Dear Editor: Thanks for the coverage in Club Industry November 2000 [10 Questions With Alan Schwartz, page 37]. I was out of the country these past three weeks and the magazine was a warm homecoming.
Your questions were challenging and on target, raised issues readers are interested in and gave me an opportunity to let people know the exciting things happening in the world of tennis.
I do have one problem where I need your help, if possible. On page 38, about two-thirds of the way down, a sentence states that treating pros "as independent contractors...builds loyalty to the club." I may well have said that, as I know you transcribed what I said carefully. I meant, of course, exactly the opposite, as the entire rest of the paragraph indicates. Pros should be employees and get full benefits and not independent contractors where they get no benefits. Employee status helps build loyalty and shows caring and appreciation.
I also appreciate the opportunity you gave Michael Mahoney to be a contributor [Court Sports for Profit]. I read it for the first time earlier today and liked it very much. If Club Industry subscribers read this article, they should pick up on several valuable tips. You have done them a service with Michael's article.
Alan G. Schwartz
Chairman Tennis Corporation of America
The Editor responds: Thank you for the kind words, Mr. Schwartz.
Regarding your quote about independent contractors: The goof was mine. I typed, "The second point, treating them as independent contractors, builds loyalty to the club." I should have put the word "not" before the word "treating." Unfortunately, my omission changed the entire meaning of the sentence. My apologies for the mistake.
To reiterate: Alan Schwartz suggests that you treat your tennis pros as year-round employees - giving them the same benefits you give to your other staff (e.g., 401k, health insurance). This costs more, but it makes the pros more loyal to your club.
Dear Editor: Thank you for your letter in the November 2000 issue of Club Industry [In Defense of Personal Trainers].
I read with interest your encapsulation of the L.A. Times article about fitness professionals. I would like to offer an observation as a member of this field. Over the years I have met a number of trainers who have body image issues, misconceptions about fitness, and eating disorders. I have also found that these people often, but not always, have the "do as I say, not as I do" mentality. Frequently, I believe their clients have not detected their own fitness issues.
The lack of scientific discovery in the article you discuss does not surprise me. The media is in the business of attracting attention. Using scientific data would not generate the horror and other emotions you described.
I have found the fitness industry is like any other. There are some great trainers and instructors, and some not-so-great. It is extremely important for exercisers to "interview" their trainers just like you interview any other professional. If new exercisers don't know what to look for, there are resources available with that information. It's tough to sell the idea of shopping for quality in an industry that is almost exclusively price-driven.
Thank you for your effort to shed some light on the subject and defend those of us who are making a sincere effort to meet the needs of our clients.
Andrea Groth, M.S.
FedEx Wellness Center
The Editor responds: You're welcome, Ms. Groth.
As I wrote in my original column, I realize that the industry does have its share of trainers whose misguided efforts hurt more members than they help. Still, I believe that the mainstream media has a habit of concentrating on the worst possible examples in the fitness industry. The L.A. Times article is a case in point. Rather than report that some fitness professionals suffer from poor body image, the article relies on hyperbole and exaggerated facts to make it seem as if the majority of trainers and instructors force unhealthy habits on unsuspecting clients. Not only is this unfair, it frightens away the people who could benefit from working with fitness professionals.
Too bad the the article that I cited seems more concerned with sensationalism than responsible reporting. Personally, if I had a subscription to the L.A. Times, I'd cancel it.