Join fitness industry experts, in collaboration with IHRSA and REX Roundtables, for a monthly talk show featuring current events, industry news, and hot topics. Sponsored by ABC Fitness Solutions.

Talks & Takes: Are Gyms the Next Blockbuster & More

The hosts discuss the industry’s hot topics including climate change, industry tailwinds, and a lot more in the August episode of Talks & Takes.

In the latest Talks and Takes, sponsored by ABC Fitness Solutions, fitness industry experts Brent Darden, Bill McBride, Blair McHaney, and Sara Kooperman, in collaboration with IHRSA and REX Roundtables, included current events on climate change, mental health, and whether to require vaccinations versus masks and testing.

All of this, plus, an update on the GYMS Act and a reminder on the Employee Retention Tax Credit. If you haven’t done so, watch the August show here or read our top insights on the segment below.

The next show will air Wednesday, September 15, 2021, at 2 p.m.

Takeaways to Consider with Extrinsic Motivators of Exercise

The show kicked off by describing that consumers are realizing that fitness is broader than just physical exercise, and is inclusive of mental health and acuity. The top 3 extrinsic motivators to exercise from a recent IHRSA study included:

  1. 46% being active

  2. 35% mental well-being

  3. 32% weight loss

Darden added that weight loss traditionally has always been in that number one spot for a reason to exercise. A mind shift has occurred pushing up the benefits of being physically active, and people are more aware of how beneficial that is not only for their physical improvement but for their mental well-being as well.

Darden said two takeaways to keep in mind with this study are:

  1. 25% would like to be more active, and

  2. to think about programming coming out of the COVID era.

People are redefining what it means to be physically active. “They're really looking at their mental well-being and just the overall benefits of being physically active,” he added.

It’s Important to Know When to Step Away or Step In When it Comes to Your Business and Mental Health

The hosts moved on to the next topic and presented a video by SCW regarding mental health. It’s a timely video as Simone Biles stepped down from multiple gold medals at the Olympics.

Kooperman said Simone Biles was our hero and she stepped away. The dedication, the sacrifice, the focus, and her whole identity is brought in, and suddenly she walks away. Now how does this relate to our industry?

“We have to make tough decisions as owners and as personal trainers on whether to furlough employees, decisions to stay open, wear a mask or not if we require vaccinations or not,” Kooperman said.

Are we actually looking at the positive mental health choices Simone Biles is making? Kooperman shared a quote from Apollo Ohno where he said, “The mind is the greatest asset or the world's largest prison.”

“As athletes and facility owners, we’re the heroes. We are where we want to be, we've made it, and then suddenly, we have to step away. Where's the finish line? How do we rebuild?” asked Kooperman.

Her advice: Pay attention to decisions. Take time to make the right decision. Step in versus step out.

Darden added to the topic and said, “All of this translates in so many ways of life. Our work-life balance, how meaningful our careers are. We are rearranging priorities. It’s a very deep topic.”

What's Your Policy Around Vax Up and Mask Up?

McHaney led the hot topic around vaccinations and masking up. The experts shared a video from SCW and then McHaney asked, “do you follow the government mandates in regards to requiring vaccines and masks? Where's testing coming in?”

Leadership Talks Takes Woman Getting Vaccine Unsplash Column

It’s all varying from state and city and some cities are making mandates before states do. It’s localized and so important to be aware of what’s happening in your area.

“If there are no mandates, what is your policy? How does it align with your market and brand? I think that’s critical to ask,” McHaney added.

Pay attention to Climate Change and Its Effects On Your Business

The group shared a video by SCW regarding climate change.

“Climate change can be lots of things; the environment, general climate in which we live our lives and how we run our businesses,” McBride said to kick off the topic.

From a business perspective, you should look at climate change and how you treat it in regards to your business's reputation damage. “Do your consumers believe you are a good corporate citizen? Are you a giver or taker when it comes to environmental issues?” McBride asked.

Natural disasters such as fires, earthquakes, and tornados, no matter where they happen in relation to you, drive up the cost of doing business. McBride pointed out that even if it’s not an issue directly affecting you, we all pay for the collective us.

He also asked to look at the cost of compliance. “What is costing us to comply with changes in regulatory issues? What's it costing us as a business to deal with COVID?”

McBride added that there’s a scarcity of resources that are always talked about with regard to the environment. These are food, water, and energy. If people are spending more money on these items, that changes your low-margin business to an even lower margin business.

“Paying attention to it and translating it all back to our business is critical,” McBride concluded.

Are Gyms the Next Blockbuster?

The discussion on whether or not gyms will go by way of Blockbuster was introduced with another video by SCW. The video describes that social connections are changing whether that is church on TV, online dating, or even going from gym to home workouts on demand.

Leadership Talks Takes Empty Gym Unsplash Column

The question is: can the fitness industry come back or will it go by way of Blockbuster? Can we reshape the gym model in order to help facilities thrive?

Kooperman stated, “What do churches, bars, and apps have in common? It's technology, customer experience, and keeping things clean and safe.”

She also stated that fitness centers are social clubs and we can leverage these learnings to help reshare gym models to thrive.

Mchaney then commented that Blockbuster did not do the job better, cheaper, or faster than Netflix. He quoted Clayton Christensen from the Jobs to be Done theory. “People never purchase a product or service, they only hire products and services to do a job better, faster or cheaper than they can on their own.”

He also noted that exercise doesn't scale. “That's a big thing, that's the essence of this industry. You can only exercise for yourself. Each person has to do it for themselves, and go to work and sweat,” said McHaney.

Kooperman closed the topic and said, “But as a business, we can scale.”

There’s Still Time to Take Advantage of the Employee Retention Tax Credit

The Employee Retention Tax Credit is important to our industry and there has been some recent news on the topic that the group shared.

There is new legislation affecting the tax credit that is now set to end at the end of September versus the end of the year, McBride explained. “You have three years to go back and amend your filings on your payroll tax taxes.

So if you did not take advantage of the ERC or ERTC, you need to talk to your tax accountant and look at that and consider going back after that money,” he said.

“It’s complex, but it’s real money and real help, '' McHaney reminded.

Don’t forget to register for the September edition of Talks & Takes, and be sure to catch it live at IHRSA 2021 in October!

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Elizabeth Studebaker

Elizabeth Studebaker focuses on new business marketing and employee engagement and advocacy for the Active Wellness organization. She has over 10 years of fitness marketing expertise and has been a speaker for IHRSA and served on the Medical Fitness Association Marketing Committee. She works out of her home office in the Bay Area and stays active by taking Active GO virtual classes or chasing around her 1.5-year-old son.