Small Changes...Big Impact

IHRSA 2018 is in the books and if you were fortunate enough to attend you may have noticed some recurring themes as you walked around the show floor. Group Training, HIIT, and Technology were all the buzz. No surprise there. However what stood out most was that the majority of companies did not introduce any big changes. Instead you saw many companies - ours included - make SMALL changes to proven winners in hopes of making a BIG impact.

It’s no secret that the name of the game in business is progress. We constantly need to be moving forward. As they say - if you aren’t growing you’re dying. What got you here will not get you there. Often times, however, we think that in order to make progress we have to make big changes. Sometimes that is true but many times small consistent changes will take you even further. Lets take a look at how we can apply this to our businesses and to our customers fitness.

Often times when a potential member walks through our doors they are nervous and intimidated. They know they should be doing something to improve their health but they aren’t exactly sure what. Going to the gym sounds like a great start. Picture this member mustering up the courage to come in to a club or studio perhaps for the first time ever. They are not sure what to expect. They are not sure what they will see or what they will be asked to do. Can you picture them? How do you think they feel? Nervous, intimidated, self conscious? Yes x 3!
Lets clarify that we are not taking about what I call the 1%ers. These are the people that love fitness, embrace the
pain and live for the sweat. They would find a way to get fit in the back alley with a few sticks and a bag of rocks! This member walks in with confidence ready for anything you have, looking for that new challenge that will take them to the next level. No, we aren’t talking about these folks. We love them but we are talking about the REST of the population that just wants the chance to get healthier, look better, feet better.

When this potential member walks through the doors they cannot be treated like the 1%. They probably aren’t ready for the high energy group training and they certainly aren’t ready for the trendy HIIT training. Sure these things will get them in shape but ONLY if they make it longer than a couple weeks. Unfortunately the data is pretty clear - adherence to HIIT training is lower in untrained individuals
primarily because they enjoy it less than traditional exercise. This population, the one that can really move the needle in our membership numbers, needs to be treated differently. They need to be shown the SMALL CHANGES.

In today’s fitness landscape it’s common to shuttle our new members in to the SGT (small group training classes). That is NOT a small change for the member. We’ve established that they are probably intimidated and self conscious and yet we try to thrust them into a group where the energy is high, movements complex and the people are fit! Yikes! Moreover we typically tell them they need to do this 3X per week and start paying more attention to their diet! On top of the stress of their new exercise program they start hearing terms like Paleo, intermittent fasting, ketosis on and on... no wonder most people don’t stick around.

What if we took this same person and introduced a couple small changes that they could make. “Ok Mr Jones - here’s how we get you stared at XYZ Fitness. We ask for two simple commitments this week. Come in 2 x and stay for at least 20 minutes. Also I want you to drink 4 glasses of water each day. Can I get your commitment on that?” Mr. Jones will most likely say yes and most likely follow through. Next week we add a little to it and so on and so on.

Guess what? In 6-8 weeks he will probably be ready to check out some of the other cool things going on in the club and you’ll be on your way to a member for life! Doesn’t that sound better than constantly trying to replace all of the members that leave every month? The simple point is that all members are not the same and treating them as such to meet our business needs is a recipe for defeat - yours and theirs!
When it comes to our businesses the same principle applies. Yes we need to be moving forward. Yes we need to be making progress but no we don’t have to make huge changes and try to do it over night. The best practice is to review quarterly what is working and what is not. Often times business owners are reluctant to do this because they simply don’t want to face the harsh realities that business brings! Don’t fall into this trap. Do your regular evaluation and find your winners. Which programs are working best, which ads, which  staff members. Take those things and dig deep and find out why they are working compared to the ones that are not. What are the elements of success in these people and programs that are setting them apart? Can they be improved? Is change needed? What would the benefits of the
changes be? The other trap we often fall into is changing to change, not changing to improve! The former approach often leads to the exact opposite effect - decline! Once you have identified the small changes to your winners and losers, implement them and monitor the results. Continue with the ones that are working, modify or eliminate the ones that are not. Life and business are simple games of evaluation and modification.

At The Abs Company we try to live by this simple philosophy. Small Changes lead to Big Impact. Each year we take our product line and evaluate where our successes are coming from. Not all products perform equally. We look at our top sellers, evaluate feedback from our customers and implement small improvements that the clubs and members will enjoy. We look at our under- performers and decide if changes can bring them up or if we need to let them go. It’s not based on emotion - but on the data. That’s how you win. For 20 years we have been Changing Lives from the Core. The path to our success has been paved with small changes. Try it out for yourself and for your members... get ready for the BIG IMPACT!
Originally Published Summer 2018 National Fitness Trade Journal