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20 Things that AmazeThomas Plummer
Originally Posted: 05/20/09

Life on the road is a mystery in itself. Why are people always so angry at airports? How can airlines claim to be in the service business and yet still be so rude? At what point does someone just give up and decide to be really fat and not even try. I came to this particular question after watching two really big women order triple scoops of ice cream with Coke chasers at the Atlanta airport.

Life does confuse me by its weirdness and entrances me by its vast array of characters so, based upon too much time sitting in an airport bar, here are about 20 things that still amaze me in the fitness business and in life.

1) That equipment companies spend so much money at trade shows (a million dollars per show for the big companies) and get so little out of the events. Massive trade shows actually seem to work against the large companies in that you have so little time to build relationships with the very customer you are seeking. All those companies would make more money if they go back to their roots and put more money into the face-to-face relationships and less on trying to impress other vendors at the big shows. They all suffer from the fear that if we aren't doing a big booth at the show, then the other competitors will tell everyone we have financial problems. Tell who? Not many people go to those shows anyway these days. Smaller booths you equipment people and more money in building relationships at the line level where the deals are really done.

2) I am dumb founded that we still design clubs exactly the way we did in the 90s, yet the client doesn't train that way anymore. Vast fields of equipment designed for the smallest segment in the clubs-the bodybuilder-isn't productive. The consumer wants functional/lifestyle training but we still just throw him another circuit line. We lie to the clients when we tell them that going around in a circle will get you into shape. We do this because it is easier to let the equipment provide the service instead of us actually learning how to train people into a higher level of fitness.

3) Getting into shape and losing weight is the goal for the largest majority of our clients. If results are truly what you are after as a member at a club, then training with someone like Alwyn or Rachel Cosgrove, Rick Mayo, Rod Steward or Frank Nash will get you better results more quickly in their small specialty clubs then you will achieve at a 20 million dollar massive structure with 100,000 square feet. Why is it that you always see real fitness people, defined as those involved in an athletic endeavor, always training in the small specialty clubs and never using the mainstream fitness facilities even if they are as big as a small town in Iowa? Because it's the expertise, not the shear amount of equipment, that gets you to the next level.

4) It amazes me every week that a hotel in almost any city in America can take the same level of employee we use and turn them into customer service machines and we aren't even smart enough to tell our employees to take the damn gum out of their mouths at the front desk.

5) I find it sad that so many owners still drop close the potential member (knocking off $100 if you sign up today and today only) insulting him, giving the industry a bad name and still expecting it to work. Drop closing is a perfect example of how bad this industry still is.

6) I use to worry about it more but I have aged and become jaded when it comes to consulting. Why do so many people go so far out of their way with time and expense to ask me questions and advice and then do something different that has been proven to hurt other businesses just like theirs?

7) Why are there still women bodybuilders? What a demeaning sport for women although I do admit that the women's fitness contests are like watching a happy hour at Hooters gone bad and are equally scary.

8) Why can one trainer with a few kettle bells and medicine balls get you in better shape than the large majority of trainers working in a commercial gym?

9) Is the golf swing the single most difficult move in sports? Greg Rose at TPI (mytpi.com) says so and I think he is right, especially when you see so many athletes from other sports get so humbled.

10) It is amazing that owners spend so little money to hire staff, train them for about an hour, throw them at the front desk and then bitch about how bad staff is these days. Hire better people and put a lot of training into them and stop being a staff moron.

11) Why is it more important for most owners to prove that something they learned from another club owner 10 years ago in a different market, different time and different culture still works and that a worthless idea from a decade ago is more important than making money in today's market. Very little from our past still works with today's more sophisticated buyer, yet we refuse to embrace new tech and new ideas built for today's market.

12) Why would someone still smoke after the millions of pages of research available that tells you it is one of the dumbest things anyone on the planet can do? And this goes for fat people too. When you struggle hauling your fat ass up stairs (assuming the elevator is broken) it is God telling you to drop the donut and get your ass moving. Why would most people rather die than change?

13) Why do most owners insist on making up crap, such as programming and software solutions, instead of buying something proven at hundreds of clubs? Buying off the shelf makes more sense than endlessly trying to rip off programs because you are cheap or egotistical.

14) It is frustrating to watch an owner let staff make decisions he or she should be making, such as an old aerobic queen who refuses to bring in a proven national program or the book keeper that fights getting a national third-party financial service company to handle the receivables. We know these people are fighting for their jobs and will make decisions they perceive to protect themselves but why does an owner listen to these people?

15) It was interesting to see a new start up company at the IHRSA show that obviously spent big money on getting new equipment to the market. The equipment-stuff that simulates working out with free weights. Why not just save $75,000 and buy the free weights instead?

16) It amazes me that people still buy Nautilus. It proves that the equipment had brand power but after all these years it is just another line of fixed plane stuff and the fitness world doesn't really need that much more fixed equipment even if you were the first.

17) I have lost a lot of sleep over the years wondering why owners refuse to learn about marketing, don't market regularly and then die from no leads. What is more important to a fitness business than leads? Why would you cut marketing first and guarantee the death of your business?

18) Why are there owners in this industry who couldn't do 25 pushups to win a thousand dollar bet? Hey you knucklehead, Pizza Hut is hiring.

19) Why don't people who open gyms understand that it is an 80 a week job and you work a lot of nights? Why would you think you can build an expensive business and then go home at 5:00 and turn it over to kids working for $8 an hour?

20) It should be law and it should be part of every owner's mandatory read before they open: You can't fix stupid no matter how much money your daddy has?
And a bonus

21) Why don't you bring your staff once a year to our workshops, get new ideas because we do change every year, and write a business plan during the workshop that you can install as soon as you get home? When was the last time you got out of the club and spent three days working on fixing what is wrong and seeking new ideas that will take you to a higher financial level? And why we are at it, why don't you go to other seminars and get new ideas from guys like Perform Better or Titleist Performance Institute?

Thought for the week: Get your butt moving. You should be working on a total relaunch for September to take advantage of the rising markets and improving economy. Only the aggressive will dominate a market and it is your time to move fast and capture share.

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