If you read my posts (thanks if you do) I am certain you might get a little tired of the terms “collaboration” and “transparency”. However, the truth is technology is democratizing much of the world; this is a reality everyone should ponder. You just can’t hide anymore and this fact is very hard for some people to accept. What is even more challenging a notion is that competitive collaboration can lead to more fruitful innovations which is unquestionable and done every day in other industries but for some to get their minds around that idea is like asking them to jump off a high rise in the belief they won't be harmed (remember the matrix video?). In reflecting on some events last week, I had to ponder these subjects myself because of what happened, again. You see it is apparent to me thata lack of transparency and a failure to collaborate are some of the biggest challenges our industry faces. Its getting back to the scacity thinking again snd please bare with me while I explain.
In a few of my networks last week I shared that Johnson Health Tech, which manufactures the Matrix Fitness brand, is recalling Matrix Fitness trainers and ellipticals that pose a fire hazard. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall on January 23, 2014.. About 2,800 Ascent Trainers by Matrix and Matrix Fitness elliptical units that were installed from November 2011 through December 2012 are being recalled.
As Club Industry reported and tweeted , this is the second product recall pertaining to the fitness industry that the CPSC has announced this month. Cybex International is recalling 234 Olympic decline free weight benches manufactured from December 2008 to September 2013.
What was interesting were several emails I got from a few people who found my tweeting the recall and sharing it on Linkedin “distasteful”, “tacky”, reflecting a “lack of credibility”, being “negative” and “undermining the industry” . Are you kiding me ? You might only imagine the origin of some of these emails. By the way, this information was being shared all over the Internet by others and I did not in any way twist the facts or share a particular view on it. I'm not being defensive when I say that many of our customers and industry friends rely on me sharing pertinent industry information, which I try to do. Do some people really believe that tweeting (sharing) public information about an equipment recall is somehow undermining a global brand like Matrix ? Or is the sensitivity a sign of something else ? I think its the later. Give me a break.
Before I get into this subject and In the interest of full disclosure (again to transparency) our organizations have happily done work for and with Star Trac, Schwinn, Stairmaster and Mr. Michael Bruno with whom we have a wonderful relationship. We also advise and sell other equipment, programs like Les Mills, services and technologies. We work with some of the leading bricks and mortar health club brands in the for profit and non-profit club business among doing many other things. I guess any of these various players could see each other as competitors but we try to be as transparent as we can keeping the big picture in mind. Most people who know me, follow me and read my work would think we are pretty transparent (I hope). I don’t think you couldn’t know what I am doing or where I am on any given day and we don’t try and hide it. If you disagree please let me know.
What the emails and comments I received regarding the Matrix Fitness story did reflect is something I’ve noticed over the years in the health club and fitness industry in general. Its called a scarcity attitude. Of course there will always be a bit of strain and stress in any marketplace and not everyone is going to like you. Robert Dyer and I laughingly say that many of the organizations and professionals we speak with before they get to know us keep waiting for the “hook”, but there is no hook when it comes to us. I don’t think some people believe that though because of other experiences they have, like my emails they are accustomed to a lack of collaboration and scarcity thinking.
I replied to the emails regarding the Matrix recall and asked the folks who did write to call me so we could talk. No one has taken me up on it as of this writing. In the world of transparency its important to be transparent. But there are many who probably didn’t write but might have felt the same way and this is what I want to address. You'll note I did not name names because that would not have been fair.
This attitude of distrust, of short term competitive advantage, of one over another is damaging the fitness and particularly the health club industry. It is a major contributor to why the industry has not collaborated on shared technological development in DECADES for example and its this short term view that could be our undoing. We’ve got to help each other but by working on constructive solutions . I was privy to the behind closed door discussions and negativity put forth by various competitors during the turnaround of Star Trac as Michael Bruno rescued the business; all designed for competitive gain. I’ve seen it happen to others as well. My reputation has been attacked by some leading professionals in the space as well behind closed doors and sometimes not. Like they say, "haters are going to hate." Anytime anyone is leading change its what you’d expect but instead of letting that be the bottom line we need others to stand up and show another way, to fill the void.
This is why I am involved with a number of other leaders in the Fitness Industry Technology Council. We need to create a forum to advance the supply and delivery side of the industry given the rate of technological change. Its why I am thankful to participate with ACE’s Industry Advisory Panel as well as the other organizations like IHRSA and their Public Policy Council where we try and help.
We’ve great respect for almost every major player in the industry including our friend Michael Bruno, Star Trac, Stairmaster, Schwinn, Johnson Health Tech’s Matrix, Cybex, Precor, Life Fitness and Technogym among many others. Believe me, tweeting about the Matrix recall was not done to damage Matrix. But in an age of transparency and with the realization that the biggest threat is not each other but our failure to collaborate I ask that you read some of my other blog posts and content and see my intention is to bring people together to identify a changing world and marketplace and collaborate around the future. Failing to do so will only lead to missed opportunities for us all.
So tell me, should I be more transparent and how ? Should I not tweet anything about any supplier in the industry if it touches upon a challenge they are having ? Would that make me better, less transparent ? Please share your views with me and thanks for taking time to read the post.
Bryan O’Rourke is considered by many to be a thought leader on technology, health club, consumer and wellness trends. He has been quoted in periodicals like the Wall Street Journal, and has been published in journals around the world on his views of how technology will create the dawn of a new era of opportunity for the health club and fitness industries. In addition to being an industry expert, Bryan is a keynote speaker, technologist, financier, shareholder and executive in several companies. He has spoken on a range of business and trend topics on four continents. As a contract executive and advisor, Bryan wears many hats, including working for Fitmarc, which delivers Les Mills programs to over 750 facilities in the US. He serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank, sites on ACE's Industry Advisory Panel and is CEO of the Fitness Industry Technology Council. To join FIT-C visit www.fit-c.org . To learn more contact Bryan here