Rather than getting caught in the trap of focusing on too many things be innovative by narrowing your focus to the best ideas Photo by Thinkstock

Rather than getting caught in the trap of focusing on too many things, be innovative by narrowing your focus to the best ideas. (Photo by Thinkstock.)

Redefine Your Health Club by Editing the Clutter

The key to innovation at your health club is to edit and simplify. Say 'yes' to what works and 'no' to what doesn't. Focus on the best ideas and help to simplify your members' club experience.

When Mark Parker took over as CEO of Nike in 2006, he received a call from Steve Jobs to congratulate him and offer him some advice. Jobs told him, "Nike makes some of the best products in the world. Products you lust after. Products that are beautiful and stunning. . . .but you also make a lot of crap."

Parker waited for a laugh, but there wasn't one. Only silence.

Jobs followed up the pause with: "Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff."

Parker said that Jobs was absolutely right, and soon made it his priority as CEO to edit.

Nike is an idea factory. It has so many ideas that Parker had to 'edit' when it came to making business decisions. In Parkers' mind, to 'edit' meant to focus. And we're not talking about focusing on saying 'yes' to everything.

Editing (focusing) means to say 'no' to the hundred other good ideas and saying 'yes' to the best.

And that is the key to innovation at your facility as well: saying 'no' to thousands of ideas (new programs, pieces of new or old equipment, incentives, classes, etc.) and narrowing your focus to the best ideas.

The people our facilities serve demand simplicity because they are confused. As an industry, we spent years trying to make living a fit and healthy life seem more complex. We built bigger and better mouse traps, making people jump through contract hoops to leave our facilities. We neglected helping them master the basics (managing stress by sleeping more, eating cleaner, training less) before throwing passing fads into the weekly mix.

Simplicity requires you to edit anything that clutters your gym-goers' experience.

At your next team meeting, have your team walk around your facility and answer these questions:

  1. If an outside company bought our facility today and made changes immediately to edit clutter, where's the first place they would start? Why? And why haven't we done the same?
  2. What clutter have we fallen in love with that's no longer as effective as it used to be?
  3. Where and what can we edit in our front entrance, training floor, group exercise rooms, locker rooms, parking lots, wall space, bulletin boards, healthy cafe, etc.?
  4. If we could remove three pieces of equipment to declutter and open more space to make a visually more appealing and more inviting facility, what would they be? Why?

These questions are meant to provoke you, irritate you and force you to address things that would be easier to just ignore. You might be dissatisfied with your answers, but dissatisfaction is merely a symptom of ambition. And ambition takes the courage to be vulnerable enough to change (edit).

Do these things to get started:

  • Admit there's a better way than the outdated vision we might be married to.
  • Freshen up your facility by taking things away and letting light in.
  • Explore rearranging your current layout by asking "What. . .?"
  • Host a quarterly cleaning event to edit, purge and donate.

To redefine the business of fitness, we simply need to say 'no' more often than 'yes.' It will reduce your stress, your teams and, most importantly, the community you serve. Let me know if you agree by sharing your thoughts in the comment section below.

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