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Friday
May142010

Dare to Be 100

By Mia Coen 

Some people can’t imagine what it would be like to live to 100. Some people can’t even imagine 80! But how about running your 40th marathon at the age of 80?

It was no sweat for Dr. Walter Bortz, a clinical associate professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. Recognized as one of America’s most distinguished scientific experts on aging and longevity, he’s living proof that the benefits of exercise extend beyond the point in life when we think we’re “over the hill.”

After completing the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon on April 19th, he said, “I wanted to show what an organism can do this late in life.” He indeed showed, if not proved, that it can be done. Dr. Bortz has been running for 40 years, since the death of his father. Running has become a sort of therapy for him, and he’s been participating in marathons ever since.

It took him eight hours to complete the trek across the Boston ’burbs and into the city. Hundreds gathered at sunset to see the last of the runners cross the finish line on Boylston Street.

Dr. Bortz reminisced about his first days of running in his essay, Running, Aging, and Human Potential.The Boston Marathon, then the only world-class running event open to the running-around slug, appealed to my Walter Mitty personality. So I entered and finished my first marathon in 1971 in 5 hours and 5 minutes, as I recall.” Not bad, for a then-40-year-old doctor, who’s now double the age that he was.  

It’s physically evident that Dr. Bortz practices what he preaches. His career and research are focused on “physical exercise in the promotion of robust aging.” He is the former co-chairman of the American Medical Association’s Task Force on Aging, former president of The American Geriatric Society, and current chairman of the Medical Advisory Board for the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation, as well as a senior advisor to Healthy Silicon Valley, a community collaborative effort that addresses the soaring incidence of obesity and diabetes.

Dr. Bortz has published over 130 medical articles and authored numerous books, including We Live Too Short and Die Too Long, Dare to Be 100, Living Longer for Dummies, and Diabetes Danger.

All this—and he still has the time and energy to train for marathons. Inspiring all of us to dare to be 100, Dr. Bortz’s story is certainly moving us here at CBI.

Wednesday
May122010

Anchored by Anka

By Patricia Amend

No matter who we are, what we do, or what we know, we can all benefit from having others care enough to gently challenge us now and then…

One evening about a month ago, I darted into my local Boston Sports Club in downtown Boston, shortly after 9 p.m. I wanted to squeeze in 45 minutes of speed walking, jogging, and sprinting intervals on the treadmill, and do a little stretching, before the club closed at 10.  I had been rushed all day, and I didn’t even take time to take my coat and workout bag to the locker room downstairs. Instead, I dropped those items on a chair that sits in front of a long table near the door, a common practice for many members whenever they “pop in.”

But something changed my hurried mindset at the front desk.

It was a white board, on which someone had scrawled, “What Does Fitness Mean to You?” I stopped and read the possibilities, then went on to check in. “I’m so glad that you asked this question,” I told the pleasant young woman as I passed her my keychain. “I know that fitness can mean something different to people at different times in their lives. Or even on different days.”

“I just love fitness and I love to get people to think about it,” she said. She looked right at me and I could tell she wasn’t just being social; she meant it. I asked her name. It’s Anka, and she’s a personal trainer at the club.

What Anka did was get me to stop, have a conversation, and think about why I was there. It was a “member opportunity,” and Anka seized upon it.

Since then, I’ve been noticing the attention she seems to give everyone she sees. Anka also takes the time to photocopy articles of interest and put them on the front table, and writes “Anka’s Tip of the Day” on the white board. I’m certain that she does similar things that I know nothing about; it seems to be part of who she is.

All of the front desk people at this club are also notoriously kind and friendly. I always get a big smile and an acknowledgement when I check in, and a nice send-off when I leave. The manager, Krystyna, greets me pleasantly, every time I see her in the club. She did the same today, when I saw her on the street.

