Surviving 15 years from scratch – part 3: Community Lifting
When I started working out as a dysfunctional obese 12 year-old in 1969, lifting was a part of a sub-culture. Working out had not hit mainstream. I worked out in my parent’s basement until I joined my first gym in 1975 after I was hired as a police officer at the age of 18 years. The gym environment was uninviting, even nasty. I loved and thrived in that environment but I never modeled my gym X Fitness on that blueprint. Instead, I developed a Community Lifting environment that has been the main reason why we have survived for 15 years as an independent gym that started from scratch in a low-income city that became one of the most depressed cities in Canada.
Starting a 24-hour gym from scratch requires a team effort. But surviving for 15 years as an independent 24-hour gym requires a championship team effort, involving complex connections and interactions of variables, both tangible and intangible, that form a unique environment that builds a powerful brand separate from the rest. The intangibles have been more difficult to build, apply, and identify than the tangibles but the intangibles have been main factors that contributed to 15 years of beating adversity to survive. There is an extensive list of intangibles that have become part of X Fitness Policy. Our number one intangible has been Community Lifting – dual meaning.
First meaning: The soul of a community has many components. One component is its student-athletes. My wife and I built a Community Lifting environment in 1984 in the basement of our house, the original X Fitness, after I became an unpaid volunteer head coach of a high school team. The original X Fitness was home to our team lifting that took a unique shape. Community Lifting includes physical lifting and soul-lifting – lifting the spirit of the collective soul of a community of student-athletes. Some of my players described the lifting intensity as a spiritual experience. The Community Lifting environment transformed lives, athletically, academically, and professionally.
Second meaning: Community Lifting is gym environment that we set out to achieve at X Fitness, the climate of optimism, hope, improvement, and joyous expression of the soul through hardcore old-school lifting combined with an inviting, non-intimidating climate that has transformational qualities for both women and men rookie and veteran lifters of all ages. Our customer research has shown that the number one reason for member retention is our unique Community Lifting Environment that members use to describe an inspirational climate that allows every lifter to comfortably express his/her style of lifting without fear of intimidation or condemnation by other members.
In summary, the dual meaning of Community Lifting is an environment that appeals to the widest range of workout styles while concurrently lifting souls. Community Lifting lifts physically and psychologically to achieve mind, body, and soul fitness.
Without a Community Lifting environment that appeals to and attracts to the widest range of customer, we would have gone broke long ago. X Fitness never would have survived. Our Community Lifting environment has blended together multiple generations from 1969 to today. A Community Lifting environment doesn’t just happen. Nothing just happens, not overnight or randomly or accidentally. The intangibles of a Community Lifting environment have to be built one rep at a time, one word at a time. A number of strategies are needed to achieve Communication Continuity, the single-most important factor that affects every aspect of customer relations, recruitment, and retention within a Community Lifting environment. The next article continues this discussion.
Blessings & all good things.
Mill Pond Publishing Inc.
30 Mill Pond Drive
Georgetown, ON L7G 4S6