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Time for a Breath of Fresh Air

One last thought about spring fever. Spring is the time for sunshine, longer days, bunnies and flowers. Most of us take pleasure in the natural light, the warmer temperatures (especially after this year's harsh winter in the Midwest and on the East Coast), and the blooming trees and flowers.

However, many of us in the industry dread at least a little bit March 21, the official first day of spring. Spring is when our members start playing tennis and going for long walks — and stop coming in to the club.

You can remedy this by opening your windows and making sure your programming is top notch to lure even the most devoted spring worshippers. But another, possibly more pressing issue may exist — how the new season affects you and your staff.

I see it every year. First, the group exercise instructors and personal trainers start showing up late, blaming traffic and mysteriously suffering from car trouble (car trouble that doesn't stop them from going out later that night, however). Next, the entire front desk staff comes down with a cold, and each individual takes a sick day, or two, or three (although none of them exhibit any sickness symptoms, and you see a group of them playing a basketball pickup game across town). Finally, your managers (the “responsible” ones) suddenly begin disappearing for extra long lunches and super short work days, hoping that you won't notice.

What is going on with everyone? You wonder.

You, undoubtedly busier than ever looking for subs and possibly even an entire new staff, have hardly noticed the start to spring. In fact, your workweek has a much closer resemblance to Bill Murray's reliving of the same day over and over again in the movie Groundhog Day than this year's Feb. 2 holiday, when Punxsutawney Phil predicated an early spring for the first time in eight years.

But, maybe it's time for you to follow the lead of your staff and catch what's been going around.

Yes, I know what you're thinking. The club can't run itself. But, with fewer members and clients coming through your doors, it is possible to lighten your load a bit and seek some outside inspiration.

When you are caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle, it's hard to get perspective. It's difficult to truly see your facility for its pros and cons. It's hard to know what an outside person sees when coming in for the first time.

That's why I'm advocating taking a spring break to do some spring training. And while your usual fitness training involves either studying, reading and attending a classroom, or a treadmill, weights and a mat, I say throw caution to the daffodil-scented wind and take a break from the club and fitness. Go on a trip, visit some friends or even just vow to stay away from the club for a long weekend (after, of course, reprimanding your staff for their negligent behavior and making them swear on their life that they'll be in on time). The time away will bring a fresh perspective to your facility and allow you to get that spring back in your step, as well as clear your head. (How many times have you had your best ideas come to you while on the golf course or during that sunrise run rather than at your desk?)

Succumb to the lure of the great outdoors. It's worth springing for.

Do you have a funny story about your club or member experience? If so, e-mail Jennipher Shaver at by March 31 with your best One Last Thought. The Club Industry's Fitness Business Pro staff will pick the top five stories, feature them online and send Exerflex Flooring T-shirts to the winners.

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