Friday 18 October 2019

What the judges are looking for in an award-winning health and fitness club

Rachael Taylor Fawsitt

We’ve had the Grammys, we’ve had the Oscars, and now it’s time for the main event - the Nutramino Health & Fitness Awards.

This is the second year of the awards, which take place in the Round Room at Dublin’s Mansion House on Friday, March 8. The biggest names in Irish health and fitness will attend the gala lunch to find out who has been crowned this year’s winners.

Becoming an award-winning health and fitness club doesn’t just happen. There are high standards to meet and it’s a highly competitive industry so the finalists at the Nutramino Health & Fitness Awards need to be the best in the business. Clubs around the country must meet all the judge’s expectations and work all year round to uphold these industry standards.

We spoke to some of the judges to find out what it takes to succeed in these prestigious awards.

Lifestyle over memberships

Although no one will dispute that memberships are vital for keeping clubs operating, clubs should be offering a health and fitness ‘lifestyle’ as opposed to just a membership. Members need and deserve value for their money. In simple terms, that means providing your members with proper support from qualified staff as well as providing fully functional equipment and facilities. It’s all about making your gym or club somewhere that people want to be.

Facilities and staff

The facilities available to club members are of huge importance to the judges. From hygiene standards to the equipment available, an award-winning club must tick all the boxes. The right equipment is vital because it provides trainers and instructors with the means to deliver the healthier lifestyle that is promised to members. To really make a positive impact, staff also need to be fully qualified, friendly and have a passion for what they do.


For some, the idea of joining a new gym can seem intimidating. Cultivating a warm and friendly atmosphere where all members (new, old and potential) feel welcome is extremely important. The judges want club members to enjoy their time in the gym so that they can do their workouts and not be daunted by the atmosphere.

Clubs can achieve this through events, competitions and even nights out. Again, staff play a huge role in cultivating the perfect workout environment.

Paul Byrne is the Director of BodyByrne Gym, President of NABBA (National Amateur Body Building Association) and he has been a trainer for the past 30 years in Dublin and the US. As well as a lengthy career in the health and fitness industry, he has trained some of Ireland’s most familiar faces along the way. Stars such as Saoirse Ronan, Michael Fassbender and The Script have all come to Paul for their health and fitness needs over the years.

“The main thing you want to see in a health club is that it’s run by people who are passionate about it,” says Paul, when asked what he looks for as a judge. “Their first priority has to be the people going to use it.

“Everybody has their own story, and when they go into a club they don’t want to feel intimidated. They want to feel welcome - that’s one of the biggest things I would be looking for.”


Programs and classes

The types of classes and exercise programs offered to members is high on the list of priorities for the judges. They want to see high quality, well thought-out fitness plans being offered as well as an ability to adapt and tailor everything to the individual.

Gyms need to cater for everyone and shouldn’t single out any specific types of training, for example body building, power lifting, female only, male only – the judges want to see an inclusive environment where everyone is welcome and accommodated.

Classes need to be structured properly and programmes need to be thoroughly designed and explained.

Conn McCluskey, CEO of Ireland Active and 2019 judge for the Nutramino Health & Fitness Awards, says that one of the main things they are looking for in a club is initiatives to get inactive people active. Classes and programs that are designed to get people into fitness or back into it are of huge importance.

“Raising standards in the industry and getting people more active - those would be our two main focuses,” explains Conn.

Quality standards – awards and systems

The health and fitness industry is managed and audited by several governing bodies in Ireland, meaning that levels of excellence are closely watched across the board. The judges expect clubs to have been through a quality award process and to show that they are maintaining the standards required.

Ireland Active is the national association for leisure, health and fitness with approximately 300 members across the country. They prize leisure centres, gyms, swimming pools and sporting facilities on their safety, hygiene, customer service and human resource standards. As judges for the Nutramino Health & Fitness Awards, they are looking for the highest quality standards be met by all clubs.

The 2019 winners of the Nutramino Health & Fitness Awards will be announced on Friday, March 8. Ireland’s top fitness and health professionals and organisations will gather for the event, including the educators and motivators, fitness facilities and gyms, industry personality and business leaders.

The awards will be hosted by Mr. Alan Quinlan and tickets are now available for the gala luncheon at the Round Room in the Mansion House.

Sponsored by: Nutramino

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