Friday, 28 November 2008

State of the Industry – Instructors

Many people in the fitness industry recognise that one of the major issues is the low remuneration and recognition of instructors. Yet only a few seem to be doing anything about it.

Sure, instructors need more money, but in a vocational profession, they also need more fulfilment, and to make a difference. And if they can prove that they are making a difference in people’s fitness and in their club’s member retention, more recognition and money will come along.

An Instructor’s Epiphany – Rob’s story
At the start of this year I resolved to take control of my own future and to really try to help more members at our club to be more active, more often.

After muddling through a couple of spreadsheets, I built a list of 100 members who I knew well, and noted their last visit date. I wanted to try to make sure 80% of them had always visited the club in the last three weeks. I would see how the numbers looked every 2 weeks, and get in touch with the people who were in my danger list. Every time I exceeded the 80%, I’d add a few more names to my spreadsheet, a mix of new joiners and other members that I knew. Before long I was keeping an eye on over 200 members.

The gym manager (who has worked here the longest) wasn’t too bothered about the numbers or the fact that I was making a real difference to members returning to the club. Being a naturally outgoing person, I find it easy to connect with the members; after all, they pay my (meagre) salary. If you always say “Hi” when you see people in the club, it’s easy to call them or e-mail when they’re not coming and ask what they’re doing, or when they’re coming next.

A couple of the other instructors saw what I was doing, and started copying me, which was great, because their members noticed and liked it too. And while my direct boss still wasn’t interested, the operations manager found out what I was doing, and now I’m being promoted to gym manager, and my old boss is looking for a new job.

Our club is more successful, members are fitter and more motivated, I have more responsibility, and I’m earning more. Which is nice all round, I think!

It may be that some instructors need a little coaching to get this model to work, and some gym managers will no doubt need a little help looking through the data, but these are relatively small hurdles in the grand scheme of things.

*More People, More Active, More Often – the FIA mantra

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Cool Autumn Runnings

OK, up and running again… not been for a few weeks, as I’ve been away, and the last run was a bit of a beasting over the cliffs of Hastings.

Today was my first proper autumn run. Splashing through puddles and mud in the woods, half of the autumn leaves on the ground and half still on the trees. Cold, wet, and not very motivated when I set-off. This is the time that you sometimes need a little extra to keep you going. If you can keep going through the autumn, the winter seems easier somehow.

Feeling absolutely knackered, knees and achilles hurting after a couple of ks, and then just as I came up to the halfway “bottle” point (where the 2nd loop starts), my iPod on random plays Bloc Party’s “I Still Remember”. Nice. No question about giving up halfway, off I went for another loop, and the full 5k.

We all know that music boosts exercise capacity but this really confirmed that I need to sort out my autumn running playlist and powersongs to keep me going through the difficult season.

No personal best today, but back in the groove, and looking forward to the next autumn run through the puddles, leaves, wind and rain. Bring it on!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Software Implementation – A how to guide…

Many software implementers have got it wrong.

Here’s a typical scenario:
Training follows installation, and for a number of days, the members of staff are expected to take in all the aspects of the new system. Management might attend the first hour or two (if they’re interested), but then go off to do more important ‘management’ things. The trainer leaves, and the staff continue to use the parts of the system that they like, or that they remember from the information overload.

This seems to be the same whether the system is being installed at a bank or a gym – an information assault on the staff followed by underuse of the system, and then management wonder why the system does not deliver as promised.

New scenario:
Consultant sits down with management and gives high level (1 hour max) overview of all the possibilities of the system. A coffee break follows, and then management spend another 30 mins with consultant deciding on key functionalities to deliver first, and timescales.

Staff are then trained in these key functions, and left for one week or so to learn how to use them, and get to ask more [intelligent] questions, before the next training session on the next part of the system.

Probably more time consuming, and expensive, but when you’ve spent all that money on buying that smart new system, why not spend a little more time learning how to get the most out of it?