5 Questions for Ralph Rajs
Thursday, November 12, 2015
ClubSport properties are large, upscale, full-service fitness resorts with the latest sports and fitness offerings. Impressive in size, ClubSport facilities range from 85,000 to 180,000 square feet and are designed to be an integral part of our members' lives by providing a place to exercise, play, relax or gather and socialize. Our programs and services appeal to people of all ages, interests and fitness levels who are seeking a healthy lifestyle. I caught up with Ralph Rajs (Sr. VP of Operations and Wellness) who oversees the financial and operational performance at all ClubSport and Renaissance ClubSport properties. He establishes annual budgets, sets property goals, and develops best practices and operating procedures.
Nigro: ClubSport has a sterling reputation for creating such a phenomenal member experience. What one thing above all else creates the ClubSport experience?
Rajs: Above all what makes us different is our people. We are fortunate have a lot of highly motivated and committed associates. They make it fun to come to work every day.
Nigro: One thing I love about ClubSport is your commitment to being on the cutting "edge" of fitness trends. Recently you have added performance training centers in your clubs called, "The EDGE." How have those new spaces been received by your members?
Rajs: The EDGE spaces have become our wow factor. We have found that people of all ages want to train athletically, they just have to start in a place that is safe and rewarding for them. We are very careful to have a progression of training opportunities for all levels of exerciser. When classes are not in session the space is available to the general membership to do their own activities. This has also been a very popular aspect to the space.
Nigro: Ralph, you have worked for ClubSport for 25 years and have helped guide and develop the brand into what it is today. Over those 25 years what is the one thing you're are most proud of accomplishing?
Rajs: Thank you for that. The thing I am most proud of is how our team has grown the business in terms of revenue and income, while staying true to who we are. Additionally, I am proud of how we have adapted to market and industry changes over the last ten years. Things are moving so quickly, but I feel like we are well conditioned to adapt and grow as needed.
Nigro: You're a madman on the asphalt who is an avid runner and will be competing in the New York City Marathon. Where is your favorite place to run? What is your favorite marathon? If you care to share, what is your best marathon time?
Rajs: I'm fortunate I have been a runner and cyclist for the last 30 years. It has been such a great tool to keep me balanced when things get crazy. The hardest marathon I did was the marathon within Ironman Tahoe in 2013. Hypothermic conditions and a bad stomach made for a tough run.
One of my favorite things to do is run and explore in big cities whenever I travel. I love getting up early and finding the cool and pretty spots a city has to offer as the sun rises. I enjoy taking pictures when I am out to capture the memory. I recently had the opportunity to do that in Nashville and I got some good shots. My best marathon time was a 3:28 a few years ago. I qualified for Boston but didn't get in so I still have that race on my bucket list.
Nigro: I can't let you get away without asking you at least one Vicore question. I'm very grateful that you have been a Vicore fan since the beginning. In what ways has Vicore had an effect on your business?
Rajs: First I want to say thank you to Greg Nigro for the passion and ingenuity he has brought to the fitness industry. We need more free thinkers who have the courage to create different products rather than copying others. Vicore products is one ways ClubSport members know we are actively seeking the best products to help them accomplish their fitness goals. Also, we like to continually challenge our trainers to get themselves and their clients out of their comfort zones and experiment with new tools. This keeps life, and workouts, interesting.
Ralph also manages all aspects of wellness for Leisure Sports, from developing and training Wellness Directors and implementing new wellness programs to purchasing fitness equipment for all clubs, ensuring Leisure Sports is an industry leader in equipment and technology. Additionally, Ralph is often called on to consult with Leisure Sports clients as a fitness center design expert.
Ralph joined Leisure Sports in 2005 after 15 years in the ClubSport management ranks. He first joined the company in 1990 as the Operations Director at ClubSport San Ramon, helped open ClubSport Fremont in 1991, and was promoted to General Manager at ClubSport Pleasanton in 1993, a position he held for 12 years.
An avid runner and triathlete, Ralph has completed three IronMan competitions and is currently training for his fourth race in November. Among his industry honors, Ralph was named IHRSA GM of the Year in 2001 and was honored by Club Solutions magazine as the “Most Fit Health Club Professional in America” in January 2008.
Ralph has a BS in Nutrition from California State University, Los Angeles and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. He and his wife Elizabeth live in Pleasanton and are the parents of two grown children. He is a former president of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, past board member of Pleasanton Partnerships in Education, and a frequent volunteer for local schools and sports organizations.
If you want to learn more about ClubSports or connect with Ralph you can do that here: