Everywhere you look in the media, Americans seem to be making great progress when it comes to fitness. Dr. Phil always achieves miracles, diet supplements produce phenomenal before-and-afters, and magazines describe case after case of weight-loss wonderment.
Yet, upon closer scrutiny, something seems to be awry. More kids and adults are out of shape than ever before, and all the studies say it's only going to get worse.
But what about the success stories? Are people really losing weight, changing their lives and making the changes permanent? Do all of the success-story participants get revisited 12 months later? Are they still successful with keeping the weight off and exercising?
Many of these success stories may be blown out of proportion, but some people are making progress and changing their lives for the better. The majority of these fitness transformations are happening in health clubs. Most people who join may not use the club regularly, but they're achieving more results there than anywhere else.
Why? It is a combination of things, starting with a motivating environment and the best equipment. The positive interaction of people — members with staff and members with members — creates the best available set of circumstances for people to change.
When someone with little motivation to be active buys a piece of home equipment, is it realistic to think that person will be magically transformed into someone of consistent action? Does the equipment say, “I know you had a hard day, but you can do it. You're becoming the best you can be?” Does the book jump off the shelf and communicate to the person what they should do to get going and keep going?
Health clubs do not have all the answers, but they have better answers than anywhere else, and clubs continue to improve. Fitness facilities are more inspiring, their trainers are more knowledgeable than ever before, and they own more state-of-the-art equipment than at any time in history.
Are all clubs doing this? Surely not, but for the most part, the industry is constantly looking for ways to get better at helping people.
If the United States wants to improve the fitness level of its citizens, the club industry will have to continue to lead the way instead of waiting for the government to take action.
Any news of pharmaceutical companies getting closer to the “magic pill” for the easy way out (eat all you want and remain inactive, and the pill will take care of everything) gets immediate media attention. Yet, does anyone truly believe that a pill will stop the normal bodily function of producing fat without significant side effects and inevitable lawsuits? Case in point: one medication now has 75,000 lawsuits against it for side effects.
All this leads to the question: what are you doing as a club owner, manager, trainer or even a front desk person to be better at helping people? What do you do daily to be the best you can be in leading the way? Do you regularly communicate to your members and marketplace that more fitness happens at your club than anywhere else?
To get this message across to your members, line your walls with success stories, introduce potential members to members with fitness success stories, and make local schools, businesses and the media aware that your club is available for seminars and positive insights on fitness.
It's almost as if you want to overwhelm people in your market with all the goodness that goes on in your club. You can't get that message out enough. Clubs are simply the best option for fitness and will continue to be for a long time.
Bruce Carter is the president of Optimal Fitness Design Systems International, a club design firm that has created about $420 million worth of clubs in 45 states and 26 countries.