However, that encounter with Anka made a lasting impression. Now, whenever I walk through the door, I recall that conversation and it helps me be more “in the moment,” and focus on what I’m doing and why. As a result, I get more out of every workout.

The irony is that I have written dozens of articles and several books on fitness, what it means, and how to get the most of from it. Yet, she got me to listen.

Thanks, Anka! And thanks to everyone at my club. You all make a difference. Your passion compels you to do what you do so well.

Monday
May102010

Geographic Demographics

Rick Caro discusses demographic research based on geography:

Q: “I have the demographics for a small town where I want to open a 3000 sq ft (275 sq m) fitness facility. There is lots of information on how to get demographics but I need to know how to intrepret them. What percentage of the population or a specific demographic should I use as a reasonable estimate for the number of members? ”

A: There is an accepted methodology to determine if a potential site for a club is deemed to be feasible based on a specific concept. It involves a proper market analysis using the old accepted economic law of supply versus demand.

Without doing the analysis properly, one can ony take a wild guess.

The definition of a market is not 4 or 5 or 6 miles (6.5, 8, or 9.5 km). It involves drive-times in each of the 8 directions (N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW) at prime-time in the evenings. One goes in each direction for 8 minutes (including waiting for stop lgihts, busy traffic, etc.) to define the Primary market and another 4 minutes (up to a 12-minute mark) to detemine the Secondary Market. These intersection points are then connected and these represent the real boundaries of a Residential Market. The local Daytime Workingplace market is studied.

These intersection points are sent to a computerized demographic service, 2010 data is received and applicable club penetration rates are applied. This creates the demand side.

Then, all fitness facilities -- using the widest definition -- which are in the Primary and Secondary Markets are identified. These include all forms of commercial clubs, specialty studios (yoga, Pilates, personal training), YMCAs/JCCs, parks and rec facilities, university fitness centers, etc. Each is visited by an industry expert and analyzed for its strengths and weaknesses along with gathering a deep resevoir of information. Then, follow-up research is done to determine its membership base.

A comparison of supply versus demand is then undertaken to detemine if it is a "Go" or "No Go" at the intended site.

Without doing the analysis properly, one can ony take a wild guess. After completing over 850 independent market analyses, my early guess is that the market is insufficient to support any successful club there. But the only way to know is to do the proper market analysis.

Rick Caro, President
Management Vision, Inc.
mgmtvision@gmail.com

Monday
May102010

Bruce's Locker Room Basics

By Craig R. Waters

Recently, as he was conducting research for an article on club locker rooms for the July issue of CBI, Contributing Editor Jon Feld spoke with Bruce Carter, the president of Optimal Design, an industry consulting firm based in Weston, Florida. 

Bruce has been involved in the fitness industry for 43 years, and, for the past 28, his company has been assisting a wide range of customers, including commercial clubs, community centers, spas, hotels, resorts, corporate fitness facilities, and residential complexes. Optimal Design has helped bring more than 150 clubs on line, and its lengthy client list reads like a Who’s Who of the industry.

(Go to www.optimaldsi.com to see some of the firm’s amazing work, and be sure to check out the impressive “before” and “after” shots.)

Jon was writing about a new, emerging movement in which architects, designers, and club operators are working together to create “homier” locker rooms.

He also spoke to Rudy Fabiano, the founder of Fabiano Designs, another leading industry design firm, who told him, “ ‘Home’ is the big trend right now. Creating a homier atmosphere, in terms of tile, carpets, vanities, lighting fixtures, etc., enhances the appeal, satisfaction, and sophistication of this critical space. The club that succeeds in making its members ‘feel at home’ there has a distinct competitive advantage.”

(Go to www.fabianodesigns.com to see a stunning portfolio of Rudy’s projects, as well as one of the most aesthetically successful Websites around.)

Bruce told Jon that, when planning to build a new—or renovate an old—locker room, there are certain critical considerations that should be addressed. His “locker room basics” are listed below.

