Charged with running a well-rounded fitness center centrally located in Phoenix, Arizona, an area that is not lacking in outdoor recreation, Jackie Switzer, the Director of FLC Fitness, knew it would be important to offer pickleball-only membership for local pickleball players only interested in the pickleball aspect of the fitness center. The FLC has a clear vision that “everyone should have a chance to get to know the game [of pickleball] and a place that is safe and fun to play.” That is exactly what they are doing by offering members the opportunity to sign up as pickleball-only members, paying a fraction of the cost of a full membership, and use only the services of interest to them.
The FLC has offered pickleball at their facility since 2017 and immediately began offering pickleball-only memberships for a significant discount on a full membership. Switzer said they “instituted [pickleball-only memberships] to make it easier and more affordable for members that only want to play pickleball with [them].” At the FLC, an annual pickleball-only membership comes at a 82% discount from the annual full membership, making it extremely beneficial for players looking to get involved in the local pickleball community without the financial commitment of a full gym membership.
Nevertheless, Switzer emphasized that many pickleball-only members eventually transition to a full membership. She says they often “get [there] and find all the options [they] have and usually change over.” The pickleball-only memberships are a great way to get people in the door who are initially only interested in pickleball and allow them to witness the other modalities a fitness center offers.
As far as marketing goes, the FLC’s pickleball-only memberships largely speak for themselves and thus a large marketing effort is not needed. Switzer noted that word of mouth, being in several online directories, and a few magazines has served their business well.
Not only are pickleball-only memberships beneficial for the players, but they bring in additional members for the club who otherwise may have never stepped through the door. “The main benefit is [the fitness center gets] more members because [customers] are only paying for what they want to do and not a full membership that they perceive they will not use,” says Switzer. Often, those with this specialty membership end up changing to a full membership when they see the other benefits the fitness club offers.
Many of the features one will frequently find at a fitness club, such as yoga classes and a cafe, complement the game of pickleball well. Switzer highlighted the fact that she has many students in her yoga classes who use yoga to warm up before they play pickleball. The same goes for those who elect to use a fitness club’s indoor track to prepare their bodies physically for a game of pickleball. Switzer mentioned that many pickleball players, regardless of whether or not they have a pickleball-only or full membership, enjoy eating at the FLC’s cafe after playing pickleball and will even stay a while to play cards.
In all, pickleball-only memberships have served the FLC and their community extremely well as it brings in more members to the fitness center and gives pickleball players an opportunity to participate in pickleball play at a reasonable cost. This low barrier of entry creates more traffic through the fitness center and more opportunities for pickleball-only members to change to a full membership.