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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Management series: The management challenge

Health clubs must invest in upskilling health club managers if the sector is to gain credibility and build a strong future, says Liz Terry

By Liz Terry, Leisure Media | Published in Health Club Management 2014 issue 1
management is worth investing in. it’s time to upskill instead of simply promoting the most competent gym instructor

There’s never been a better time to be in the health and fitness industry. Every day, new research emerges to prove that exercise can help practically every known health problem, from depression to cancer, as well as being the most effective anti-ageing treatment.

People want to be healthy, they’re learning they need to exercise to achieve this goal, and they want to do it in ways that are convenient, enjoyable and affordable: great news for health clubs with the right business model. We could be at the dawn of a golden age, when operators grow their businesses quicker than ever before and achieve record profits and market penetration – but only if we’re able to crack one yawning weakness.

That weakness is bad management: it’s one of the only things that will stop the industry becoming pivotal to the lives of the majority.

We’ve cracked pretty much all the other challenges: industry suppliers compete to keep a flow of well-designed equipment coming to market, we’re great at building clubs, and gym staff are better trained and qualified with every passing year. But the management challenge is one mountain we haven’t yet climbed.

Time to upskill
People have the cash to be able to afford memberships, yet the market penetration of health clubs stands stubbornly between 12 and 18 per cent (depending on how you work out the numbers) and industry growth has plateaued, simply because of the huge levels of churn – most health clubs leak their members like a sieve.

Any service business that loses customers to this degree has to look to its people for solutions, and it’s time decision-makers in this sector recognised that management is a discipline worth investing in and paying for. It’s time to upskill in this discipline instead of simply promoting the most competent gym instructor.

In the UK, CIMSPA – the Chartered Institute set up to lead the charge towards industry excellence in the field of professional development – has faced a number of challenges since it was launched and has recently undergone a comprehensive, ukactive-led review, unveiling its new business plan and governance structure in November.

Feedback gathered during the review included the need for the Institute to facilitate quality management training; many members and stakeholders also said it should be “a badge of quality”. “We’re aware of the challenges that face managers in the sector, whereby a third of them don’t have the appropriate skills or qualifications for their role,” acknowledged Steve Philpott, CEO of DC Leisure, in response to the review.

The health and fitness sector needs an organisation that can champion management training and qualifications and open a debate about how we can upskill staff; CIMSPA’s restructure has been designed to establish it as the strategic lead in this area.

Good track record
We’ve done this before with REPs, so we know it’s possible. In the case of REPs, the sector was after government recognition and cash in the form of subsidies. The sector was told in no uncertain terms that, unless health club staff were registered and trained, the government simply couldn’t recognise, support or engage with the industry. That was the push we needed as a sector to get on and create REPs – the Register of Exercise Professionals.

But while our fitness instructors are now qualified and registered, we’ve so far failed to create the same training and career development infrastructure around our managers. There’s no degree available in health club management, no proper career path to be followed and – if we’re honest – fairly limited prospects for ambitious people to build big careers.

Yet done well, the job is a sophisticated, demanding and complex one, which requires high levels of knowledge in everything from exercise science to marketing, and from innovation in food and beverage to yield management. It also requires managers who can deliver in both B2B and B2C environments, while also seeking out and developing partnerships for outreach work.

Sector-wide responsibility
The newly revitalised CIMSPA will now set out to support the fitness sector in developing such managers, with solid career pathways that help staff progress from technical roles to management level.

CIMSPA has already received a vote of confidence from the sector, with operators such as DC Leisure investing in the development body since its business plan and governance structure were approved by members.

But the responsibility cannot rest on CIMSPA’s shoulders alone. Here at Health Club Management magazine, we think health club management matters, so we’re committed to raising the profile of this important area by sharing information and inspiration about best practice. In a new series that will run throughout 2014 – developed in conjunction with CIMSPA – we’ll be highlighting areas of interest and sharing knowledge and expertise on health club management.