• Space: Simply put, space is critical, regardless of your locker room’s size. The spaces between lockers need to be large enough so that members aren’t bumping into each other when changing or when moving into different areas. If possible, especially for your female members, include separate changing areas.

Flow: If, for example, a member goes into a locker room to use a toilet and wash their hands, they shouldn’t have to walk through a shower area to do it.

Sound and sight: Insulation, especially when a locker room is next to a noisier area, is important. “And something as basic as not being able to see into the locker room from the outside is sometimes overlooked,” he notes.

Ambiance: Touches like vessel sinks, granite countertops, wall sconces or pendants, soft lighting (with brighter lighting in mirrored areas), additional vanities, tile on walls, and glass mosaic accents all add to the homey feel.

Color: Think soft, warm earth tones.

• Lounge areas: “These spaces help produce more relaxing and inviting locker room areas,” says Bruce. “Remember that people prefer to sit on individual chairs, as opposed to couches.”  

Friday
May072010

A Mother’s Day Salute

By Jennifer H. McInerney

With Mother’s Day only a couple of days away, what better time to recognize the contributions of all the mothers who work in our industry?

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of daily operations, to focus on profit margins and member retention, and temporarily forget that so many women have another important job at home: raising their children.

The number of mothers I’ve interviewed over the years who have successful careers in the fitness industry is off the charts! Whether they started their own business or advanced through the executive ranks of a global company, whether they have one child or nine—each time, I’ve been amazed at their ability to balance child-rearing with professional aspirations.

Fortunately, the fitness industry offers many flexible opportunities for mothers at every stage of their career—for brand-new moms as well as mothers returning to the workforce after a hiatus.

So, take a look around at all the mothers working in your club or office: your front desk receptionist, your aerobics instructor, your personal trainers, your fitness director, your general manager, your marketing director, your CFO, your CEO. This weekend, be sure to wish them all a Happy Mother’s Day!

Wednesday
May052010

Moving Through Menopause

By Mia Coen

Hello, CBI readers and wellness enthusiasts!

I’ve got one for all the ladies out there. I just had a very informative interview with Dr. Tara Allmen, M.D., one of America’s leading experts in menopause. It’s surprising how taboo the concept of menopause is in the fitness industry, but women battle it every day—and, it turns out, exercise and a healthy diet can improve overall mind/body wellness.

Check it out:

How does menopause affect women’s bodies?

There are two stages of menopause: Perimenopause (which affects women in their 40s) and menopause (50-plus). Perimenopausal women are still having their periods, but their hormonal output is erratic, which brings about such symptoms as low energy, sleep disruption, hot flashes, sweats, mood changes, depression, anxiety, weight gain, etc.

Menopause is when women no longer produce estrogen and they’ve had their final period. This can present a host of additional issues to be concerned with: sexual dysfunction, reduced libido, reduced bone density, and other chronic health issues that present themselves at this time, such as heart disease, diabetes, etc.

In what ways can fitness improve the lives of women suffering from these symptoms?

Exercise will improve overall health, including overall sense of well-being, mood, and sleep, which are all affected by menopause. Exercise and a healthy diet become critical during this transition for women.

Are there any particular exercises that women would benefit from at the perimenopause or menopause stage?

Yes, there are: cardio and weight training. Typically, women do strength-training less, especially at this stage, but it becomes so important to increase weight training because it will build muscle; it will help burn more calories and boost metabolism; and it will help with the inevitable weight gain that occurs at this time because metabolism is slowing. A strength-training regimen can combat muscle and bone-density loss, but it’s also good to keep up with the cardio, at least a few days a week. A group fitness class is a great way to stay motivated because women can join together, reap the benefits together, and they have that extra sense of support.

Dr. Tara Allmen’s DVD, “Menopause in an Hour,” is an informational 60-minute video about what to expect with menopause, which comes with an easy-to-read guide. She also released “What’s Up With You Know Who?” a video for friends and family members of women suffering from menopause symptoms; it provides tips about how to be helpful and supportive. 

