Does Your Management Style Inspire Others in Your Health Club?

Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting and turnaround firm specializing in the fitness and health club industry. With over 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars and workshops across the country on the practical skills required to successfully build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. Visit his Web site at:

In working with many different types of clubs across the country, I’ve seen varying styles of how to inspire others in your health club. Some are very demanding, while others ignore everyone and hope things will improve.

How about you? Have you been a bit too comfortable with things in your club? A little success apathy, perhaps?

Uninspiring health club managers often need to get back on course and pick things up a notch or two. Big changes may not be necessary; just ridding yourself of the success apathy that may have snuck in and regaining your focus may be all you need.

In my work, I see managers all the time who openly reject the idea that they need to inspire anyone else. We have one simple answer for those folks—if you don’t really believe you ought to inspire other people to do their best work in your club, you should not be a manager.

The reality is that this is a key function of any health club manager. It’s not just something nice to do. It’s a requirement for the long-term success of your club. Inspiring club staff is a requirement because managers are responsible for maximizing performance and staff retention. Uninspired health club employees don’t do their best work either. As a manager, you want to create an environment that allows a motivated person to act.

Here are 13 simple management tips that will help you to inspire other people:

1. Have courage. When health club managers demonstrate courage, it inspires others to do the same, and they will respect you all the more.

2. Do the right thing. You’re not looking for their friendship as much as their respect.

3. Take a stand. Let your staff know what you think and why.

4. Be open. The most inspiring club managers have a strong vision for how things ought to be.

5. Say no to in-club politics. Most people grow really tired of day-to-day club politics. Many of your people on staff would gladly follow and respect a manager who rejected the muddy waters—even if they did not agree with you all the time. Rise above it.

6. Listen more, speak less. You’ve heard this one before, but it’s true. Show your club staff that you value their input. This applies to your direct reports, members and peers.

7.Show them your respect. The best way to do this is to ask questions. Ask for their opinion.

8. Commit to beat your goals and don’t rest until you do. Club managers who are content with mediocre performance (even if they can make the case that it’s not their fault) are uninspiring to be around. People want to work for successful managers. It’s about results, not excuses.

9. Have empathy and spend time in their shoes. In fact, swap places with your staff every now and then. Show them you want to understand what their health club world looks and feels like. You will learn a lot, and so will they.

10. Don’t flaunt success. Yes, you earned the promotion to manager, but don’t flaunt your success; it will separate you from your team. Think about how you felt when you were in their position. Try to spread the wealth on great personal and professional experiences like health club conferences and conventions, specialized training programs, certifications and other opportunities.

11. Represent your staff’s needs to ownership and with your peers. Take the initiative to make things better for your staff. Your staff should know that they can count on you. This will speak volumes about your intention to serve your staff.

12. Be the best expression of your own unique style. We are all different, so don’t turn into a health club clone. Be the classiest version of you possible.

13. Decide to be inspired by others. Share your role models and why they inspire you. Sharing your own personal stories of inspiration will inspire others.

Ready. Set. Go inspire your staff!

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