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Fitness Fad

Has the Fitness Industry had enough of deal sites?

Two years ago the deal site craze hit the fitness business and like many others we went along for the ride. There are many horror stories out there and I am sure there are equal success ` s too. When we first opened up we ran a very successful promotion for our  personal training, we had a a huge response, but in essence we were giving a fantastic deal, not only did we sell a lot but our website traffic went up tenfold for about a week. So we got business and a lot of advertising. So how did it pan out? DEAL TIME

In a way the  sales "success " is related to how much you want to " lose " per client initially and how much you think you can then flip into full paying customers is how you return on your investment. However you don't always attract by discounting what is right for your business long term.... I think some people would be shocked to hear we had clients asking " why can't I come at 6 pm?" and not understanding that someone was already in that particular slot and wasn't going to be moved just for them. Some people saw the deal  as a quick health fix on the cheap.. trust me this doesn't happen, devaluing  your health is always a strange way to look at life,they  could not understand that we were part of a lifestyle change process, or it didn't appear so.I don't think some people " got it" , failing to turn up on time or at all, not seeing anything other than " cheap" , pressuring for times that were not available , wanting workout plans  ... almost looking at our business as " cheap", maybe you get what you ask for?

Other people however just wanted to check us out, find their place and are still with us now( 18 months later), a remarkable conversion rate meant we kept and retained  a high % of our new found guests.So our first deal venture went well , produced long term clients and got us a lot of publicity.We were probably too generous and at the time deals were selling in abundance..I guess we would call it a success...One thing we were determined to do was to treat our deal clients the same as any other full paying client. I had read many stories about second rate service, failing to deliver on the deal promise, we didn't want to do that, it didn't seem right.

DEAL PART TWO

Roll on one year and we did the whole thing again , different deal company , this time we only offered bootcamps, it appeared that the appetite for a deal was undiminished and we sold hundreds of coupons, the phone rang for what felt like a week...most of the questions were .. well,, what can I say... less than smart. We were giving 20 classes for $49 dollars ( we get 50% of that) .. less than a dollar a class to the business....or $2.50 per class for the client .. for a fully equipped bootcamp you couldn't beat it, deal on.

We had to add extra classes and as such staff to help appease everyone... it just ended up being a headache. Never would you have thought so many issues could have surrounded such simple piece of business.....you would have thought that we were stealing from these people ( ordinary price was advertised at $189)...the amount of abuse we had to endure... people became oblivious to the goal , which we thought was to get healthier , and kinda made it feel like ..well... just about the deal and not much else... I could go on but I was almost ashamed to be part of the whole thing so the less said the better.Just as an example " Deal Expires 10th August" in our advert, people still calling us to " start " on the day before and get irritated that we tell them that it expires tomorrow, like its our fault, phew.However we got through and everyone was catered for.

As the deal came to the end we emailed all (250) the new clients to see who wanted to continue, offering them yet another deal ( basically half  our full advertised price... this gave people bootcamps by the hour for around $8 bucks, by far the cheapest in the city) . Amazingly only one person took us up on the promotion, it was still a great deal, but it came from us ( and not a deal site) and it didn't have the same impact on the psyche of the buyer. We had managed to capture only one customer from 250. The only thing that changed is the price...sadly the value placed by the customer  on  health was lower than $8 an hour, we were absolutely gobsmacked.

I wondered what these people were doing now? Moved on to the next deal? This was a year ago and its interesting to see ( I don't look often) how many fewer fitness deals are now being offered.

In summary we weren't unhappy with our returns , our first training deal was amazing and paid big returns, our second summed up our general feelings on " deals"  that the audience you are trying to attract long term may not be attracted by short term economic means.

Our bootcamps are full and thriving right now....

I like the term " best weight"...

Recently I joined the Canadian Obesity Network, something that I stumbled on during my quest for more information on all subjects health related, they produce a neat little read entitled " Best Weight " ( Freedhoff and Sharma). I want to pick out some of the best bits that I think are helpful to those looking to loose weight...

I always like to see if my client has realistic expectations and a plan, more often that not I find that they don't have either. Further questioning may be needed to learn about motives and objectives.Aesthetic reasons can often be a prime motivator and these could be short term ( my daughter is getting married and i want to get into a specific suit) or long term goal like improve self esteem or finding a grew partner...However successful weight loss for aesthetic reasons may be harder to achieve than doing the same for health reasons. If weight loss is driven by self esteem or concerns over  body image then these issues need to be addressed first. To assist in that sometimes I refer clients out to a life coach...

