New York Sports Clubs to Acquire Kettlebell Concepts

New York Sports Clubs (NYSC), New York, is acquiring KettleBell Concepts (KBC), New York, for an undisclosed sum, the company announced on Nov. 16. 

The purchase includes all intellectual property of KBC, as well as other assets. KBC’s founder and president, David Ganulin, will continue as an advisor throughout the transition. NYSC, which first implemented KBC programs in 2008, plans to grow the brand across its gym network.

NYSC, which was formerly known as Town Sports International before its emergence in December 2020 from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, today operates 65 gyms in the United States and three in Switzerland under brands New York Sports Clubs, Boston Sports Clubs, Philadelphia Sports Clubs, Washington Sports Clubs, Lucille Roberts and Around the Clock Fitness.

All qualified NYSC staff can get free certification in KBC’s core programs, and KBC programs will remain open and available to qualified members of the public at the current price, according to the company. KBC has trained over 5,000 instructors globally, the company said.

“We believe that the fitness industry needs more professional development as a whole, not less,” NYSC CEO Roger Harvey told Club Industry. “We don’t intend to price-gouge members of the fitness community that are seeking to better themselves.” 

The purchase of KBC will create an additional revenue stream for NYSC, but the financial aspect was also one of cost savings. To Harvey, kettlebells are one of the most valuable tools in a gym if used properly. And for them to be used properly and added to more of NYSC’s group exercise and small group training programs, more NYSC trainers and instructors must be properly trained on the KBC programs.

“If we were paying for these certifications a la carte, over the course of time, the cost of that would start to become much higher [than buying the company],” Harvey said. “While we own the content, we're investing in ourselves. We're creating value within our own organization. So that was a financial decision.”

The purchase also helps with Harvey’s goal to make NYSC one of the most sought-after fitness industry employers because it shows the company invests in staff, which helps with staff recruitment and retention. It will attract to the NYSC brands “the best of the best” who are not already team members because they will see opportunities for professional advancement, Harvey said. It also provides a career path for employees in other parts of the company, such as the corporate administrative team, the welcome team or the cleaning team.

Harvey, who became CEO of the company as NYSC was emerging from Chapter 11 in December 2020, knows KBC well. Harvey was introduced to Kettlebell Concepts in February 2010, when he completed the KBC Level 1 workshop inside a New York Sports Club. He was impressed by the course curriculum and follow-up programming, so he sought out Ganulin, becoming a consultant to Kettlebell Concepts from March 2010 to November 2013, he said.

Vince Metzo, who as KBC’s director of education from 2004 to 2011 helped create many of the KBC programs, was the instructor for the workshop that Harvey participated in. Metzo was one of the first hires Harvey made when he became CEO at NYSC. Metzo is now director of fitness education for NYSC where he is developing more KBC programs.

Despite the investment in the KBC purchase and the new KBC programming being developed, NYSC won’t switch over to kettlebell-only programming, Harvey said, but kettlebells will be incorporated into more of the company’s offerings.

Ganulin said about the purchase: “A fancy marketing campaign may get new members in the door, but investing in the education of the team so that they’re providing new and existing members with the best possible programming for a successful fitness journey is the most essential component of the company’s long-term success. I'm excited to see where they take the brand in the next few years."