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When Do You Offically Become Brain Dead??
Originally Posted 11/15/10

I have to admit I never knew that most vampires actually die because their life span is too long and they canít adapt to the vast cultural changes they experience in their current life. Who knew I missed this important fact in all my reading.

Yet according to the person sitting next to me on the plane, who was a forty something strange woman (read crazy bitch here) who claims to have read every vampire book in print, vampires born hundreds of years ago, say in the 1700ís, can only adapt through the centuries up to a certain level before they simply canít mentally adjust to the current times where they find themselves living. It seems that vampire brains have a set capacity for change in their lives and then they just shut down once this limit is reached.

For example, a vampire born in 1750 might be able to adapt through the next few hundred years but then find that the age of computers and high tech is simply more than his 1750 reference might allow and he kills himself by plunging into daylight. He lived too long and he simply couldnít adapt to all the changes he was faced with in his current life compared to the age he was born.

Although she made a strong case, and yes I did debate vampires with an insane woman but she was in first class and there was wine involved, I feel she was wrong. The people she is describing arenít vampires, they are gym owners, because it is a proven fact that fitness business owners only have a limited capacity to change and then their little brains shut down and they refuse to allow any new thoughts in their heads. It takes vampires a few hundred years before the current age they find themselves in is simply too much, but the average gym owner can shut his brain down in about eight years, a feat that must astound many a vampire.

An old client resurfaced a few weeks ago that I hadnít seen in a number of years. We are doing a workshop in his area soon and I asked if he was coming back this year? His answer was that he had just been to a workshop five years ago and didnít see the need to come this year. I then asked him if he had been to any other workshops or tradeshows in the last few years and he hadnít been to any of those either.

This guy has a terminal case of, "What you know is what you know,Ē which is often a fatal disease that can kill a business in a very short period of time. Five years without a new idea is a lifetime in this business, where change is immediate and often driven by the consumer more that the industry itself.

Letís see, what has happened in that last five years? Based upon a combination of research and market reality, letís see if our guy has missed anything:

∑ Research by Stuart McGill has ruled that the crunch is harmful. Aerobic queens and crap trainers are in mourning because they can no longer brag that they do a 1000 crunches a day, however they are happy because they might be able to walk again

∑ Curves has imploded and lost almost half its units in just three years

∑ Walking on treadmill at a few miles an hour for an hour has been validated as a complete waste of time if you want to lose weight or get into shape

∑ The functional based training center has emerged and is doing the same annual grosses that a mainstream big box does in most markets

∑ Functional training equipment is in and can be seen even on television. Going around in a circle on 1972 era circuit equipment is dead and the consumer has move on but sadly the owners havenít yet

∑ The last 14 pretend bodybuilders in the world are hunkered down in northern Mississippi wearing Crazy Wear pants, fanny packs and Otomix shoes and wondering where the hell everyone went

∑ The Female Body Breakthrough (R. Cosgrove), Movement (Cook), Advances in Functional Training (Boyle), The Impact Body Plan (Durkin) and The New Rules of Lifting (Cosgrove) have all been published. How much information do you really need to see that things are changing? Donít forget Core Performance (Verstegen) either as a major influence on the public we serve

∑ The cost of money and the exorbitant cost of building one of these units have limited the number of big boxes that will ever be built again. Are the big box chains in trouble? Yes, but it will be years before self realization strikes these guys. Remember, it is easier to think that those loses this year are just part of the economy instead of thinking that your business plan is stupid and left over from Jimmy Carter days

∑ Anybody see kettle bells, giant ropes or suspension training coming? Yet the huge majority of mainstream boxes donít have any of these tools in the club. And we wonder why so many members are leaving us for boot camps and garage guys with cool toys.

∑ All of these have companies were players 10 years ago: Goldís, Worldís, Powerhouse, 24 Hour, LA Fitness, Crunch, Ballyís, Nautilus, Flex, Body Master and Curves. Yes, these are mostly still here, but most are undergoing, or have undergone, major changes in how they operate and who they are to the consumer. Evolve or die applies to their side of the fence too.

