In Real Life, We Cover the Bad with the Good

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Stories that deal with serious situations may not appeal to everybody, but they are an important part of our coverage of the industry.

We received two comments last week criticizing us for reporting too many stories about rape and murder and death. In the past, some people have told us that these stories are too negative for us to report and take away from positive stories occurring in the health club industry.

I wish stories of rape and murder and death did not exist, but as long as they do, and as long as they affect health club owners, operators and members, we're going to continue to write about them.

Why? Because these stories involve real life. We don't live in a vacuum. If we don't report about charges of child molestation in fitness facilities, then we don't do a May cover story on how to keep kids safe in your clubs. If we don't report on the lawsuit involving a Planet Fitness employee allegedly ignoring the pleas to help a woman who collapsed in the locker room (and later died), then we don't do a blog on the importance of training your staff in emergency situations. If we don't report the mass shooting in an LA Fitness, like we did in 2009, then we don't do a story on how clubs could handle such a horrific event. All of these stories offer you valuable information to help protect you, your staff and your members.

On a different plane of negative stories are those that involve mergers and acquisitions and layoffs. In La-La Land, every club is making money and enjoying significant growth. But in the real world, some clubs are distressed and looking to sell. This year's Top 100 Clubs list, which is out this month, was greatly affected by the multiple acquisitions in this industry over the past two years. Some clubs on the list that had a disappointing 2012 reported a decrease in revenue from the previous year. That's life in the big city. The operators of those clubs had no qualms about reporting a negative number because they know how important this list is to the industry. I have as much respect for those clubs who reported negative numbers as I do for those who reported positive figures.

Sometimes, health club CEOs resign, whether by their own choosing or whether they were simply let go. Some club executives are let go en masse, as was the case with 24 Hour Fitness. We reported that story in March, and people are still reading about it four months later. Real lives were affected, and people want to know about it.

The choice to read these stories is up to you. I am not telling you to unsubscribe to Club Industry or "unfollow" or "unlike" as the case may be on Twitter and Facebook. Believe me, I follow some people on Twitter who frustrate me so much that I want to hit that unfollow button with full force.

One of my favorite follows on Twitter is Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated. Although he does not write about the more serious topics mentioned above, his tweets sometimes get on my nerves, especially when he gets in back-and-forth elementary school-like spats with his followers. He'll even tell people straight up that they're the ones who continue to follow him, and if they want to unfollow, they can.

But those who unfollowed Deitsch would have missed what he did late Monday night. After a tip from reader Steven Bennett, Deitsch asked his followers if they had one photograph of the best moment of their lives.

The response was overwhelming. People tweeted him photos of their marriage proposals, their first-born children, their first day after cancer surgery, their last days with their loved ones. It was a film reel of real life before our eyes, captured by Twitter and, later, reported by The Atlantic. Had I chosen to unfollow Deitsch, I would have missed it all.

I'm sure there will be tweets and spats of his in the future that I won't care for, much the same way you may not care to read about some of the harsh realities taking place in our world, and in particular, our industry. But what we do here is report the news and trends that affect the fitness industry. It's the good with the bad. It's the film reel of our lives.

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