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President of National Fitness Center, Lee Sloan, Shares Why RealRyder Indoor Cycles Are a Smart Busi

A few years ago, Lee Sloan, President of Tennessee-based National Fitness Center (NFC), was laying the groundwork for a ninth NFC location. The goal for this new club was to offer a superior fitness and wellness destination that pampers members with greater personalized attention, innovative programming, and professional fitness testing. Part of their innovative programming investment included the RealRyder Indoor Cycles, providing them a differentiator against large, full-service health clubs in the region. We recently chatted with Lee to determine how things are going at NFC West Signature in Knoxville, TN.

RR: “There are so many bikes on the market and the category continues to grow. What made you select the RealRyder Cycles for your state-of-the-art 120,000 sq ft premiere location?”

LS: “We wanted to be different. We were looking for something to take our program to the next level. Every bike manufacturer was selling a traditional stationary bike. Every bike maker was marketing a flywheel in the back versus the front, or a move from a chain to a belt. No one was offering anything truly unique. Then I saw the RealRyder and initially, I was nervous about the potential for more issues given the moving parts. How was it going to hold up? After seeing it on the market for three years in a row, we decided to go for it.”

RR: “On that note, you invested in 43 RealRyder Bikes. How are they holding up?”

LS: “We’ve had the bikes for 2 and half years now, and surprisingly, but then again, not surprisingly, the equipment has held up really well. The customer service has also been great.”

RR:: “How has your RealRyder Program affected retention and acquisition rates?”

LS: “We are a big facility so for one individual program to move the mark at such a point that it stands out, it’s tough to say. But what I can definitely say is the RealRyder Bikes have brought in new riders from competitive gyms in our area. They want the innovative approach to cycling. We have also found that with our other locations that have traditional spin bikes, we’ve had a hard time breaking into outdoor road riders. We’ve now had several training groups come in and try the RealRyder Bikes and then join the club because of their experience. They enjoy the more realistic feel.”

RR: “In today’s competitive fitness market, some large full-service clubs are reluctant to introduce something different for fear of losing members. Can you speak to that fear?”

LS: “I can give you rules I live by. I learned early on about the 10-80-10 rule: 10% of the people will be upset, no matter what. You’ll never please them. For another 10%, you can leave everything alone and they'll be happy. It’s that 80% that matters most, and I know 80% of our members love the RealRyder Bikes.”

RR: “You’ve worked for NFC for 14 years now, and you’ve served as President for 10 of those years. What has fueled your success and ability to grow?”

LS: “I came to NFC having worked as a manager for another club. I started at the ground floor again, which I wanted to do, working in personal training, sales and then serving as President. In this role, at first, I spent a lot of time in the office and all I saw was numbers. That’s important, but to get a true understanding of the business and functioning of the clubs, I chose to work at the front desk. That’s the heartbeat of the club. So, I spend about 2 hours at least 3 days each week at one of our clubs’ front desk during peak hours. No matter what’s going on in the club, if there are any issues, eventually it will reach the front desk!”

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