Fitness goes upscale: Life Time Athletic to open in Bloomfield Township [Detroit Free Press :: ]
(Detroit Free Press (MI) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 20--Life Time will open its first Life Time Athletic -- an upscale version of its Life Time Fitness gym, complete with a spa and a cafe -- in Michigan on Saturday.
The 73,500-square-foot facility at 4106 Telegraph in Bloomfield Township will feature cardiovascular and resistance machines, classes, an indoor lap pool, certified personal trainers and nutrition coaches, like Life Time Fitness.
But the equipment is higher-end, the dressing rooms filled with complimentary J.R. Watkins all-natural bath and body products and kids entertained with a special program.
According to the Chanhassen, Minn.-based chain, the new gym will bring 220 jobs to the area, 80% of which are full-time.
A single membership costs $144 per month as part of the grand-opening offer, but likely will jump $10-$20, according to Beth Bock, general manager of the Bloomfield Township facility. A single membership at a Life Time Fitness gym is about $77 a month.
Life Time Athletic members can also use Life Time Fitness gyms.
The first Life Time Athletic opened in September 2000 in Minneapolis; there are now about 30 across the U.S.
Bock explained why exercisers are willing to pay more for a fancier gym: "More personalized service and lower membership base. It gives you that exclusivity, like a Ritz-Carlton or a luxurious resort."
-- Photo gallery: Life Time Athletic in Bloomfield Township -- Mobile users tap here
Life Time's creation of a new type of gym to attract a different piece of the market is called segmentation. It's something all sorts of companies do.
"When you look at health clubs with all these added benefits and features, there are people willing to pay a bit more, but they get a lot in return. Not only will they exercise," said Wayne State University marketing professor Abhijit Biswas, a pricing expert. "On other hand, there are people who like their bare-bones amenities. As long as as they can exercise and be healthy, they're (happy)."
Unlike other companies that go the segmenting route and create a name -- Toyota's higher-end cars are under the Lexus brand -- Life Time chose to append the word Athletic.
Biswas said not making any moniker distinction could be a mistake: "When you start low and want to go high, you might want to re-badge, because it could be a negative connection ... I would stay away from using the same name. It could confuse people. If it's Brand X, why should I pay $100 for Brand X, when I can pay $50?"
But Bock pointed out that the opposite is true, too. Exercisers are familiar with the company Life Time already.
"We still want to make the brand recognition of Life Time in the name," she explained.
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