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Do You Really Want to Help?

Last week, I spoke to a New York Times reporter for a story she was writing about how clubs are doing more hand-holding of their clients to help retain them (assigning them a workout buddy or a cheerleader, calling them if they miss a workout). When she asked why clubs would do this, I said that the majority of club owners and staff want to help people and they know that providing more personalized attention could be the key to making a member feel comfortable and, therefore, retaining them so they meet their fitness goals. She said in a surprised voice, “Do club owners really want to help people? Really?”

I was a bit taken back by the question. I guess it goes to show that although the industry has become more professional, many people in the general public (and in the skeptical press) still think that most clubs exist to simply take the public's money and run. Granted, making money is an important part of operating any business, including a fitness facility, but no one would put in the long hours and hard work required to keep a fitness facility going if they also didn‘t get the non-monetary reward of seeing how they are helping people live healthier lives. More than one club owner and general manager have told me that all their hard work is worth it when they are approached by a member who tells them what a difference the club has made in their health or in the health of a loved one. It‘s too bad more people don‘t see this side of the industry. -Pam

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