∑ Heavy price driven ads, lead boxes, pressure sales, two and three year contracts, sales people cold calling appointments, three workouts and then the member solos, one-on-one training in almost every single club and price wars have all failed or destroyed the markets. When the tools you use are 20 years older than your club, you have issues my friend, you have issues

This list could go on and on. I am sure the readers will add a few of their own from the dinosaur pile. The key thought is that if so much has changed, why donít the owners who actually operate the clubs progress?

Most owners I have encounter through the years only have about 2-3 reinventions in them over a period of about 10-12 years. They will change their ideas and concept once, and maybe again, but most canít reinvent themselves and their business more than a few times.

The reason we seem to get stuck is that we have a very hard time giving up what worked for us once in the past, For example, a guy that wears some funky shirt out on a date, picks up a couple of women for the weekend and has the highlight of his life, is now ruined forever and I guarantee that the shirt he was wearing is his new lucky shirt.

The problem is that 10 years later he is still wearing that shirt out on a big night hoping to recreate the magic. He is older and is probably in worse shape, the shirt is no longer stylish but pathetic and this guy couldnít get laid with get out of jail free cards at a womenís prison. Times have changed but our hero is locked into the past.

Most owners are the same way mentally. This idea worked big for me when I first opened and I donít understand why it doesnít work now 15 years later.

Big idea: You hang on to the old ideas too long because you have not done the work to replace the old stuff with new ideas in your head. If the only thing in your head is old crap, then your solution to every problem in your business will be the application of old ideas the technology.

You live in the past because you havenít learned anything else. You are a one trick pony that is now too old for the circus. In other words, your little vampire brain has refused to grow and expand to meet the needs of the era you are now operating in.

What worked for you so many years ago doesnít work now because every single factor in your market; including the member, the culture, the competition, the current thought process, whatís on television and basic business concepts, have changed. The only thing that hasnít changed is you, although in reality you too have change physically but not mentally. You are the roadblock to progress in your own world because a new idea hasnít penetrated your head in a decade.

New ideas replace old ones but you have to open your head and chase them. If youíre struggling, maybe itís because your tool chest is 20 years out of date. Just because you had group sex when you were 25 doesnít mean that lucky shirt is going to work in the same bar 15 years later. If it still does, maybe it is you and you are a stud and it isnít really the shirt. Maybe that fact you are still in shape, have more money in your pocket, drive a nice car and learned to talk are more important factors these days. Maybe you did change over time to meet the environment and it has nothing to do with what happened to you years ago.

Here are a few things to do every year in this industry to keep you head open for change letting in new ideas and forcing the old ones out:

1. Read a business or motivational book a week. Sports Illustrated is not a book

2. Attend one major training function a year, such as the Perform Better Summit, and be a student involved in the learning process. Compare what you see to what you think you believe. Circuit training and bodybuilding is not coming back bucko and if you still do about 20 sets of curls and benches a week to get huge you have problems I probably canít help you with here. See a good psychologist and explore your insecurities

3. Attend a business workshop a year. I can list one if you are freaking clueless

4. Attend a major tradeshow a year. These are beginning to become horrible but IHRSA West Coast is always a good time and safe bet. Most small regional shows are not worth it anymore

5. Join and get involved in a professional organization. ACE for example, offers a lot of ongoing training and support for owners and staff. The Titleist Performance Institute also offers a number of different tracks and it can offer years of professional development that keeps you fresh and thinking. I also think it is mandatory for every owner and manager to get a personal training certification even if you donít train someone. We are in the fitness business, not the membership business, and getting results for the clients who support us will be the key to retention and sales in the next five years. No, just because you used to train a lot of people years ago doesnít mean you know how to train people. Put your lucky shirt away and get certified

On another topic:

We finished a three-day training implementation school in Chicago and it worked so well we are going to offer another one in Atlanta around the first of April. There has been so much interest and success with our training model that we are offering a complete turnkey workshop so you can get everything you need to be successful in just three days. Call the office if you want more information on the workshop or look for updates on the website and Facebook.

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