Change is hard. Change is scary. Sometimes, though, change is necessary. While those concepts aren't earth shattering, it is amazing how people avoid the hard and scary even when it is necessary.

I realized this just last month as I sat in Chicago's O'Hare Airport eating my McDonald's Extra Value Meal. Just two days earlier during Dr. Kelly Brownell's keynote address at Club Industry 2003, I stood among an overflowing crowd, mesmerized at the deteriorating health and rising obesity such foods cause. At that moment I was sure I'd change my ways and not “poison” myself while on the road — the only time I really eat fast food. But there I was back in my familiar pattern choosing comfort over change…change is hard.

I worry that too many club owners and GMs choose comfort when running their businesses, even if change is necessary.

While sitting in numerous conference sessions at the Club Industry show, I saw eager men and women scribbling frantically as speakers such as Michael Scott Scudder, Michael Combes and Sandy Coffman spoke about changing the way clubs do business to help member retention during the free panel discussion, “Realities of Retention: Learn from the Masters.” There was another early morning session where I observed other fitness professionals work on creative club design ideas during “A Hands-on Workshop on Designing and Redesigning a Club,” led by Rudy Fabiano. Still others were challenged to change the way they do business by speakers such as Ed Tock, Klaus P. Hilgers, Karen Woodard-Chavez, Rick Caro and numerous other industry leaders.

Each of those conference attendees left their sessions as eager to implement the many new and different ideas learned to help make their clubs and themselves better run and more successful as I was to change my road eating habits. I only hope for their sake and the sake of the industry that they do a better job of it than I did.

The time is at hand for the fitness industry as a whole to adopt new ways of doing business. Many ideas for change were born out of the sessions at Club Industry 2003. It is time for those attendees to take the ideas and incorporate them — no matter how different or how scary the change may seem — or else we are bound to see these same attendees scribbling away in similar sessions year after year as their businesses fail.

Knowledge is nothing without action and sometimes change is good.