Monday
May032010

Pay Structure For Trainers

Brent Darden and Ryan Vogt discuss the pay structure for personal trainers:

Q: “Do you pay personal trainers an hourly rate for floor time? Is floor time scheduled in advance and part of their required job duties or are personal trainers allowed to come and go as they please?”

A: Yes, like almost all clubs I have talked to, we pay personal trainers for floor shifts. For this aspect of their responsibilities we pay them $10.00 per hour, which is commensurate with others in the industry. The floor time is scheduled at least one month in advance so that they can schedule personal training sessions around these hours. Typically, these floor hours are consistent from month to month so that trainers can plan accordingly and have a regular routine. Newly hired Trainers may work 15-20 hours per week on the fitness floor until they complete educational requirements and build their clientele. As the Personal Trainers become more senior and begin to maintain a full client load, we reduce the number of floor hours required of them down to a minimum of 3 one hour floor shifts per week. Even though our trainers charge $85 to $250 per hour for a training session, they all earn $10.00 per hour for this duty.

This responsibility and any others are covered in the position description they sign prior to being hired. They are allowed to set their own schedule to a large degree, but they must be present for the specified floor shifts.

Brent Darden, General Manager/Owner
TELOS Fitness Center
bdarden@telosfitnesscenter.com
www.telosfitnesscenter.com

A: All of our personal trainers are paid an hourly rate for their floor time. The majority of our personal trainers are full-time, working a minimum of 32-hours per week. Our facility offers an initial consultation to each new member upon their joining. We pay our trainers their floor rate for their consultations. This rate is usually $10-13 per hour.

The trainers receive 1-hour of floor time/administrative time per 8-hours worked. We do not set specific times for them to use these hours. The requirement is that they document what they did during this time for example: phone calls, emails or intentionally working the floor. Intentionally simply means that they are working the floor with a purpose. This task may include such things as meeting 5 new members, inviting 10 women to attend the upcoming women’s workshop, leading a 10-minute core conditioning segment, or updating the fitness incentive/ client success boards.

Our personal trainers are not allowed to come and go as they please. Each trainer has a specific shift that they are required to work. If their schedule does not warrant the use of more floor time hours then they simply clock out. If a trainer would like to use more floor time then allotted for them, they clear this with their fitness director.

Many clubs choose to use their trainer to walk the floor and be available to answer questions. We have found that this leads to a staggering payroll number. Our club has developed a great floor staff team that works for a lower hourly rate then a trainer and frees up time for the trainers to grow their clientele.

Ryan Vogt, Fitness Director
Tri-City Court Club
ryan@tricitycourtclub.com
www.tricitycourtclub.com

Monday
May032010

Jane Fonda’s Latest Workout

 Did you hear? 1980s aerobics icon Jane Fonda launched the first-ever World Fitness Day this past weekend. Thousands of fitness enthusiasts, along with fitness celebrities Richard Simmons, Denise Austin, and Billy Blanks, joined her for the inaugural event in Atlanta.

 

Friday
Apr302010

The Birthday Gift That Keeps On Giving

By Jennifer H. McInerney

As much as I hate to admit it, I have a birthday lurking just around the corner. The older I get, the more I’m bothered by these pesky annual reminders that—despite our best efforts—there’s just no way to stop or reverse the advancement of age.

It’s kind of like the weather: you just have to deal with it. But if it’s going to rain, it’d be nice to know ahead of time so you can bring along an umbrella.

Similarly, my concern is not so much aging, as it is aging well.

For example: My paternal grandparents, who passed away within the last few years, were fit, healthy, and vibrant until their final days. They lived well into their mid-90s. I’m not exaggerating when I say that my grandfather, who was 88 at my wedding, literally swung me around the dance floor! That’s the kind of vitality I’m aiming for.