We believe passionately that it’s time health club management was taken seriously as a discipline in its own right in the wider business community – but if we as a sector don’t invest in it, value it and innovate within it, then the chance of our sector achieving wider respect and recognition is non-existent. It’s time the industry put management training at the heart of the agenda.

Liz Terry has been writing about and analysing the global leisure industries since 1983. She’s managing director of Leisure Media, which includes Health Club Management in its portfolio of leisure-focused magazines.

Email [email protected]
Twitter: @elizterry

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Good management is vital to the growth of the fitness industry / all Photo: Shutterstock.com
Good management is vital to the growth of the fitness industry / all Photo: Shutterstock.com
People want to be healthy and are learning that they need to exercise to achieve this goal – great news for health clubs / all Photo: Shutterstock.com
People want to be healthy and are learning that they need to exercise to achieve this goal – great news for health clubs / all Photo: Shutterstock.com
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/HCM2014_1challenge.gif
Health clubs must invest in upskilling their managers if the sector is to gain credibility and build a strong future, says Liz Terry
Liz Terry, leisure media,Management, managers, GM, training, upskilling, CIMSPA
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Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
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Management software
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Uniforms
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Architects/designers
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Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
13-14 Oct 2021
Online,
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates

features

Management series: The management challenge

Health clubs must invest in upskilling health club managers if the sector is to gain credibility and build a strong future, says Liz Terry

By Liz Terry, Leisure Media | Published in Health Club Management 2014 issue 1
management is worth investing in. it’s time to upskill instead of simply promoting the most competent gym instructor

There’s never been a better time to be in the health and fitness industry. Every day, new research emerges to prove that exercise can help practically every known health problem, from depression to cancer, as well as being the most effective anti-ageing treatment.

People want to be healthy, they’re learning they need to exercise to achieve this goal, and they want to do it in ways that are convenient, enjoyable and affordable: great news for health clubs with the right business model. We could be at the dawn of a golden age, when operators grow their businesses quicker than ever before and achieve record profits and market penetration – but only if we’re able to crack one yawning weakness.

That weakness is bad management: it’s one of the only things that will stop the industry becoming pivotal to the lives of the majority.

We’ve cracked pretty much all the other challenges: industry suppliers compete to keep a flow of well-designed equipment coming to market, we’re great at building clubs, and gym staff are better trained and qualified with every passing year. But the management challenge is one mountain we haven’t yet climbed.

Time to upskill
People have the cash to be able to afford memberships, yet the market penetration of health clubs stands stubbornly between 12 and 18 per cent (depending on how you work out the numbers) and industry growth has plateaued, simply because of the huge levels of churn – most health clubs leak their members like a sieve.

Any service business that loses customers to this degree has to look to its people for solutions, and it’s time decision-makers in this sector recognised that management is a discipline worth investing in and paying for. It’s time to upskill in this discipline instead of simply promoting the most competent gym instructor.

In the UK, CIMSPA – the Chartered Institute set up to lead the charge towards industry excellence in the field of professional development – has faced a number of challenges since it was launched and has recently undergone a comprehensive, ukactive-led review, unveiling its new business plan and governance structure in November.

Feedback gathered during the review included the need for the Institute to facilitate quality management training; many members and stakeholders also said it should be “a badge of quality”. “We’re aware of the challenges that face managers in the sector, whereby a third of them don’t have the appropriate skills or qualifications for their role,” acknowledged Steve Philpott, CEO of DC Leisure, in response to the review.

The health and fitness sector needs an organisation that can champion management training and qualifications and open a debate about how we can upskill staff; CIMSPA’s restructure has been designed to establish it as the strategic lead in this area.

Good track record
We’ve done this before with REPs, so we know it’s possible. In the case of REPs, the sector was after government recognition and cash in the form of subsidies. The sector was told in no uncertain terms that, unless health club staff were registered and trained, the government simply couldn’t recognise, support or engage with the industry. That was the push we needed as a sector to get on and create REPs – the Register of Exercise Professionals.

But while our fitness instructors are now qualified and registered, we’ve so far failed to create the same training and career development infrastructure around our managers. There’s no degree available in health club management, no proper career path to be followed and – if we’re honest – fairly limited prospects for ambitious people to build big careers.

