I was very pleased to see Constance and Pedro Ruiz the President and CEO of Vivafit gyms in Portugal receive the 2008 IHRSA European Club Leadership Award at this year’s Lisbon conference.
Constance and Pedro have worked really hard to develop Vivafit, the 30-minute circuit-based women’s only brand into Portugal’s largest club chain (measured in clubs). As I write, they have 85 clubs throughout Portugal and have just entered Spain. They have a clear corporate purpose which is driven by the desire to help women make exercise a habit. The business is directed by five core values:
One of the messages that stood out when I spoke to Constance was her insight that when you first set up a new club in a new community, the first year is all about creating awareness. The focus is on creating all sorts of ‘marketing noise’; the approach is to do a bit of everything and hope that some of it sticks. In the second year, Constance said you have to become a part of the community. The club has to demonstrate that it will give as well as take from the community. Vivafit gives to the community by adopting local charities and encouraging all their club owners to donate to the company’s nominated charities (€20,000 Euro has been donated this year to an osteoporosis charity, a condition that affects many women as they age). Presently, they are working on an inititaive to collect pajamas for a children cancer charity. Why pajamas? This is what the charity said they desperately needed.
Vivafit is a great story and I wish them well as they take their brand into Spain.