The Lessons in Fitness Leadership series highlights IHRSA’s industry leaders and thanks them for their continued commitment to growing, promoting, and protecting the health club industry. By sharing their business expertise, we hope that you will get to know them, what they've learned along the way, and how they view leadership.
Dedham Health & Athletic Complex
What is the most fulfilling part of being a business leader in the fitness industry?
Being successful in business is fulfilling. We are successful in the financial part of the health club business and we are successful in delivering medical wellness and physical therapy. This success allows us to benchmark our successes, and these benchmarks enable us to be leaders in the industry around how we deliver services.
We started out as a tennis club. Then in the late ‘70s interest rates went to 19% and inflation was at 12 %. As more women left their homes to join the workforce, we lost a good percentage of our membership base. That became our challenge. We took that challenge and morphed our business. We evolved from a tennis facility, to a full service facility, to a medically integrated facility—thus creating an opportunity to succeed. Challenges open new doors and lead us in new directions.
If you were able to go back in time, what is one piece of leadership advice you would have given your younger-self about working in the fitness industry?
If you analyze the adult population of the USA, only 15% wants what we sell, “exercise.”
Another 15% use the product “exercise” without buying from us. That leaves 70% available to buy our product and they need our product. So my advice is to create a compelling story to show that 70% that you have what they need. And then deliver exercise in a way that satisfies them.
The book Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborge talks about two different strategies, “Red Ocean” versus “Blue Ocean.” Red Ocean delivers a commodity that is in demand, Blue Ocean is creating a temporary monopoly. So you want to create a Blue Ocean product that gives you a temporary monopoly. Red Ocean has sharks, Blue Ocean does not.
What prompted you to join the Industry Leadership Council (ILC)?
Everyone who is in our industry should be involved in the Industry Leadership Council. If you are not, in my opinion, you are part of the problem. We joined the ILC because we truly believe this group can make our industry better today than it was yesterday.
Our industry has a potential to grow 450% (from 15% to 70%) and IHRSA’s efforts will help get us there, but it will take the support of the ILC.