018, and a day would not go by without someone discussing compression boots.
Many of our athletes paid $50-70 per week (on top of our membership) to go to recovery centres, where they’d sit in boots and have a sauna.
They’d been asking us for months to do it ourselves (and even said they’d pay for it just because it’s more convenient).
So Lachy and I eventually got rubber-armed and invested in three pairs of boots and two massage guns. Back then, it was about $10,000, plus the cost of reclining chairs.
While we saw it as a huge opportunity to add value to the athletes, we didn’t think we’d come out as the real winners.
But we did…
Because our first recovery zone gave us something we had never had.
It gave athletes a reason to stay, well after their training session was finished.
Athletes would train, boot up, and then study or hang out for 2-3 hours, often alongside other athletes.
Friendships were made.
Bonds were formed.
And if memory serves me correctly, there were even a couple of recovery ‘dates.’
(Lachy and I joke that you know you’ve got a strong community when the members are bangin’… but that’s a story for another day.)
But in all seriousness, outside of the intangible benefits to the community (which I can’t understate enough), there was a heap of measurable improvements too:
– Athlete attendance nearly doubled (even in-season).
– It allowed us to increase our prices, adding over $100,000 in yearly recurring revenue (for what cost about $15,000).
– It attracted new athletes into our facility; one of our members Jules (who is still training with us four years later), came in to use our boots… and loved it so much she never wanted to leave.
So when we had the chance to move to our new facility (the one we’re in now), we naturally assumed that more would be better.
We spent $180,000 on a spa and ice plunge pool (most of which were the building costs to create a custom wetroom for the beast of a thing).
And, instead of following our proven formula and putting the boots in a high-traffic area, we tucked it in the corner away from everything else, not realising that the biggest drawcard of recovery rooms is the sense of connection it creates (so it can’t be at the periphery; it needs to be at the ‘heart’).
While we didn’t know it back then, and despite investing over $200,000 in our new recovery services when we upgraded facilities, the net utilisation of recovery decreased.
Despite all the fancy gadgets and despite the appeal of a custom icebath/spa set up, our recovery zone lost it’s ‘edge.’
With that lesson learned, we took a different approach to our Melbourne facility and we went back to the proven formula:
1. We placed the recovery room at the ‘heart’ of our facility. We ensured it was the main artery that shot off to our physio rooms, staff offices, the gym floor, and bathrooms. We made sure it was the main thoroughfare so it could take advantage of the incidental connections and touchpoints that made our first recovery zone great.
2. We ditched the expensive plunge pools (that have since cost us tens of thousands of dollars on repairs, maintenance and upkeep) and returned to what are tried and true – boots, guns, sauna and portable ice baths that use… ice (not expensive pumps that breakdown all the time).
3. And, we ensured everything we chose was low maintenance, reliable and easy to use.
The take-home lesson?
The size and cost of your recovery room do not correlate with your return on your investment.
In fact, the opposite is true: the more expensive it is, the greater chance it will be a pain in the arse and a cash-eating monster.
This is why I’d tell anyone who wants to:
– Create a revenue stream for your gym using recovery services
– Add a tonne of value to your athletes and members, and;
– Create a strong community bond…
Consider seriously dropping the ego and making a smart investment in things that will actually move the needle.
Boots, portable ice baths, guns and rollers. A sauna if you want to (it’s certainly optional).
And these days, not only will it cost half as much as it cost us the first time around, but our recovery partners in the Recovery Project use ZipPay, meaning you can get all the gear, make that price change immediately, and be cash flow positive on day one.
When I did the numbers, you can get a similar set-up to what we have in Melbourne for around $90 bucks a week (yes, less than the price of one full-paying gym member per week).
And, because I told Pete (the founder) that I’d only send this email if he went over and above, he’s even promised you a personalised 30-minute Recovery consultation to help you build out all your digital recovery assets, too.
He’s got a PhD on recovery, and my golly, is he a wizard.
You can find out more here:
– Karl Goodman