by Don Longwell
Preparation in basic skills is necessary for those first days on the job. With initial success and achievements, uncertainty and fear of failure abate and the new career is cause for delight and pride in oneself. “I can do this!” What a great feeling.
But a subtle and unforgiving force is often overlooked in those early days. Everything, everywhere, as always, continues to change. The nature of evolution in the business world is universal. Adapt or face extinction. The need for lifetime learning and the ability to apply that knowledge when required is critical to ongoing survival and prosperity.
New ideas, shared experience, skills training, business knowledge, case history analysis, success stories, disaster stories– all and more are important to making those critical decisions as to what to do next.
Adapt and Survive
All business decisions are acceptable when they are made. It is only afterwards that we find out whether they are good ones or bad ones. The world is too complex a place to be entirely sure of the application of our knowledge. Making the right decisions will be immeasurably helped by knowledge and experience but preparation for unexpected reversals is always critical to staying alive – both in nature and in the business world. You have to take chances to get ahead but there are always unknown variables. You have to be confident in your abilities, know your job –as it relates to the business you are in, and be prepared to move quickly when the changes around you call for action.
The need to know
Where do fitness professionals go to keep learning? There are many specializations within the fitness business and they continue to evolve. Basic skills differ but all are important: Business Development, Management, Finance and Accounting, Marketing and Sales, Group Instruction, Front Desk, Personal Training, Facility Maintenance, Sport Specific Training and Coaching, Office Administration and the list goes on.
We live in a world where it is difficult to know who and what to believe. It seems that everyone has their own broadcast facility. There are websites, blogs, twitters, facebook connections, google searches skypes and emails in addition to all the long established media sources and educational institutions. The fitness business is complex and constantly changing. It is helpful to know how other operators are doing, what industry wide financial measures are trending, what members like and dislike, what programs are successful and why, what equipment is needed, what help is available and where to find it.
There is no scarcity of information. How to decide on reputable sources and how to use this information is a constant research challenge for club operators and staff.
We are fortunate in Canada to have a number of certification and training associations both home based and international to choose from. Provincial associations are staffed by dedicated professionals and volunteers providing services that uphold industry standards. Canfitpro has emerged as a homegrown success story delivering training and certification services, tradeshows and industry support across Canada. Long established international organizations such as IHRSA, NASM, ACE and NSCA offer specializations and information sourcing.
The formation of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada has at long last established an association presence to represent the fitness business in dealings with government, to both serve the cause of working together for common benefit and to protect fitness providers from common threats.
Club owners, directors and management are best qualified and positioned to provide support training and development choices. I recall my own membership at a Toronto club some years back. A new manager took over. Within several weeks the whole atmosphere and sense of what the club was changed. It was not just the new manager. Staff manner and behavior was not the same. I have seen such changes before – some positive, others not. The point is that ownership and management can be essentially absent, in which case a kind of random standard of service develops, or, management can provide serious change.
Investment in management and staff training and professional development can determine success or failure in business. This is particularly true in the fitness industry where interactions between staff and the membership as well as individual member programming is so important. FBC contacts with club owners, directors, management and staff over the years have been extensive. Their motivation for self improvement is strong and universal. While considerable opportunities are offered for staff training, particularly in the area of personal and fitness training, there are fewer opportunities for in depth management training specific to Canadian club operations.
We can do better
Our publication, Fitness Business Canada, and monthly enews FitNet, communicates regularly with fitness management and staff across Canada. Our primary role is to support a network of idea sharing and news reporting on the events and individuals shaping the continuing evolution of the fitness business in Canada. We are devoted to our work and have received considerable encouragement from our readers. Nevertheless, we can do better.
FBC sponsors and supports all established suppliers and associations that provide quality products, support and services to fitness providers. We wish to improve on this support. We are particularly eager to support new opportunities that will be of value to fitness operators and management. We will do so within our publications using the publishing innovations made possible with advanced electronic communications, and through our publications by upgrading our support to those organizations actively serving the training and development needs of the fitness business in Canada.
We invite your comments and suggestions.
Don Longwell founded Mill Pond Publishing Inc. in 1979, served as Executive Director of IHRSA Ontario from 1988 to 2000 and launched Fitness Business Canada magazine in 2000.
Toll Free: 1.888.920.6537
Mill Pond Publishing Inc.
30 Mill Pond Drive
Georgetown, ON L7G 4S6