Posted by: Sales Makers | July 15, 2017

Addendum to X-Selling at Membership Sales Page 3

It gained popularity in the 1970s reaching 3.1 million players by 1974.

I gained exposure to the game in Florida, where the game of handball was played outdoors (not to be confused with the European / Olympic sport).

Local parks would erect a 3 sided-brick wall (measuring 20 feet x 40 feet) with no ceiling or back wall) where locals could play this game with a small, hard black rubber ball with their ‘hands’ (thus, hand ball).

Often the players would use a glove (to protect their hands a bit).

One day, supposedly someone took a tennis racquet, sawed off a bit of the handle and started playing with a softer ball (blue with no fur [like a tennis ball] – I think the manufacturer was Penn.)

Specific rackets were developed later that had a somewhat different shape than a normal tennis racquet.

Racquetball was played by a lot of the Baby Boomers in college, graduating and countless Racquetball Clubs were created to accommodate this booming sport.

By the end of the 70’s / early 80’s however; the sport was losing momentum (yet still maintains approximately 5 million players in North America) and Racquetball Clubs started being converted into multi-purpose Clubs.

You see, all of the yuppies were graduating from University where they had been jocks and very active.

They didn’t actually want to work yet (Americans don’t get a “gap” year).

At the same time Arthur Jones was selling a line of equipment for $27,000 and you could rent some space in a strip mall, get a couple of bikes and set up a business.

OR you could rent a court or two at a Racquetball Club (they already had locker rooms), cheap and set up there.

Young women were taking courses with Jackie Sorenson and becoming qualified “Jazzercise” instructors.

They then went to the same Racquetball Club and rented a court, by the hour.

It didn’t take long for the Club Owners to see the kids renting courts were making more than they were earning.

They either kicked them out and then bought a line of Nautilus equipment, hired an instructor (called it Aerobics) and started their own clubs.

Some however, merged and created what for all intents and purposes were what IHRSA used to define as: a multi-purpose Club.

In the beginning; you could buy what was called a Social membership – which meant you were a member, but you had to pay-to-play racquetball and couldn’t use the gym, but you could pay to take an aerobics class.

OR You could buy a Fitness membership that gave you access to the gym, but you had to pay to play racquetball or take a class.

OR If the club had a pool, then there would be a Swimming membership.

OR If the club had tennis, then there would be a Racquets membership that gave you access to the tennis courts; but not racquetball.

OR if they had racquetball, unless you bought a dual membership then you would get both, but not the gym or the pool).

AND finally: The ultimate would be an Unlimited membership that gave you access to everything included.

This was nicknamed a Chinese menu type of membership plan, since there were so many options on the menu.

NOTE: When I first started working in Scandinavia I worked with Clubs that had over 30 different types of membership (and this was in the 90’s – not the 70’s.)


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