If the goal is health related weight loss its nice to share with the clients what to expect, maybe increased energy or less knee pain....I try to define objective quality of life goals that can be obtained in a reasonable time..success should be measured by achievement of these goals rather than actual weight lost.Maybe we should take away that the goal of weight loss is not about numbers on a scale but to reduce health risks and improve quality of life. Even a 5 % weight loss can produce measurable medical results!

In goal terms its probably best that they are as least daunting and obtainable as possible...rapid weight loss cannot be sustained, it can be achieved short term , but has a negative affect on lean tissue in the body. Sustaining weight loss is more important than achieving massive numbers..its better to lose 50% less than too regain it all and sometimes more back...

This leads me to the concept of " best weight". I do like this concept, its refreshing and I am surprised that I have never come across it before. Its so simple.The book describes " best weight " as a non statistical goal that is easy to set. Clients can take their weight down to any weight they put their minds too, but to maintain that weight they need to enjoy the lifestyle that got them there.

The term " best weight" is the weight achieved whilst living the healthiest lifestyle that they can truly enjoy. They maintain that there is a point when you can no longer eat less or exercise more and still like their life. The weight achieved whilst still liking their life is the " best weight " achieved without further intervention...and that is the lowest weight currently possible.For sustained weight loss the client should consume the smallest number of calories that allows them to enjoy each day.With exercise clients should do as much as possible, but there is a maximum above which the person will not do, chances are they will come to hate exercise, then they quit.

Eating less and exercising more in a situation that the patient doesn't enjoy is the definition if a diet which is why 95% of them fail as the client returns back to previous lifestyle choices. A healthy lifestyle is the smallest number of calories and the greatest amount of exercise that a person can enjoy.

Ref: Best Weight . A practical Guide to obesity management ( Yoni Freedhoff and Ayra Sharma . ) Published by The Canadian Obesity Network

Compliance...why can't people just do it?

This is one of my favourite topics. I talk over the " compliance " issue more than any other subject and with a massive wide variety of people. For me its one of the hardest factors to "make sense" of, because really in black and white terms failure to do something that has been suggested to you as health beneficial is only going to cause your problems later down the line. Its sad in a way and frustrating for both client and trainer and I still have trouble understanding the root of this issue. I heard a recent story about a recovering heart attack patient who was not taking his prescribed medication because he didn't like pills,  compliance here was a potential  life and death issue  .I  guess people are so complex there is no one particular reason why this situation existed. Maybe he just didn't see the benefit, to most it appears black and white, take the pill, live, don't take the pill , potentially die.

However, there is growing consensus among researchers that the behavior of the health care provider has a significant influence on patient adherence. Specifically, the health care professional’s ability to communicate and explain information while expressing warmth and concern for the patient appears to be associated with increasing patient adherence. Which from a personal training perspective makes the job just that little bit harder. Some people just don't see the benefit of " extra " anything  or indeed " less " of something , getting them to even go to bed 30 mins earlier is like asking them to amputate an arm...we have become so stuck in out habits that all change however small is resisted. However small amounts of change can bring big returns.

 

WE TALK ABOUT IT A LOT

But on a more individual level I have clients that ask me for " 5 Minute " programmes of exercises they can do daily, how often do they follow through and do it, sadly almost never. I discuss these issues with a Lifestyle Coach and to sum up our joint  thoughts would translate to something like this..instead of me (trainer ) telling you WHAT to do, but that both the trainer and the client should work together to come up with a compliancey solution. Instead of being told what to do we need to find or create new thought patterns,or habits, in affect we have 2 people working on one problem, not one telling the other what to do !

We discuss sleep and mainly the lack  there of. I can find any client 100 articles promoting the benefits of sleep, I can send these articles to my clients..I can find no research ( haven't really looked ) promoting a lack of sleep and its benefits. However, people may still not see the value in sleep and you then may have to look for the reasons... " why" .. ." Why do you not value sleep"? Its the a matter of understanding the clients sleep beliefs and the disregard for it may come from elsewhere in that persons life and history.

It appears that what people value most they do most, when it becomes the most important thing to that person they may end up complying. From a  trainers standpoint we want everyone to comply with what we suggest and if that persons belief system is different to ours  then we have difficulty in understanding why people do what they do. Perhaps the best way forward is to simply say " what can I do today thats going to help me towards my goals?" Do something, small , simple and achievable...

One thought that goes through my head is we just don't love ourselves enough , then I found this quote which sums it all up

"You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of our love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." – Buddha

SOME INFO FROM THE UK.