So far, I think I’m on the right track. I maintain a fitness regimen consisting of cardio, strength-training, and yoga, and a healthy diet that includes only a small daily allowance of chocolate.

But I’ve always wondered: is that enough? Is there something more I could be doing to follow in my grandparents’ healthy footsteps? As far as I’m concerned, it’s never too early to invest in one’s long-term quality of life.

You can imagine my excitement when, a few months ago, I had the opportunity to investigate the topic of “Active Aging” and interview several key authorities and baby boomer role models.

Among them was Nicholas A. DiNubile, M.D., a.k.a. “Dr. Nick,” a renowned orthopedic surgeon based in Havertown, Pennsylvania. At age 57, he’s a baby boomer himself and is credited with coining the term “Boomeritis” to encompass the inevitable wear-and-tear of our bodies’ musculature and joints over time. He’s also the author of FrameWork: Your 7-Step Program for Healthy Muscles, Bones, and Joints.

Now, even though I fall into Generation X, I listened very carefully to everything Dr. Nick had to say about what happens to our “aging frames” as we get older, and how we can live younger than we (chronologically) are. Actually, I felt like I had a front-row seat at a VIP screening of a special sneak preview of What Happens Next.

What I came away with was this: aging well is not just about keeping up with a workout routine, consuming nutritious foods, and getting plenty of sleep. It’s about prevention, and building a strong foundation on which to grow to a thriving 100 years old. Dr. Nick recommends a balanced, comprehensive strength-training regimen that includes all of the muscles and tendons that surround and support our joints (knees, shoulders, hips, etc.) to prevent overuse, repetitive strain, and the formation of “weak links.” He suggests consulting a trainer to develop a workout that’s equal parts strength-training, flexibility, cardiovascular, and core work. And, as we age, we may have to readjust and modify our workouts to prevent minor strains and major damage—after all, a 50-year-old’s frame is not the same as a 20-year-old’s.

The more attention we pay to our bodies, and the sooner we address those niggling aches and pains before they escalate into sidelining injuries—the happier each birthday will be.

To read the original CBI feature, “Rx for Boomeritis: How to help baby boomers walk the fine line between exercise and injury,” click here.

Wednesday
Apr282010

Operation Beautiful: Sticking It to ‘Fat-Talk’

By Patricia Glynn

What if I told you that a Post-it note, the colorful stick-it-anywhere-you-like square, could potentially boost retention? Or what if I suggested that the ubiquitous office essential could possibly even help transform our industry?

It might seem a bit preposterous. You may even believe I’ve gone mad. But as Caitlin Boyle, a health blogger, fitness enthusiast, and soon-to-be-published author, discovered on an ordinary day back in June of 2009, a small piece of paper can indeed be a revolutionary tool capable of exacting a dramatic shift. After all, as she explained to me from her home in Orlando, Florida, “simple ideas can often be the best ideas.”

It was last summer when Caitlin, weary and downbeat after an especially arduous afternoon, hoped she might, with a sticky note, at least brighten someone else’s day. Upon the small pad she scribbled, with a Sharpie marker, just three words: “You are beautiful.” She stuck it squarely to a mirror in a public rest room, never imaging that what she’d done would spark a worldwide revolution that has become, officially, Operation Beautiful.

After posting that first brief but encouraging note, she shared the details of the deed on her blog. Reader response was overwhelming, and she sensed an opportunity to elicit change. It became her mission to fight fat-talk (the insidious habit of harshly critiquing one’s appearance).

Within days, followers of her site, with her prodding, began plastering cities around the globe with heartening affirmations like “You are amazing,” and “You are good enough exactly the way you are.” It caught on like “wildfire,” she acknowledges. Individuals from California to Germany, from Sweden to Japan, from New York to Iraq, from Australia to Guam, were working, under her guidance, to reduce, if not wholly eradicate, negative self-talk. Eventually, Caitlin felt compelled to introduce a new site. It serves as a place to highlight the stories of those who leave notes for others to find, as well as to chronicle the often emotional reactions of those who happen upon what she terms “a much-needed dose of kindness.” Currently, she reports, the site receives over 100,000 hits per month.

