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: Finding Your MVP and Community-Building Programs

This edition of Talks and Takes with fitness industry experts Brent Darden, Bill McBride, Blair McHaney, and Sara Kooperman, in collaboration with IHRSA and REX Roundtables, broke down the most recent news around the GYMS Act, McKinsey’s theory on when the pandemic will end, McDonald’s fitness approach, finding your MVP, and more.

Before starting the show, Darden noted one correction from last month’s show. It was mentioned that there were 9,000 clubs closed. In reality, the total number of clubs that closed was 13,000, not 9,000. Rick Carroll, along with IHRSA, did the research and research was looking at club closures from March of 2020 through the end of June of 2021. Overall, it represented 22% of clubs closed. More specifically, 27% of those were studios and 14% of those were clubs.

This episode's topics include:

  • 1:00 GYMS Act Update

  • 5:10 Living With COVID

  • 11:00 COVID Discipline

  • 18:55 Behavioral Health Opportunities

  • 25:19 Community Building Programs

  • 33:40 McFitness

  • 38:59 Intrinsic Motivation for Exercise

  • 46:03 Find Your MVP

  • 52:40 Silver Linings

  • 1:00:50 Recap and Key Takeaways

Before we dive into our top takeaways from the September 15 show, don’t forget to catch the next episode of Talks & Takes on Thursday, October 14, at 11 a.m. CDT, live from IHRSA's 40th Annual International Convention & Trade Show in Dallas, TX!

Recent News On the GYMS Act

A video was shared summarizing the situation of the GYMS Act. “The bad news is the GYMS Act is not going to be included in the reconciliation bill, at least not at this point,” Darden said.

The good news is there are still bills that are being considered by the Small Business Committee. They're working on them right now and they're talking about a bill that would include several small businesses like restaurants, live venues, and health clubs and gyms for a specific Relief Act.

When Will the Pandemic End?

To kick off the topic, McHaney recommends subscribing to McKinsey. “They have a lot of great information and research. They are a global company that does tremendous consulting all around the globe. And they produce a lot of research that you can access for free,” he says.

McHaney went on to discuss the McKinsey data on “When will the COVID-19 Pandemic End?” Key things from the data found that:

  • Herd immunity probably isn't going to happen in the US but it isn’t necessary to taper into normalcy. The US could start the transition to normalcy in Q4/Q1.

  • The pandemic has got to be managed as a constant threat, and not one that requires society-defining interventions. In other words, they say it's got to be managed very much like influenza and influenza B, where you're managing against severe illness and death and moving away from managing the case counts, Darden explained.

McHaney said one of the points they make in this data report is that it's a very slow transition that’s going to require a ton of tracking. “What they're talking about returning to normalcy is not having capacity when it's on businesses, not having to wear masks everywhere, not having to show a vaccine card. That's kind of the main three points that they're making in [the report].”

Darden added that people are wanting to get back to some sort of normalcy and thank goodness, we're not hearing about possible club or business closures of any kind.

Talks Takes Outdoor Masks COVID Unsplash Column

We Must Have COVID Discipline

McBride has been looking at other industries when it comes to COVID discipline and he found a startling stat. 85% of flight attendants reported some type of altercation, 17% of those being physical in nature.

“The issue that's going on right now is the extremes are getting more extreme,“ stated McBride.

“With tempers and emotions running high we have an obligation to our members and our staff in protecting them with safe environments. We didn't hire people to be police officers. We hire our team to be hospitable and say “yes” when they can and serve people. And yet, they're in a situation now where they have to have a whole new skill set,” McBride said.

TSA is now doing self-defense training for flight attendants. “Everybody's baseline is affected here with high-stress levels and aggression. We've got to teach our teams to de-escalate and prepare them to de-escalate situations,” McBride suggested.

Kooperman shared a story about a club in Virginia where one of the members slapped the group fitness instructor that wanted her to wear a mask and the HR department of the club didn't know how to handle it.

“So I would suggest every club out there, set your policies, how you're going to handle it. Have a full blow training before the situation happens,” Kooperman shared.

Behavioral Health Opportunities

McHaney has been speaking with John Paul from National Fitness Partners, franchisee to 97 Planet Fitness gyms. They are offering free one-month membershipS to anyone going through therapy to help with mental and behavioral health. They have seen immediate traction partnering with hospitals, therapy, and health management. Bennett is hoping this concept helps the entire industry.

Darden added that Dr. Cooper and his team are launching Cooper Wellness Strategies targeted toward health clubs and giving them the tools to actually teach some ongoing sessions to some of the chronic disease issues like diabetes, cancer, arthritis, immunity, and COPD. These canned programs give the instructors the information and the training, and it'll help clubs move toward a tie-in to the medical community and being part of the healthcare continuum.

Business Resources on Ready-to-Go Programs to Help the Community

SCW created a video on community-building programs. There are several others but these are just a few for reference and their websites are listed below as well.

Kooperman started by saying, “If we can look beyond COVID, as this huge impediment, and we can look beyond that, we have had time during the pandemic to look at inclusiveness and diversity.”

Talks Takes Dancing Class Unsplash Column

McBride added that we all want to impact the community. We all have audiences that we want to make a difference with. We all have a limited bandwidth of staffing right now. We all struggle with how to curate the content for a new program. This is stuff that's on the shelf ready to go. It has a proven track record, is mostly non-profit driven, and makes a difference. It ticks all the boxes by impacting the community, helping people be able to implement, and not a big resource strain on the organization.

Below please find the websites from the Community Building Programs mentioned in the video:

McDonald’s Promotes Fitness

Darden shared that McDonald's has started a monopoly promotion in the United Kingdom that includes fitness prizes for the first time. These prizes include guest passes to fitness centers, 50% off offers, and free passes for a day, week, and even three months.

Darden said, “We need to reach audiences in a different way. And we need to reach audiences that we haven't effectively reached in the past. And a lot of people are people that go to McDonald's. So through this giveaway, they're going to be touching or giving over 7 million people the opportunity to win these sorts of health and fitness prizes.”

McDonald’s has not decided if this promotion will make it to the US yet.

Find Your MVP: Most Valuable Product

The group shared a video on finding your most valuable and minimally valuable product.

“We do have to look at what our most valuable product is. Is it our teachers? Is it our trainers? Is it comfort? We provide people the feeling of a little bit of extra luxury, but people are looking for something real and honest. They want to feel that comfort, not the fluff,” said Kooperman.

“82% of businesses fail due to proper cash flow management,” Kooperman noted. “We get so excited that something's working well and it's not just your balance sheet, it's not just your income statement, it's about how much is coming in today and you have to look for patterns and look for trends. We have no patterns, we have no trends. We're in uncharted waters right now.”

Kooperman recommended looking at scenario planning, such as, what's our best-case scenario for this month? What's our worst-case scenario?

McHaney added that the video also mentioned MVP stands for a minimally viable product and that people should think about that. “We don't offer a lot of services in our club. But what we say is what we're going to offer, we're going to do really, really well. And we don't have to do everything right.”

“When you learn what to say no to almost more than what you learn to say yes to, that really helps define, you know, who you are,” said Darden.

Make sure you catch Talks & Takes live and reconnect with old friends and fitness professionals at IHRSA 2021 in Dallas!

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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.