With the new year comes new beginnings. Back by popular request is our “wish list” for 2021!

1: Let’s replace the term SALES with INFLUENCE.

influencer with a crowd at their back

The term influence is defined as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something”.

To be a successful influencer, we’ve found these five characteristics a must:

Whether you are making a video, writing an article, or promoting active living, the public has a sixth sense for detecting insincerity and have become more sophisticated with regards to their overall knowledge of active living. An important aspect of authenticity is practicing what you preach as it is this quality that reinforces messages.

Consistently create content:
To produce a following, consistently engaging your audience is a must for a successful influencer. We must remember that content is consumed instantaneously therefore maintaining current content is often a challenge. However, as we’ve seen with some of the greatest influencers of today (positive and negative), keeping your content up to date is essential to staying relevant with regards to the influence you will have on your following.

Managing your followers:
A videographer friend of mine recently received a “like” from a celebrity he follows and celebrated that moment like he hit a game winning shot. That reach out, that simple recognition from the celebrity, reinforced the fact that a follower was relevant in some way and immediately bolstered the bond the videographer perceived to have with the celebrity.

Trust is the guide for virtually every decision we make. When we believe in the information given to us and surround ourselves with people we believe in, together they will guide us to decisions. Conversely, a break in trust can be devastating as statistics state that nearly 50% of consumers indicated they would stop buying a product if trust is lost. They say when you show authenticity you create the space for others to do the same. It requires vulnerability, transparency, and integrity but well worth the effort as it is the essence of trust.

While trust is the glue that connects influencers with their audience, passion is the fuel. With passion brings energy and creativity and is tremendously infectious. Passion flows to and from influencers to followers creating a connection that is symbiotic in nature.

Our jobs as leaders in the Active Living space is NOT to manipulate people into a decision. Instead, it is our responsibility to bring forth the tremendous benefits of what exercise can bring and navigate people towards a safe and rewarding journey.

Enough of the term “SALES”. Let’s be positive INFLUENCERS and bring forth the benefits of active living… instead of trying to hawk memberships to people.

2: Let’s truly make Active Living become an extension of the medical world.

stethescope and weights for working out
The healthcare industry has evolved tremendously and continues to change rapidly from a fee-for-service offering to a value-driven system rooted in outcomes. A significant part of this process is a focus on preventative measures that are taken to circumvent illness or injuries. The active living/fitness/wellness space has a tremendous opportunity to step in and lead this aspect of care yet we continuously stumble.

Despite what some people imagine, a medical fitness model does not occur just by placing a Physical Therapy office inside a gym. One of the key ingredients to a medical fitness model is the development of individualized health risk management to maximize a person’s health and quality of life. It’s an investment and would affect ratios but a strong and definitive commitment to medical fitness by industry experts would bridge our industry to the medical field and tear down the proverbial firewall that currently exists.

3: Let’s hope programming models will adapt and embrace “Club without walls” offerings.

boot camp group doing sit ups
The basis of active living success is found in creating healthy habits. Habits have been paused or even halted for nearly a year and it will take time to build back not only the trust of former members, but support them as they build back healthy habits. To do this we must meet them in a place, both figuratively and literally, that they are comfortable. Taking programming outside the confines of the club and into neighborhoods is the first step. Utilizing natural resources such as mountains for hikes, beaches for yoga, and parks for social events not only brings the club to the community, but extends the proverbial welcome matt to future members and gives them a taste of what could be. Health clubs can still be the mecca-center of activity… but to regain confidence and rekindle enthusiasm, clubs must extend beyond their walls and reach out to current and future members.

4: Let’s move the industry forward with regards to technology, partnerships, and overall mission.

man checking his pulse on a smart watch
My friend Bryan O’Rourke is a champion and is constantly reminding us of opportunities regarding technology in our industry. In an Athletic Business article in 2016 Bryan states “think of a world where you don’t have a front desk…where you are wearing a device that knows you’re coming in and checks you in automatically…think of a world where you finish your training and the club has prepared a smoothie for you”. “Think of a world” is my favorite part of his quote. Bryan is a visionary and represents the best the industry has to offer.

The essence of club life is connecting.. NOT distancing. Technology has proven to make the user experience more efficient and dramatically aids the most vital part of the member/club relationship- communicating. Communication is not just texts anymore.. it’s sounds, videos, and feedback and makes the user experience an interactive one. Apps such as heart rate monitors and sleep monitors provide quantitive data (needed for the above mentioned medical model) while technology brings even the simple act of jumping rope with a smart rope a more dynamic experience.

It’s not just enough to have all these wonderful tools at our fingertips. We need to utilize them consistently and more productively to bring the industry to a level other industries will want to partner with us. A great example is the auto industry as they have partnered with Samsung and Apple to produce an exceptional driving experience, and much safer one, by utilizing technology. As my colleague Geoff Hampton states “One of the greatest keys to success is the ability to evolve.” He’s right!

5: Let’s see a resurgence of independent owners.

Herve Sedky of Leap Fitness in Marblehead MA
There was a time where the focus of the industry was on independently owned clubs. Where active living was truly a community effort and independent clubs were supported by a new organization called IHRSA. Where clubs like Cederdale, Saco Sport and Fitness, Weymouth Club, Maryland Athletic Club, The Bel Air Athletic Club, Dedham Athletic Club, Longfellow, and Franco’s Athletic Club set and raised the bar. Conferences were reunions as well as learning experiences and while there was a strong competitive spirit, there was also a sense of support and familiarity.

While the proverbial playing field has been uneven for some time, as we come out of the pandemic, everyone will be starting from scratch. With nearly 25% of all clubs permanently closed, displaced members will eventually seek places to turn to and the opportunity to service potential business will be significant. In the last two weeks I’ve visited 3 vacant clubs that are in “turnkey” condition that eventually will reopen under new ownership. Additionally, there are numerous storefronts and commercial real estate vacancies that will be available for entrepreneurs to retain at favorable prices. Combined with the fact that virtually new equipment is available from closed venues, the initial steps into the industry are much easier then they were a year ago.

Of all the wishes we have it is our hope the industry comes together and builds credibility. We shouldn’t be grouped with Casinos. We shouldn’t be fractured. It’s time to bring out the best the industry has to offer… because it truly does have a lot to offer.