Club Spa and Fitness Association – Setting the standard for wellness

January 7, 2022
Club Spa and Fitness Association

Club Spa and Fitness Association

Setting the standard for wellness

Business View Magazine interviews Katherine Lord, Director of the Club Spa and Fitness Association, for our focus on the U.S. Fitness & Wellness Sector

Founded in Florida in 2007, The Club Spa and Fitness Association (CSFA) brings together professionals, students, and management associated with providing wellness services at spa and fitness facilities in private clubs. Now based in Alexandria, Virginia, the association’s mission is to set best practices for the profession while maintaining superior business and ethical standards for fitness, spa and wellness professionals.

Club Spa and Fitness Association

Managing Director Katherine Lord

“Because it’s such a fast-moving industry, it’s really helpful for a wellness director at one club to have a community where he or she can speak to an instructor in another club, perhaps in another part of the country, and ask what’s going on where they are. And how can we move things forward?” says CSFA Managing Director Katherine Lord about the benefits of the association.

The goal of CSFA is to support wellness professionals in the club space through four main pillars – offering community building, education, professional development opportunities and research. The association looks at global wellness trends and provides education and resources for how that can be applied to operating within private clubs.

“We kind of live in two worlds,” explains Lord. “We have what’s happening globally with wellness, the trends – wellness being a spectrum from the food you eat, to the movement you do, to your spiritual practice. All of those various pieces that bring full body health and wellbeing. So, looking at those pieces globally, but then looking specifically at the club sector and how club members are accessing wellness services and amenities, and what they’re wanting their clubs to provide for them in that space.”

The CSFA’s membership represents clubs across the United States and Canada. Membership costs $325 per year and benefits include being connected to peers across the country, a monthly newsletter, invitations to monthly regional roundtable discussions and networking events, access to the member directory, educational and professional development resources, as well as access to research. The association works with colleges, universities, and other certification entities to develop curricula for accreditation, assists with career development and job placement opportunities, offers resources for trends, products and programming, and encourages professional standards. “We want to serve as a connector for the people working in this profession, and a place for them to come to learn and to grow,” says Lord.

In 2017, the CSFA became a subsidiary of the long-established Club Management Association of America. The CMAA is the association’s parent organization, providing management aid while allowing the CSFA to operate independently. Lord notes, “The CSFA has its own board of directors, we have our own operating budget, our own curriculum, however we have the support, industry knowledge, and resources from all that’s going on at CMAA to help us do what we do. The CMAA team really supports the CSFA mission.” The two associations run their own annual conferences but have representation in both events. CSFA held their annual event in August in Jupiter, FL, and the CMAA will host its event this coming February in San Diego, CA.

According to Lord, “CSFA has a presence at the CMAA World Conference and Club Business Expo. Several of our board members and our association members attend. This year, in February, CSFA will have a Wellness Pavilion at the Expo where  we’re going to be showcasing wellness services and amenities that clubs can integrate at scalable levels to offer wellness to their members. We are highlighting how impactful wellness offerings can be,  and that goes beyond just having some treadmills or a massage studio.”

In addition to the conferences, the CSFA communicates with its members through a quarterly recap newsletter, as well as a monthly email called: ‘What’s Happening This Month’. The email goes out to all members and corporate partners with news, announcements, and membership reminders. “We have a member news section for people to submit not only professional announcements that they have about themselves and their clubs, but also personal announcements because a lot of our members know each other very well,” says Lord. “We have announcements about somebody that just had a baby or folks who are getting married or have a new position at a new club. The news section is really taking off and people are very excited about it.”

Club Spa and Fitness Association

Members can also stay connected online through the association’s various social media accounts, as well as CSFA Connect – an online discussion board where members can pose questions to one another. The highlights from each month are included in the monthly newsletter as well. That connection to other members is one of the highlights of being part of the association. Its members have a strong connection, and with that comes even greater benefits. “There is a really strong sense of community in the industry – that ‘rising tides raise all ships’ – so people are really willing to share information and best practices,” Lord explains.

That connection provided a beneficial resource to members when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The camaraderie, as well as the educational benefits afforded to members, allowed them to share ideas and resources to help keep their own members satisfied and well throughout lockdowns. Many of the clubs had to really think outside the box to help provide service to their members despite various restrictions, including lockdowns, masking, and just general anxiety around enclosed spaces.

“The way the clubs responded to such a crisis with a lens of opportunity was awe-inspiring,” Lord recalls. “Some of them were able to – forgive the pun – flex their creativity and ingenuity. They did everything from Facebook Live workout classes to estheticians calling and walking their club members through a home massage or home facial. And then of course people who had the opportunity to use outdoor space used it very well.”

Finding new ways to engage members during the height of the pandemic was a top priority for CSFA member clubs, as many of those clubs’ members are seniors. Lord attests, “That population was understandably very hesitant to come back. They are very concerned about their health, even with masks and vaccines. So these wellness directors and their teams had to respond and say ‘Okay, how do we give Mrs. X, who is nervous to come into the club, wellness services at the same level as if she was coming into the club?’ So they’ve had to really create new programming and learn all sorts of new skills.”

Despite the fact that CSFA member clubs typically appeal to an older generation, the association is doing its part to help its members draw in a younger crowd. “You just have to offer what they’re interested in,” Lord explains. “One of the top things for that is technology. From the equipment, to how they are signing up for services, signing up for personal training, signing up for spa services, whatever it is, you have to have a technology component.”Another major draw to bringing in more youth is expanding the wellness services available. “Having the room with the treadmills and the elliptical machines is just not enough,” Lord adds. “There’s are so many wellness services that people can access now, whether it’s physical therapy, Thai massage, dieticians, nutrition services. Some clubs are even offering life coaching. All these additional services tap into the ecosystem of wellness and are not just siloed into that very physical focus.”

Looking to the future, Lord hopes to continue to grow the CSFA community and make it the go-to place for wellness professionals. She shares, “My hope over the next three years as wellness continues to thrive, is that our educational opportunities and professional development opportunities grow. But also that we see the attention to wellness professionals grow. This group of people is highly knowledgeable, highly skilled, and critical to the success of certainly our club communities, but also the community at large. If we have a healthy, well community, that helps everybody.”

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Club Spa & Fitness Association (CSFA)

What: Professional association for fitness, spa and wellness professionals in the private club sector

Where: Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia



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