Now, perhaps more than ever, cues aimed at upping one’s self-worth are a necessity, Caitlin says. “A lot of women and men are struggling. They’re having a difficult time accepting themselves just as they are. I’ve felt that. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t in a good place. Unfortunately, a lot of people are dealing with those emotions.” And media and advertisers, while not solely responsible for the situation, aren’t helping. In fact, she says, they’re frequently making the issue markedly worse. “Like so many others, I’ve compared myself to images of models and actors. I’ve compared myself to a strict, thin ideal that’s totally at odds with what I really look like—with what most of us look like. It’s something we can’t match. And really, what we don’t often recognize is that, in truth, what we’re seeing doesn’t even exist. It’s all generated by a computer. It’s a photo-shopped reality and so it’s not even achievable.”

But could a simple Post-it note with a few cheery words scrawled upon its surface really alter a person’s internal dialogue? Could it truly thwart self-flagellation? And what of my original query: how might this idea play out in the context of a health club?

As a fitness professional, I’m sure you know that a judgmental, disconsolate attitude can rapidly deflate motivation. Mentally berating yourself prior to, or during, a workout is a surefire way to deplete your energy and sap your strength. Exercise, under such circumstances, quickly morphs into a chore you’d rather forgo. The phenomenon has actually been scientifically verified: researchers from the University of Kansas confirmed, last year, at the annual Society of Behavioral Medicine meeting, that a negative self-image and disapproving self-talk will actually deter individuals from adhering to a workout regimen.

But the gym, Caitlin attests, is an ideal environment in which to combat poor self-esteem and fat-talk. Members are typically hyper-focused on their appearance and, more often than not, their awareness tends toward the negative. “The locker room especially is a tough spot; it’s where you can’t help but look at the people around you and compare yourself,” Caitlin laments.

Back when superficial thoughts overwhelmed her, back when fitness was about getting skinnier and fitting into a teeny bikini, she was, she confesses, a “chronic gym quitter.” Today, however, she’s an avid, fully committed exercise devotee. (Actually, in the two days following our conversation, she was scheduled to run five miles and bike 61). Thankfully, she explains, she recognized the folly of her former ways and began to value herself regardless of her looks. (And, by the way, she’s very fit and very pretty.) Her well-being and her internal happiness are, nowadays, way more important than the size of her thighs.

That attitude adjustment is one she’s eager to share and she believes gyms are especially well-suited for promoting a project like Operation Beautiful. “When I see clubs promote fitness as a life-long commitment, as a tool for attaining good overall health, rather than as simply a means to a hotter body—I know they’re the ones who are nailing it. That’s a place I want to be a part of. Operation Beautiful emphasizes being strong, fit, and healthy for reasons beyond appearance. It’s about accepting yourself exactly as you are in this moment.”

Caitlin has, in fact, seen an approach similar to her own work with great success: “One gym, for example, hung a bulletin board and invited everyone who passed to share a thoughtful note. Members encouraged one another. I love that! The positive words, such as ‘You did a great job today’ or ‘You did a great thing for your health,’ reinforce healthful behavior, and they make people want to do more of the same. People begin to feel better internally and they feel good about what they’re doing for themselves. When gyms encourage a more holistic approach, it keeps people coming back. People love that. They know the gym really cares about them more as a person than a number. A project like this, something promoting self-acceptance, surely benefits clubs and members alike.”

Caitlin’s made it her goal to post as many uplifting notes as possible. Some, she admits, may have no effect. Others may simply bring a smile to a passerby’s face. Yet, there’s always the possibility that one short message could make a long-lasting difference. In any case, her random, thoughtful acts of positivity are, undoubtedly, making the world a much more beautiful place.