Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lucille Roberts

Lucille Roberts was born in the Soviet Union on Dec. 7, 1943, in what is now an independent country, Tajikistan. Her family was Jewish, and after facing religious persecution the Roberts Family immigrated to the United States and settled Brooklyn. When Lucille Roberts was 13, She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1964 and worked in a succession of jobs in retailing.

Lucille Roberts last job was at Kitty Kelly, which sold shoes and other merchandise. Lucille Roberts was promised a $50 raise if she met her sales goals. She reached her goal, but never receive her raise. She quit to start her own business with her husband.

A self-described exercise nut, Lucille Roberts wanted to teach an exercise class for women at a hotel. Instead, she decided that what women really needed was a place where they could exercise with no men around. Lucille Roberts and her husband put up $10,000 of their savings, borrowed $5,000 each from their parents to open a little ''spa'' opposite Macy's in Manhattan.

The club was an immediate success, but its name, the Body Shop, caused confusion: People thought it was an auto-repair business. Within two years, two additional clubs opened, and the name was changed to Lucille Roberts.

The goal was to be friendly to women. No heavy weights or elaborate machines were emphasized; classes were easy to follow and taught by people with less-than-perfect bodies. The classes lasted only 30 minutes so they could easily fit into women's schedules.

Lucille Roberts target market was secretaries, teachers and the wives of policemen, she knew how to please them. Her business strategy involved recruiting as many members as possible and crowding them into large gyms. By continually adding more gyms, she was able to keep down the cost of advertising, a significant and critical expenditure for health clubs on a per-member basis. The result was summed up by a promotional slogan Lucille Roberts used for years: ''More Gym Less Money.''

Lucille Roberts, a businesswoman whose ambition to create inspired a chain of gyms for women, died on July 17th 2003 at New York University Downtown Hospital in Manhattan due to lung cancer at the age of 59.

No comments:

Post a Comment