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Daniel Island Fitness Center Photo 2

Daniel Island’s Holistic Approach to Fitness

Daniel Island Fitness Center Photo 1

It’s pretty apparent when a golf or county club treats the fitness center as an amenity on near to equal footing as the course, tennis courts, pool and dining rooms. Those clubs create workout areas that look and feel like a premium health club. The result is a vibrant center of community 12 months out of the year.

That’s what Michael Steele has created at Daniel Island Club in Charleston, South Carolina. Steele, the Director of Fitness and Aquatics at Daniel Island, understands the importance of making connections in the fitness center.

The fitness area at the club is an impressive mix of premium cardio equipment, functional training zones and performance training racks and weights. A large studio hosts indoor classes under an airy vaulted ceiling and ground to ceiling windows that showcase the exquisite low country landscape of Daniel Island. The framework is certainly there, but it’s what Steele does with that area that’s impressive

Daniel Island uses a three-pronged approach to keeping members engaged and active.

  • Trainers/Instructors: Steele understand the importance of having a team that will bring the energy and create the type of environment that will bring members back every day. A talented group of personal trainers help members along their fitness journey.
  • Classes: Steele engaged members to learn where they were going for their classes outside of the club. He then created programming to provide similar experiences.
  • “That was the nature of redesigning our facility,” he explained. “We didn’t have a space to offer barre classes so our members were going elsewhere to take barre. We didn’t have enough space or equipment for indoor cycling, so our members were going elsewhere. I didn’t want them to go elsewhere, I wanted them to stay here.” And now they are.
  • Workshops: Multiple-week programs stimulate interest and educate members about paths to well-being. “We’ve keyed on workshops and class series to engage members of all ages and fitness levels to keep them engaged and active all year long.”

A Holistic Experience

Steele understands the sensory nature of fitness, and creates experiences that touch on all five senses. This ensures a memorable visit and is something not all fitness facility managers consider.

“I want to make sure we’re touching four or five senses when a member walks into our facility,” he said. “When it comes to smell, look, touch, feel, taste, we try to make sure we get four out of five senses experienced in their visit each day.”

That type of gym encounter was clearly put on hold during the pandemic, and it affected country clubs.

“The fitness industry has impacted the country club industry greatly,” said Steele. “Not only are people joining private country clubs for golf, they’re joining for health, and for the social aspect. Our gym here, other than the golf and restaurants, has people coming together on a social level, which was really revealed during the pandemic. People missed being around people.” 

Those missed connections were felt by club members and especially by Steele. Making connections is the pillar on which he builds his fitness center and strategy.

“What’s important for us and my team is how do we continue to create this welcoming environment where connections can grow,” he added. “It’s our job to listen and try to create an environment that allow relationships and connections and to happen organically.”

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