LONG BEACH — Three years in, one Peninsula business is beginning to find its stride. Snap Fitness, a 24/7 health club in Long Beach owned by Robert and Katie Cunningham, began to bring exercise options to a place that had few alternatives.
“If you are addressing 20 percent of your population, you are absolutely killing it,” Robert Cunningham said.
“If you’re addressing 10 percent you’re about national average — It’s going great!” Cunningham has seen a growing interest in exercise, particularly those seeking first-time gym memberships.
The Cunninghams formerly lived in Denver, a high-elevation city that’s well established as a destination for training and fitness, particularly long-distance running. Leaving one of the fittest cities in the US for a peninsula that prides itself in rest and relaxation has been a challenge and a unique opportunity.
“We wanted to create a consistent opportunity for people to have a lifelong choice of exercise,” Cunningham said.
“Particular to our Peninsula, there just haven’t been a lot of gyms here, so many people haven’t had that lifelong experience with exercise. We’ve had numerous people sign up who are in their late 40s to early 60s who never had a gym membership. I think that’s fascinating, their whole life on the Peninsula and never had a gym opportunity.” Being attentive to the needs of their members, many exercising for the first time at an older age, has been a focus from the start.
“I think our greatest success is that we’re present and available,” Cunningham said. “We make ourselves accountable to other people. We want people to be successful. When you sign up for a membership, we give you an opportunity to learn how to use things. After day one, you’ll feel successful enough to walk in the door and know what to do.” When it comes to turnover, the rate has been relatively low with “30 to 40 percent maintain their membership for a year,” according to Cunningham.
Cunningham sees the biggest swell in membership during the summer months from May through September, a number largely boosted by tourism and returning seasonal travelers.
“We have a lot of ‘rain birds’ here, people leave for the winter then come back,” Cunningham said adding that he sees another small spike around the New Year. Overall, the business experiences a 10 to 15 percent decline in membership during the winter season.
“Seasonal jobs tend to leave and so financially it’s hard for people out here to hold onto their gym membership,” Cunningham said. “From November through February, we lose a lot of business.”
The first few years have largely been a balancing act between available space and market demands.
“In the first two years we added a lot of equipment while getting a better idea of what our market was,” Cunningham said. “We brought in the things that our clients demanded and filled in the gaps.” In the coming months, the gym is planning to gradually replace some equipment with new while retaining the same open space and free flowing setup.
“We truly believe in allowing space to move,” Cunningham said. “We don’t want it jam packed in here with a bunch of equipment. We believe in allowing people to exercise as they’re supposed to and you need free space for that.” For more information, visit facebook.com/longbeachpeninsulasnap/