Club + Resort Business’ Second Annual Awards recognize The Club at Keowee Key in Salem, S.C. for hosting a triathlon that boosted member participation and provided an outlet for in-person fitness in a pandemic-friendly format, and the Detroit (Mich.) Athletic Club for transforming part of its multi-story garage into an open-air group-exercise studio and fitness center.
The December 2020 issue of Club + Resort Business features the 2020 Innovation Awards, recognizing club and resort properties that have conceived and implemented concepts that have paid real dividends in the form of enduring member and guest satisfaction and loyalty.
These properties were recognized for innovative achievement in the Golf Operations category:
A club’s picturesque surroundings can do more than just serve as an Instagrammable backdrop; they can also be incorporated into a special event that promotes a healthy lifestyle, both indoors and out. And this year, making full use of everything a club property has to offer became especially important in promoting a safe environment and encouraging existing members to continue to use their memberships, and prospective members to join.
At The Club at Keowee Key in Salem, S.C., a triathlon held in October boosted member participation and provided an outlet for in-person fitness in a pandemic-friendly format.
“We like to hold a big event each quarter,” says Fitness and Racquet Center Director Bryan Coker. “Our goal for these events is to encourage people to get involved and live an active lifestyle while experiencing [the benefits of the] community.”
Building upon a smaller triathlon held in 2019, the club decided to host two triathlons in 2020. The first race, held on a Friday evening, included a 200-meter swim in the pool, a five-mile ride on stationary spin bikes positioned on the pool patio, and a one-mile run around the fitness and racquet facility.
On the following morning, a second race incorporated a longer format in a different setting: a 500-meter swim in a lake, a 15-mile ride on bikes positioned at the water’s edge, and a 3.1-mile run on the lakeshore walking trail.
To ensure a solid turnout, the club promoted the event via a variety of channels, including the monthly community newspaper and weekly “Friday Flier,” community e-blasts, and brochures. In-person marketing included announcement slides broadcast on club televisions and a large banner just inside the clubhouse entrance. The club also relied on word of mouth to generate some additional buzz. In total, 14 participants completed the mini-triathlon, and five took part in the Saturday event.
Given South Carolina’s usually temperate climate, the club did not anticipate having any weather-related hurdles derail its efforts. But the day before the first race, Tropical Storm Zeta wreaked havoc on the property, scattering tree limbs across the grounds. By the time the competition was to begin, though, “All departments across Keowee Key had rallied to have both the campus and the trail cleaned as if [the storm] had never happened,” says Coker.
On the morning of the race, the outdoor temperature registered an unusually chilly 42 degrees. But with the water temperature at a balmy 74 degrees, the team decided to proceed as planned. “As it turned out, the weather was perfect,” notes Coker. “All of the participants said the water was fine, and it was nice that the temperature was on the cooler side for the bikes and run.”
To ensure that the triathlon adhered to a socially distanced set-up, the club re-adjusted the bike leg of the race, moving from its original indoor track to an outdoor setting. Spectators could easily view swimmers through the pool’s all-glass enclosure that opens to the outside. With the remainder of the event being held outdoors, the club was able to proceed without incident.
With medals awarded to males and females in each age group and trophies given to first-place male and female winners (second-place winners were included in Saturday’s event), both races saw a strong overall turnout. Members who participated in both races, dubbed a Pro Challenge, earned special recognition, plus a Keowee Key-branded cooler and water bottle.
“Everyone who participated in the event had so many positive things to say,” says Coker. “People who have watched the video say they can’t wait to join us next year.”
As the club gears up for its next fitness event in January 2021 and firms up plans to now offer the triathlon on an annual basis, Coker stresses the ongoing importance of promoting health and fitness for existing and prospective members. “People need to be active on their level and feel they are part of something,” he notes. “We want to continue to offer safe ways that allow all of our members to do both.
“The more this happens, the more the energy and attitudes of our members improve,” Coker says. “This becomes contagious to anyone who gets involved. Then before you know it, a culture is created that is recognized by anyone who comes to visit, whether they are a guest or a prospective buyer.”
In today’s world of home-exercise equipment and big-box gyms, it’s easy to forget when “working out” more often literally meant doing routines outdoors. But the COVID-19 pandemic, and its restrictions on indoor gatherings, inspired the Athletics Department of the Detroit (Mich.) Athletic Club (DAC) to recall that time, as it found a fitting Motor City solution for how it could still provide a way to help members get in their workouts.
The thinking, reports Assistant General Manager Tai Tran, took this route: “We have a place to park cars. Only we don’t have a lot of cars in there right now. So why not move a hefty piece of our fitness footprint—weights, cardio machines, mats and lots of cleaning supplies and social distancing—into the DAC Garage?”
The DAC took 6,000 sq. ft. of the ground floor of its multi-story garage and transformed it into an open-air group-exercise studio and fitness center. “This gave our members a venue to ward off any pandemic poundage and work out the stresses of this uncertain world, while allowing our club to serve them and live up to our middle name—’Athletic,’ ” says Tran.