Editor's letter
Managing Health Clubs

We’re great at building clubs and creating well-designed equipment, and staff are better trained and qualified than ever, but the management challenge is one mountain we haven’t climbed yet

By Liz Terry | Published in Leisure Management 2013 issue 3


There’s never been a better time to be in the health and fitness industry.

Every day new research emerges to prove that exercise can help practically every known health problem, from depression to cancer – as well as being the most effective anti-ageing treatment.

People want to be healthy, they’re learning they need to exercise to achieve this goal and want to do it in ways which are convenient, enjoyable and affordable – great news for health clubs with the right business model.

We could be at the dawn of a golden age, when operators grow their businesses more quickly than ever before and achieve record profits and market penetration – but only if we can crack one yawning weakness.

That weakness is bad management: one of the only things that will stop the industry becoming pivotal to the lives of the majority.

We’ve cracked pretty much all the other challenges – industry suppliers compete to keep a flow of well designed equipment coming to market, we’re great at building clubs and staff are better trained and qualified with every passing year. But the management challenge is one mountain we haven’t yet climbed.

Although people have the cash to afford memberships, the market penetration of health club stands stubbornly between 12 and 18 per cent (depending on how you work out the numbers), and industry growth has plateaued, but these numbers are deceptive and hide a huge level of churn – most health clubs leak members like a sieve.

Any service business that loses customers to this degree has to look to its people for solutions. It’s time more business-owners in this sector recognised management is a discipline worth investing in, and that it’s worth paying for upskill instead of simply promoting the most competent gym instructor.

In the UK, it’s no coincidence that CIMSPA, the chartered institute that is meant to be leading the charge towards industry excellence, has failed to launch on three occasions and is now undergoing (another) ‘root and branch’ review.

My recommendation is that as part of this review, CIMSPA broadens its remit to include the entire wellness, fitness and sports sector and develops and launches a raft of training and qualifications designed to upskill managers in all these markets – especially health and fitness. There’s a real need.

If this process can be accelerated and managers trained, exciting things can happen for the industry; if not, it will keep bumping along, losing members through bad management and seeing the public’s enthusiasm for exercise being harnessed by a raft of competitors. In five years the people running the sector will look back and wonder what they missed.

 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Leisure Management
2013 issue 3

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Leisure Management - Managing Health Clubs

Editor's letter

Managing Health Clubs


We’re great at building clubs and creating well-designed equipment, and staff are better trained and qualified than ever, but the management challenge is one mountain we haven’t climbed yet

Liz Terry, Leisure Media
Liz Terry, Editor

There’s never been a better time to be in the health and fitness industry.

Every day new research emerges to prove that exercise can help practically every known health problem, from depression to cancer – as well as being the most effective anti-ageing treatment.

People want to be healthy, they’re learning they need to exercise to achieve this goal and want to do it in ways which are convenient, enjoyable and affordable – great news for health clubs with the right business model.

We could be at the dawn of a golden age, when operators grow their businesses more quickly than ever before and achieve record profits and market penetration – but only if we can crack one yawning weakness.

That weakness is bad management: one of the only things that will stop the industry becoming pivotal to the lives of the majority.

We’ve cracked pretty much all the other challenges – industry suppliers compete to keep a flow of well designed equipment coming to market, we’re great at building clubs and staff are better trained and qualified with every passing year. But the management challenge is one mountain we haven’t yet climbed.

Although people have the cash to afford memberships, the market penetration of health club stands stubbornly between 12 and 18 per cent (depending on how you work out the numbers), and industry growth has plateaued, but these numbers are deceptive and hide a huge level of churn – most health clubs leak members like a sieve.

Any service business that loses customers to this degree has to look to its people for solutions. It’s time more business-owners in this sector recognised management is a discipline worth investing in, and that it’s worth paying for upskill instead of simply promoting the most competent gym instructor.

In the UK, it’s no coincidence that CIMSPA, the chartered institute that is meant to be leading the charge towards industry excellence, has failed to launch on three occasions and is now undergoing (another) ‘root and branch’ review.

My recommendation is that as part of this review, CIMSPA broadens its remit to include the entire wellness, fitness and sports sector and develops and launches a raft of training and qualifications designed to upskill managers in all these markets – especially health and fitness. There’s a real need.

If this process can be accelerated and managers trained, exciting things can happen for the industry; if not, it will keep bumping along, losing members through bad management and seeing the public’s enthusiasm for exercise being harnessed by a raft of competitors. In five years the people running the sector will look back and wonder what they missed.


Originally published in Leisure Management 2013 issue 3

Published by Leisure Media Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd