I am writing this before my 70th birthday party celebration, so it’s too early to share with you how it all went. I do need to say thank you to all of you whom have given me cards and letters with amazing messages in many of them. I feel very humbled by the thoughts you have shared with me.
Petrina has been doing an incredible job of organising everything and I know we will have some fun activities to keep people entertained (and others will have as much enjoyment I think watching the antics of the courageous partygoers who give it a go!). There will be Sumo wrestling outfits and a bouncy castle thing, a face painter and a kid’s corner plus a Boris the Black Knight (magician, balloon designer and joker) who will roam around for the four hours.
Nessa has been a huge support to Petrina and there will be so many others helping on the day to make it all special so I hope you are coming IF you can! I have asked Brian if he can get a bit of help from some mates for when he does the tidy up at 4pm. If you are able to do this, let Brian know because he is not very good at asking for help.
It is a very sobering topic that I want to broach in this newsletter in the follow up to the tragic death of a young man trapped under a barbell when working out recently.
For the past decade I have been aware that the fitness industry has taken a definite turn towards having fixed overhead expenses only, such as the provision of good equipment, extended access without staffing, and all the usual expenses of electricity, water, rent etc. rather than invest in professional human resources i.e. good staff. This has been driven by consumer demand because most people wanting to attend a traditional “gym” want the most reasonable “deal” they can get. This is possible if the gym owner knows what fixed overhead expenses they will have but if that owner then has to factor in employing staff to look after the members, this variable expense becomes an incredible barrier to being able to provide a gym membership at a competitive price. Hence the business model out there in the marketplace is “the fewer staff the better”.
My business model is light years away from the current marketplace model. Conversations I have had at Conventions with other business owners have always been interesting. Most fitness centre businesses owners are men actually and they have told me that it is impossible to provide the sort of Centre I want and to make it financially feasible. It has taken a great deal of passion to prove them wrong and the Green Apple is the proof that it can be done. I might say that if I didn’t own all the property and the equipment outright and if I had to pay rent and hire fees as many Centres do, I would have to charge much higher fees to cover the payroll.
So, I return to the reason I am writing this, which is the problem of having people unsupervised, and in many cases, poorly programmed for (or in many cases not programmed for at all but just given access to equipment). While this is the environment being offered out there by so many Centres and while the public continues to want cheap prices, we have this ongoing danger of significant risk.
Now you will understand why my model requires
- High ratio of staff to client
- A systemised process of entry with a comprehensive Initial Consultation and extended Induction into the gym, Buddy sessions etc.
- Progressive tailored programming every 8 weeks (and asking people to stick to their program and not to experiment with things they have not been taught to use).
We have a very large staff for such a small place and we are all busy, busy all the time. Everyone on staff know that our first priority is duty of care to you, the members. And I know you appreciate this because you are always telling me what wonderful staff I have.
I do very little advertising. I rely on members passing on their experiences within the Green Apple to people whom they think would benefit from coming here. I believe if we can do a good job for you that you will encourage others to come to the Green Apple to gain the health (and happiness) outcomes you have. I rely on your word of mouth recommendations (that are precious to me) which ensure that the Green Apple can continue to be a successful business model, despite all odds.