I found the following information on Wikipedia to give you some idea of the problem health care faces in the UK
  • up to 90% of diabetes patients do not take their medication well enough to benefit from that medication
  • 33-50% of some cancer patients take less of their anti-cancer medicine than required.
  • only 75% of coronary heart disease (CHD) patients take sufficient medicine for it to be effective.
  • Up to 75% of hypertensive patients do not adhere to their medicine.
  • 41-59% of mentally ill patients take their medication infrequently or not at all.
  • 33% of patients with schizophrenia don’t take their medicine at all, and 33% are poorly adherent.
  • Less than 27% depressed patients adhere to their medication

In the UK, the societal impact of such high levels of non-compliance is significant:

  • 110,000 people per year die prematurely from coronary heart disease that is largely preventable. Death rates are three times higher in manual workers than among managers.
  • If CHD patients adhered to their medication, each year 40,000 – 50,000 fewer people would have a stroke and 25,000 would not have a heart attack.
  • 25% of cancer patients have to cut back on food shopping to cover the extra costs of cancer.
  • 70% of patients with advanced cancer suffer with pain, very often in conjunction with other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and confusion, amongst other symptoms.
  • 1,400 people die from asthma attacks each year, 90% of which are avoidable

The most common causes for lack of adherence appear  to be aging, lack of education, lack of information about the benefits ( of taking the prescribed medicine) and on, I also read that between 20 and 30 % of prescriptions in the US go unfilled.

So if the Fitness Industry is a mess what should we do?

What do I see in the future of the fitness industry? I recently devoted a blog to my thoughts on why its such a mess and out of control, it is after all a relatively new industry ,commercial gyms probably only came into being in the 1970`s, Personal Training, as we know it sometime in the late 80s... My point in short was that it has become a sort of cash cow preying on fear and emotion...( for example big box gyms like to exploit this ...my most recent work experience within such an environment had me hawking my services around at about a minimum investment of 5k, selling a minimum package of 50 sessions, this was somewhat painful if, in my professional opinion the client only needed 20 sessions , and after all its the " professional " you are paying for, as such I had to attempt to sell something that the person didn't really need, or indeed want )...yes folks it was all about the money, never about the client.

Needless to say client results ( those who had paid for a trainer), in my opinion were low and trainer turnover was high....it was like a semi successful business model , one side made a load of cash , the other side of the equation ... well, you know what I am saying.

My first observation I guess then across the whole industry is lets see clients as people not as a waking ATM machine, I once heard a training pressuring a client to come back and train again on the same day, yes, really.

Secondly lets put some regulations out there that mean something, anyone can own a franchise small box gym, a training studio, don't get me wrong it gets more opportunity  to people out there in places that weren't previously served , but hey can you imagine running a yoga studio and not having a clue about the discipline , not able to offer basic gym user advice is surely a recipe for disaster.

Yes its about business but really its not is it? Its about health.

It appears that anyone can open up a chain of weight loss clinics and franchise them to anyone who has the cash...there are many of these chains out there, are they any good at taking your cash and giving results...well they are good at one side of that equation too. Can you imagine giving cookie cutter weight loss advice too someone who is desperate ...would you feel guilty if you were selling like this...

Thirdly, I am bored with fad diets and the people who peddle them...book after book, do you know how many times in the last ten years of my career that some one has said to me " what do you think of Atkins, South Beach, Cabbage soup, hi fat , low fat, low carb ...latest book on Oprhey  etc etc" its crazy.. publishers wanting to cash in , fashions are fads eating healthy shouldn't be.

It drives people crazy as they jump on board the next train to " ten less pounds" to fall off at the first station. Ever notice how many people want to lose " ten pounds".... .The whole media , Tv , press, advertising should consider that pumping out health advice for profit isn't really helping.There are some great exceptions ( I like Dr Oz ..but even then he recommended something last year that was sweeping the nation so to speak , I even saw handwitten cards in a local supplement shop proclaiming basically you were going to lose 20lbs and live to a ripe old age if you took his product, emails swept around the net... and then.. nothing).

Everybody wants the scoop , then the next scoop...it fills up TV space. I saw a programme yesterday morning selling a treadmill with a desk built in so you could use your laptop and still use the treadmill, apart from the fact that its dangerous , stupid and  totally unnecessary the show just went right along recommending it, ITS WRONG GUYS. You have a responsibility to the nation to give good, impartial ( not product placed ) advice.

Fourthly, lets start thinking for ourselves, do we need reality TV shows to tell us our nutrition is crap, do we need another diet book to tell us what we are eating is wrong, do we need anymore people telling us to exercise more,eat more vegetables, get more sleep , guys we can do this for ourselves , we don't even need gyms... lets not be dictated to by some early morning chat show host who knows nothing about anything really let alone fitness , lets be mindful on what we are doing.

Just think where did your grandma go for advice on nutrition, she didn't she worked it out for herself.