Cameron Hedges, general manager, Results-Fitness will present a seminar at IHRSA titled “Changing the Way Fitness is Done,” at 1:30 p.m., Saturday March 17.
Tell me what you hope participants will get out of this session.
I’m hoping that they get a sense of what we believe is the future of our industry, from a business perspective, but also from a training perspective. What we believe the current gym or fitness industry is lacking is culture from a business perspective. Because of that lack of culture, it’s hard to put together successful teams. Our industry has a high turnover rate as far as employees. IHRSA did a study on the penetration rate over 60 years and it’s around 23 percent. We’ve been doing things the same way for so long from a business perspective and it’s never really worked in terms of getting people out and healthy. I’m hoping we can give folks a different perspective. What’s made us so successful is that we have a focused and incredible culture that we’ve worked to develop in the gym. We do that by having core values, we hire and fire based on those core values, and they’re important to our members as well as our team get holistic picture. We’ve been successful and we want to share that.
What are those core values?
We have 10 and we’re working on updating them: The first is bring your best; No. 2 is be professional; No. 3 is have integrity, be honest and transparent; No. 4 is have only good days and great days; No. 5 is be we, not me; No. 6 is constantly learn, always improve; No. 7 is have fun and a sense of humor; No. 8 is strive for profitability; No. 9 is exceed expectations; and No. 10 is keep leading.
When you say "create a culture" what do you mean?
I believe that we run a successful gym because we believe as a team you have to have successful, structured systems — there has to be a certain way you do things. The example we use is McDonald's: They don’t make the best hamburger in the world, but they sell billions. You can go to any McDonald’s in any country and get the same hamburger. When you have a system like that, people will always know what your product is, and I think we miss that a little bit. We don’t have systems. The bigger gyms hire independent contractors, coaches do their own thing and they all represent that gym. We have a philosophy of training and the team understands that philosophy and agrees with the core values.
The team came up with the core value systems that are in place at the gym that we use. [There's a] certain way that we do things, the way we treat people when they walk in the door, the way we answer the phone, our strategy sessions. It’s all the same system and it’s an attitude, too. We only hire people we feel we can work with. They don’t have to be the most skilled; oftentimes I’ll hire least skilled person if they get along with us. We ask ourselves, "Does this person fit?" I don’t care about experience or lack thereof, we want to know can we work with this person is the answer yes, then we hire them.
We work really, really hard to make sure that we have a strong relationship with one another as a team and that relationship goes out to our clientele our members.
How can specialty fitness retailers create the culture you talk about?
Specialty retailers and gyms, we’re in the same business. It’s a customer service business first and foremost. I think creating a culture goes far beyond just doing that in the gym, and one of the most successful retailers, Zappos.com, is a wonderful example of how a company, any company, can develop a really strong culture. That culture branches out to their customers and clients and improves the overall experience. From selling fitness equipment, personal training and a gym memberships, the better the culture, the stronger the teams and the systems, the more successful you’ll be.
Why is IHRSA an important platform for this information?
Obviously it’s huge, but it’s huge in a way that you’re speaking to fitness professionals and from all aspects of the industry as far as retail and training. So many people are present that you have the opportunity to speak to and speak with, learn from and teach. You get a well-rounded fitness industry group.
How can specialty fitness retailers benefit form this talk?
Because for the past 60 years in the fitness industry we’ve had a low penetration rate with the population in America, and I think if we can change the way fitness is done. And if we can change our level of customer service in our industry, we can create this wonderful culture and improve overall experience for clients and customers. If we do that, we’ll get a higher penetration rate. Let’s say instead of 23 percent we get it up to 40 or 50 percent. Specialty fitness retailers have to benefit from that because we (gyms) reach more people, fitness retailers can really, really take advantage of that in a really good way because they’re the ones supplying equipment and clothing these people are going to go out and buy.
How exactly should we change the way fitness is done?
When we say we want to change the way fitness is done, we want to be part of that educational movement to let people know there is a way to do things differently that can be very, very successful, that makes clients happy and our teams happy. That’s what our intrinsic goal is as a team.
How far along are we on that change?
I don’t know. We have a business coaching business. Our owner is Rachel Cosgrove has coached 96 affiliate gyms that are adopting our systems. Of course they get to put their twist on it and do those types of things, but they come and they learn from us. We have affiliates all over the U.S. and even in Lebanon that are adopting those things. It’s huge part of being able to change how fitness is done. It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling, the same type of feeling you get when you get results with your clients. I don’t know how far along we are on that change, but I do know that it is changing.
How do you think specialty fitness retailers could better serve customers?
I think again it goes the same thing: Fitness retailers, like anybody else in the customer service business, need to focus on their customer. The bottom line is the bottom line and it’s important, they are businesses and they need to make money in order to stay open and pay their employees. What happens, particularly when the economy is shaky, is it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers and we really forget about the customer and that they’re the boss, they’re the ones putting food on the tables and keeping our business open. We need to focus on our clients and our customers, improve their experience, wow them and exceed their expectations at every turn. If we do that, they’re always going to come back.