Yet done well, the job is a sophisticated, demanding and complex one, which requires high levels of knowledge in everything from exercise science to marketing, and from innovation in food and beverage to yield management. It also requires managers who can deliver in both B2B and B2C environments, while also seeking out and developing partnerships for outreach work.

Sector-wide responsibility
The newly revitalised CIMSPA will now set out to support the fitness sector in developing such managers, with solid career pathways that help staff progress from technical roles to management level.

CIMSPA has already received a vote of confidence from the sector, with operators such as DC Leisure investing in the development body since its business plan and governance structure were approved by members.

But the responsibility cannot rest on CIMSPA’s shoulders alone. Here at Health Club Management magazine, we think health club management matters, so we’re committed to raising the profile of this important area by sharing information and inspiration about best practice. In a new series that will run throughout 2014 – developed in conjunction with CIMSPA – we’ll be highlighting areas of interest and sharing knowledge and expertise on health club management.

We believe passionately that it’s time health club management was taken seriously as a discipline in its own right in the wider business community – but if we as a sector don’t invest in it, value it and innovate within it, then the chance of our sector achieving wider respect and recognition is non-existent. It’s time the industry put management training at the heart of the agenda.

Liz Terry has been writing about and analysing the global leisure industries since 1983. She’s managing director of Leisure Media, which includes Health Club Management in its portfolio of leisure-focused magazines.

Email [email protected]
Twitter: @elizterry

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Good management is vital to the growth of the fitness industry / all Photo: Shutterstock.com
Good management is vital to the growth of the fitness industry / all Photo: Shutterstock.com
People want to be healthy and are learning that they need to exercise to achieve this goal – great news for health clubs / all Photo: Shutterstock.com
People want to be healthy and are learning that they need to exercise to achieve this goal – great news for health clubs / all Photo: Shutterstock.com
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/HCM2014_1challenge.gif
Health clubs must invest in upskilling their managers if the sector is to gain credibility and build a strong future, says Liz Terry
Liz Terry, leisure media,Management, managers, GM, training, upskilling, CIMSPA
Latest News
A new high-end workspace, designed for the use of personal trainers, coaches and other health ...
Latest News
VAT reform, adjustments in business rates and a fitness-led high street regeneration push could see ...
Latest News
Peloton has completed the merging of its commercial operations with Precor, the equipment brand it ...
Latest News
Half of UK adults aren't happy with their physical fitness levels, according to a study ...
Latest News
Temporary measures brought in to support businesses in the UK from insolvency during the pandemic ...
Latest News
Nadine Dorries has replaced Oliver Dowden as the Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture ...
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In a major move against the gym market, Apple has revealed a number of upgrades ...
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Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Shipping gym equipment from Europe to the UK
Despite the Prime Minister’s claims that trade with the EU would be tariff-free post-Brexit, the reality has become very different when importing gym equipment from the EU.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: EMS personal training: shockingly simple
People's fitness goals are extremely diverse – ranging from an elite athlete focused on the next goal to someone who dislikes all activity due to chronic back pain.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active bolsters Everyone on Demand and enters second year with five new partnerships
Everyone Active has signed a number of new deals which will see the operator strengthen its digital product offering, Everyone on Demand.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active generates £342m in social value
Award-winning leisure operator Everyone Active generated £342million in social value at its sites across the country in 2019/20.
Company profiles
Company profile: Matrix Fitness
Matrix provides innovative commercial fitness equipment to facilities in all market sectors including private health ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Orbit4
Orbit4 is the umbrella brand for FitnessCompared, FitnessFinance, WeServiceGymEquipment and WeBuyGymEquipment....
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Uniforms
Service Sport: Uniforms
Architects/designers
Zynk Design Consultants: Architects/designers
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Exercise equipment
Pendex Fisio S.L.: Exercise equipment
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Fitness equipment
Octane Fitness: Fitness equipment
Property & Tenders
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
13-14 Oct 2021
Online,
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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