Marketing your Program

July 30, 2012

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To create action among the sedentary population, offer them something they can’t refuse. The notion of just exercising will not appeal to most of them.

Due respect for a little blood. Part 2

July 25, 2012

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This does apply to fitness centers, even though some staff members may rarely, if ever, encounter a client with a bloody injury. While the incidence is rare, and the risk is small, the consequences of acquiring hepatitis B or HIV are extremely serious.

Due respect for a little blood. Part 1

July 25, 2012

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A little yellow rubber ducky sits, retired, in our advertising office in Los Angeles. The retirement of this still young and perky-looking bathtub toy was courtesy of a visiting inspector from CALOSHA (California’s program under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration).

Behavioral Contracting

July 18, 2012

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So you’re building a team in the workplace — or at least trying to improve the relations of your staff members. You, as the manager, or the staff as a whole, have identified some areas in which various staff members could use some help in becoming better team players. For example, maybe a staff person feels everyone is out to get them or maybe someone has a tendency to be pessimistic about new ideas. If you can’t quite put your finger on the problem area, this month’s Management Matters may help.

How do you go about beginning to work on (and getting the staff members to work on) building a team? One technique is called behavioral contracting. Behavioral contracting is essentially a forum designed to open communication lines between individuals by focusing on clear expression. Before your team can progress, you may need to go back to this level first. Some basic behavioral contracting guidelines are as follows:

Behavioral contracting sessions. These sessions should be scheduled so that each staff member has a one-on-one meeting with every other staff member. The sessions also should be scheduled at a time and in a place where the two staff members will not be interrupted. You may begin with half-hour meetings. Be sure to schedule everyone involved on the staff or team; this way, no one will feel left out or singled out. The manager also should schedule a session with each staff member.

Format. The format of the sessions will look something like the following: The staff members will sit facing each other, without a table between them. Each of the two is free to bring up anything about the other’s behavior or work performance that annoys them. Taking turns, with each person covering one issue at a time, is a good way to start. They are also encouraged to bring up behaviors and actions that they appreciate about the other person. Each person will then share their expectations of the other person. For example, one expectation of a staff member may be to refill paperwork bins when they’ve taken the last form or to deal with a conflict immediately, rather than allowing it to escalate to a blowout. Keep in mind that most sources of conflict are unmet or unknown expectations. It may be helpful to have a mediator, such as the manager or department head, to get the ball rolling and keep the session focused on the problem at hand.

Content. The content of the sessions may vary. The manager may address more serious issues such as paranoia and negativity with the staff members, while the staff members may address lighter issues initially, such as taking the last membership form at the front desk without refilling the bin or stealing someone’s ego food. For example, someone says, “I’ve really had a busy day,” and the other person says, “You’ve been busy! You should see all the work piled up in my area, and I can’t even get to it.” Or someone says, “I finally finished that project that I have been working on for the last eight months.” Instead of the other person saying, “Congratulations, you must really feel good,” they reply, “Yeah, Carol also finished the project she has been working on as well.” This style of communication takes away the food that people need for their ego.

Expectations. Expectations of the sessions may vary. So, expect that it may take some time for staff members to become accustomed to these sessions, open up and get some meaningful work done.

However, remember to reward the small achievements. Keeping a written account of progress made and referring to it often is a good way of ensuring that progress gets noticed.

Future sessions. Future sessions should be scheduled monthly in the beginning and less frequently as more progress is made.

Mark’s Journal: Week Six. Part 2

July 11, 2012

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You may have even noticed a lack of appetite. With intense stress, the gastrointestinal system goes on hold so the body can prepare for fight or flight. Free fatty acids are released into the blood stream for energy since the person has reduced food intake. We see this in hospitalizations, traumas, grief, etc.

Mark’s Journal: Week Six. Part 1

July 11, 2012

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Dear Sharon and Armand,
Well, I have lost another pound and am down to 194 pounds. Unfortunately that’s all I can tell you.
Last week I had a very trying week, and I only exercised once. I did not keep a food log. However, I ate pretty much as usual. To be honest, I had problems with my home life, and I think it will work out now. I apologize to all for letting you down.

Smoking Cessation and the Fear of Fat

July 9, 2012

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People who had given up smoking more than 10 years previously were not more likely to be overweight than people who had never smoked. And, current smokers were found to be less likely than the other groups to be overweight.

Imagine, and Profit in the Next Decade

July 5, 2012

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Ten years is a significant period of time. It’s a long time in some perspectives; very short in others. But marking such an anniversary creates at least a pause for reflection. Celebrating an anniversary tempts a magazine to treat its own history as the history of the industry it serves. It’s too easy to dig into the dusty old articles and photos and recount one’s wonderful coverage of industry events, trends and techniques. But, the resulting self-congratulations may be more appropriate to a eulogy than to strategic leadership of an industry.

Fitness Management has spent 10 years helping to prepare its readers for a more successful future, so it seems appropriate to us to keep this 10th anniversary issue focussed on management techniques and strategic thinking for the future.

We have seen the fitness industry mature a bit in the past decade. There have been some very attractive and successful programs. A few fortunes have been made in supplying new categories of equipment that captured the enthusiasm of the exercising public. But, unfortunately, the enthusiasms of the non-exercising public have not been captured by the exercise movement to the extent I thought was possible 10 years ago (which was just about the end of a decade or so of the fitness “boom” — or “craze” as some called it). By anyone’s statistics, today, the great majority of people are still not regularly engaged in a fitness program.

There are breakthroughs yet to be made in extending fitness services to the very large, unreached markets. Fitness Management magazine does not know what those breakthroughs will be, but we do know something about the kinds of thinking that will make those breakthroughs possible. “Imagination is Better than Knowledge” (page 32) applies some insights by foremost management guru Peter Drucker, and ideas for using newest networking technologies, to the shaping of the future of your industry and, maybe, your business.

Both major thrusts of the article emphasize the reality that things change. Ironically, the more successful you are now, the more you can be hurt by changes in the real world. Of course, if you are not trapped by your success and can think the unthinkable, you just might come out on top of the next wave. The problem with such changes to the business planner is that they come slowly and do not wear flashing neon signs that say “opportunity.”

The aging of our markets is one of those changes that we have seen coming and have written about year after year in the magazine. Thousands of fitness facility owners and managers have attended seminars on the aging market, and I expect hundreds have read books like Ken Dychtwald’s Age Wave. There have been some good programs set up for the older market, yet no real breakthrough is evident in the industry.

Some of us are experiencing this age wave up close, and keeping some good humor about it. I’m trying, anyway. Just a month after the magazine enters its second decade, I enter my seventh, and am gaining new powers. I can tilt the earth and affect the weather! When I step on the high school running track the earth tilts so that I run uphill; I know this happens, because when I try the opposite direction it is also uphill. I go running in the morning under the cool marine cloud layer, but I notice that the sun goes to work quickly as soon as I start to run. I didn’t use to notice that so much.

Maybe not taking everything too seriously is one of the keys to the older market. In that spirit, Craig Clifford and Joe Priest were thoughtful enough to share their “Reflections on the Coincidence of Optimal Warm-Up and Performance-Inhibiting Fatigue” with Fitness Management readers.

I’m glad it was not snapped up first by the Journal of Irreproducible Results.

Enjoy, and imagine! The next 10 years should be our best.