Life Fitness Academy takes new route in its journey
Wed, November 14, 2012 at 15:43
Brad Spiegel in Africa, Life Fitness, News, Programs, Retention, life fitness academy

LFA trainer Keith Smith present on cardio training techniques on a roofop in Ethiopia. If you know anything about Life Fitness then you are well aware that it believes in the “journey” – how did you get to where you are and how can the company help get you to where you want to be? 

When equipment is purchased from the Illinois-based company, with it comes the support of Life Fitness Academy – a global raining and education sector of the company that provides educational materials for customers, fitness professionals and exercisers worldwide. 

Sometimes that wing flies to far corners of the world like its recent four-country, nine-day trip to Africa. If that sounds like a pretty daunting undertaking, it was. The LFA team has ventured to Africa before, but this was the first time it decided to take on four countries in one undertaking. 

“Personally, for me and (Life Fitness Academy trainer) Keith (Smith) there was apprehension and nervousness. This was a different kind of academy,” said Nick Mennell, Education Solutions manager, who described the trip as both “brutal” and “brilliant” in the same breath. “This trip was more about the clients. It was a much different approach to what we’ve offered before – the curriculum was aligned with our ‘Journey’ concept.” 

For countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Nairobi – the quartet on the just-completed trip – the concepts of retention and what more can they offer the clients is paramount to keeping facilities open. Some of the concepts, as well as the newest industry trends and innovations have yet to be introduced. 

“In this particular case we took the opportunity to take a holistic approach,” said Greg Highsmith, director of Strength Product Management and in charge of Global Life Fitness Academy. “We wanted to know who is the client and what is their fitness journey. And how can you operate a club in a way to embrace new members and put them in the right place and take them to where they want to go on their fitness journey. That encompasses not only (our) equipment but to have their members buy into the program and to think of the process of keeping members engaged.” 

A group photo in Tanzania.Life Fitness, like any other company, is confident in its product. But it realizes that if the exercise bicycles, treadmills or weights aren’t being used correctly, or not to its fullest, it can be for naught – the equivalent of the pieces gathering dust. 

So, the Academy goes to different areas – not limited to ones that are remote like Africa  - and provides them with structure, knowledge and education on the equipment, the industry and anything else they can provide. 

For example, a huge topic in the United States and worldwide is childhood obesity. That issue is incorporated in LFA’s education on these trips. Those discussions aren’t about the Lifecycle GX or Elevation Series 95T Engage Treadmill, but it is a subject that can go full circle back to the equipment in ways to fight the epidemic, which for the clubs that are attending the LFA events worldwide can mean more members. 

“This was the first time we stepped out of this little box we are in,” said Mennell. “The fact that we delivered this program very much outside our products but with significant links back to our products has never done before. 

“If we give them the ability to educate and give them the knowledge that they can then go back and share that with their clients. That can only mean money in their pockets. The link I made is if they want to make money, if they want to create a life for themselves and put food on table for families, this is one way to do it. 

“The trip was powerful in that way. Life Fitness Academy is a product-based program, but that isn’t all it is. Products are there, but it’s about how they link it back (to their clubs and members).” 

During the trip there were classes and demonstrations on the equipment, too. 

Added Highsmith, “One of the things we feel is the equipment is not the only part of the Life Fitness experience. It is actually helping customers get the most benefit from our products, like application and understanding. Being a global company and having the opportunity to see across the world how things change in some areas and may change in others is what we strive to do.” 

Greg Smith gives a cable motion machine master class in Uganda.The LFA team is looking to take the program that they just completed and unveil it wherever they feel it is needed. Before they left the continent the chairman of the Africa Fitness Association in Kenya came up to congratulate Mennell and the other Life Fitness employees. He wanted to work with the LFA team for a future five-day trip where he guaranteed at least 100-150 in attendance. For comparison, there were about 45 in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. 

“This program is something I know we can deliver much more globally,” Mennell said. “It grew from embryo to child real quickly. Now have opportunity to take it on a journey through adulthood.”




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