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TRAINERS » Your Business Public speaking doesn’t cost a pen-

ny and is an excellent way to pro- mote your club. I do at least two talks a week. Recently, for example, I spoke at a restaurant in collaboration with a chef, at a corporate “wellness week,” at a hospital and at a club event for our members and their guests. If you want to draw a crowd, the ti-

tle of your talk is critical. Be sure you don’t call it something uninspiring like “Lose Weight the Healthy Way.” Instead, borrow ideas from and be inspired by the covers of the tabloid magazines. Keep your demographic in mind of course, but titles like “Fit into Your Skinny Jeans” or “6 Weeks to a Better Body” are what people will re- spond to.

Mike Bates owner, Refine Fitness Studio, Windsor, Ont.

the risk of obstacles and challenges. However be prepared to be surprised! Even the best plans may not turn out the way you envisioned them. Face the challenges and adapt. For example, for the first twenty


years of our business we leased our space; then ten years ago the land- lord decided to not renew our lease. Finding a large rental space in down- town Calgary during a booming econ- omy seemed insurmountable. At first we were devastated, until we realized it was an opportunity. We made the decision to have control of our next space, and we purchased our own building. Besides having control, ownership let us design the space specifi- cally for the needs of our members and for future growth. If you look beyond

the challenge and step out of your comfort zone, you can make a positive change for your company and customers.

Elaine Arthur co-owner, Heavens Elevated Fitness, Calgary

30 Fitness Business Canada November/December 2012

Be open and adaptable We have learned that plan- ning and preparation minimize

team members. Being strong in your hiring approach is critical to being suc- cessful in our very competitive market. This business is all about relationships and your team is your most important resource. Our club has been in busi- ness for a decade, and most of our orig- inal team is still working with us. At Strategym we don’t count on job


candidates finding us – we seek them out. For example, when I taught cours- es at the University of Manitoba and for the Manitoba Fitness Council I was able to observe and evaluate students over time and then invite them to ap- ply at our club. And be smart about hiring in all

ways. For example, we had no job openings when a topnotch Calgary trainer moved to Winnipeg and came to see us with her resume. But we made a position for her because she was so outstanding in all ways (plus we didn’t want our competition to hire her!). We fed her a few initial clients, and then inertia took over to fill her schedule.

Pam Horan co-owner, Strategym, Winnipeg

friends and enjoy themselves. If after a few months new members still find exercising a chore, they lose interest and quit. Or if everyone is working out with earbuds, they won’t meet other members, may never get over those awkward first few weeks and will then drop their memberships. We encourage people


to interact and we infor- mally match up training partners; my staff and I know 90% of our mem- bers’ names. Besides help- ing your bottom line with regular dues payments,

long term members will also buy your branded clothing, bags and bottles, which helps advertise your club.

Focus on friendly Make your club a friendly place where members make and meet

Be proactive about hiring My best advice for club owners is to be very choosey when hiring

It’s hard to stay in business these

days, especially in small towns where there are limited numbers to draw from. If 2,000 people come through your door each year, you’ll be in trou- ble if you retain only 200.

Terry Adams owner, Iron Haven Gyms, Prince Edward Island

needs to be well capitalized because the fitness business today is very much a finance business. Customers are leery about pre-paying for mem- berships and large membership join- ing fees. Make it easy to join your club by providing membership plans that reduce the amount of money people need to pay in advance.


Understand the financial side Anyone opening a club today

The same issue is happening with

personal training. In our World Health Edmonton clubs the majority of sales are financed. If a member buys 12 sessions for $720, they can finance these charges over 12 months ($60 per month, no interest), but the mem- ber can use all 12 sessions in the first month. This means that the club is paying out costs related to payroll, sales and marketing well before receiv- ing full payment from the member. So significant working capital is required to provide these add-on services. One of the best ways to expand

your financial knowledge is by attend- ing education programs at the annu- al IHRSA convention. In my first few years in the industry I also attend- ed the IHRSA Institute, a week-long event dedicated to professional club management.

David Hardy President, World Health Edmonton Inc. President, OTF Canada Inc.

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