Adjusting your mindset about new options in the fitness industry can open opportunities to make your business more relevant and competitive.

Tim Rhode – CEO Summit Director | Jan 19, 2019

When considering panelists, presenters and sponsors for the 2018 CEO Summit, I saw how some of the approaches from these companies could be viewed as antagonistic or competitive with the interests of conventional health club operators.

Many had new ways to bring exercise or personal training to the market that at first glance appeared to potentially erode profits or bring fitness to people outside of the health club rather than bringing people to the club.

Related: Increasing Relevance in a Competitive Market (Josh, Can you link this to the previous blog post on Relevance?)

While introducing some of our panelists at the 2018 CEO Summit, I encouraged everyone in the room to “flip the telescope,” a metaphor for changing your perspective or long-term beliefs to look at something from another point of view. For example, seeing digital streaming or online personal training as opportunities rather than threats.

The topic was technology. One panelist had developed a platform that offers live streaming of exercise classes, enabling members to view classes live or on-demand wherever they are from their phones, tablets or computers.

On the face of it, this would appear to run contrary to the long-held belief that club owners want and need people coming in to our clubs. Traditionally, many of us have seen anything that offers people an alternative to coming into our clubs as competition.

But flip the telescope and you’ll see a different story. In last month’s CEO Summit Insights column, I wrote about convenience being a big driver of relevance. What if streaming classes to the masses made your club the most convenient option for people in your communities (and beyond) to become fit and healthy? Like Peloton for your club? It could not only be a huge value-add for your members but also help to exponentially increase the reach of your programs and visibility in the market. By the way, the same service enables you to stream classes to your club from outside sources. The streamed classes could include marquee instructors with global appeal or even could enable your best instructors to be streamed to your other locations or during off-peak hours. That’s leveraging talent.

This is not a call to promote digital streaming as much as it is for you to look at how you might embrace new technologies and business tactics as potentially beneficial, and perhaps even game-changing, rather than yet another unwelcome erosion of our market share.

Other examples of new alternatives offered at the CEO Summit included platforms that offer passes to clubs online or one that enables trainers to offer their services online. When you stop thinking about what new options might pull people away from your club, you can view this another way.

The biggest challenges limiting personal training are time, money and proximity (having to be physically with the trainer). If even one of these isn’t available, personal training doesn’t happen. Is it any wonder that typically less than 10 percent of our members avail themselves of personal training?  It’s not an easy service to access.

Change your mind-set by asking these questions:

  • What if you could eliminate even one of those obstacles?
  • What if you could eliminate all three?
  • Could this make personal training accessible to far more members?
  • Could this grow personal training revenue by 10-20 percent or more next year?
  • What if you could double personal training revenue in two years?

Flipping the telescope allows you to enjoy a new perspective, enabling you to ask new questions and draw fresh conclusions. If you don’t like it, you can always flip it back to the old way.