The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association is the fitness industry's only global trade association representing over 10,000 for profit health and fitness facilities and over 600 supplier companies in 75 countries.



From educational tools and events to promotional programs and public policy initiatives, IHRSA brings you success... by association!

Join | Renew
Pledge Your Support

Search IHRSA Blog
« IHRSA European Congress Only 5 Weeks Away! | Main | IHRSA Associates in EUROPE »

Innovation: Word or Fact?

I recently heard that, today, “innovation” is one of the most overused words. Really? Frankly, I think that our industry needs true innovation to engage people in exercise and foster positive behavior change—now more than ever!

To better understand the current “state of innovation,” I consulted Fast Company, one of my favorite magazines, which frequently spotlights organizations and individuals that dare to innovate in an intentional, strategically profitable way.

Conveniently, my research led me to several examples that I’m quite familiar with.

Earlier this year, Fast Company published a list of “The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 in Fitness.” Among them were Polar Electro, Inc., Beachbody, Equinox, and EXOS, the corporate parent of MediFit, the firm I work for.

Why were we selected? The magazine said it was “for improving the entire health and fitness industry. EXOS continues to find new ways to help everyone become healthier.” MediFit does so, in part, by utilizing a multidisciplinary approach to help people achieve their health and fitness goals—one that encompasses mindset, physical activity, nutrition, and recovery.

Because human beings are complex, multifaceted, and multilayered creatures, we incorporate our understanding of those traits in all that we do.

Looking elsewhere, we find examples such as Airbnb and Uber, innovative organizations that have thoroughly disrupted the hotel and taxi industries, respectively. How did they do so? By identifying real, unmet needs—gaps in the ever-lengthening spectrum of consumer expectations. And, then, by giving customers direct control, using networked platforms, incorporating dynamic pricing, and changing the way service is delivered.

What does all of this have to do with you and your business?

Consider this: Do you say, think, and believe that yours is a truly transformative organization? Or do you simply overuse the word innovation? Is your team structurally aligned to create and implement great new ideas? Are there systems in place to track the actions you take and to assess the results you achieve?

We, as club operators, are faced with an endless series of challenges, both perennial and newborn, having to do with issues such as member and staff acquisition/retention, emerging trends, evolving technology, and “disruptive” new forms of competition.

How can we deal with them efficiently, effectively, successfully?

Likely not by utilizing the same approach we’ve relied on for the past two-and-a-half decades.

It’s time to ask candid questions, tough questions, never-before-thought-of questions.

Only then will we realize true, redemptive innovation.

Reader Comments (1)

I loved your article. To me, innovation means"evolve". As you pointed out, if your company doesn't evolve, you will be left behind.
I am intimately involved with innovation. I own the patent on the very first elliptical that Precor introduced over 20 years ago. I also own the patent on the ElliptiGo. Another Fast Company winner.
My recent experience is that many companies use the word "innovation" in their advertising but really don't have a clue to what it means. Independent inventors like myself rely on companies truly looking for inventions that can be brought to market. Unfortunately I have found that even the larger companies use the word "innovation" but but don't mean it.
December 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLarry Miller

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.