IHRSA 2014 - A Busy Schedule In San Diego. Hope To See You There

This year IHRSA 2014 will be one of the best ever. I am particulary delighted to be speaking at the Medical Wellness Association forum, sharing views with the leaders of IHRSA Federations from around the world, conducting a technology roundtable with some great industry experts and sharing views on mobile technologies and their impact.

One really special aspect of the event will be Gary Vaynerchuk's talk on Friday morning. If you are attending IHRSA this year, do not miss it. I've included Gary's video discussing health clubs and how social media and consumer change are impacting the industry. You might find it very amusing and insightful.

Hope to see you at IHRSA this year. Watch these videos on my two main presentations on Thursday and Friday at 1:30 pm. Hope to see you there.

About Bryan

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

 

An Important Secret About The Competitive Health Club And Fitness Industry

I know , please don't give me a hard time about it. I just keep trying to make sure you're paying attention to what is REALLY going on out there in this great big world of ours. Admittedly its hard, when our heads are down and we are slugging away at obstacles and opportunities everyday. But things have changed, really changed. So please think about this the next time you sit down to evaluate your business, your profession and our industry. You see the way we think has got to change if we are to remain relevant.

I've mentioned Rita Mcgrath before . As one of the leading thinkers in global innovation, Rita is now coming out with a new and compelling book titled, The End of Competitve Advantage, How To Keep Your Strategy Moving As Fast As Your Business. in this book lies some secrets for us to use when it comes to our future. Here's and excerpt from the book:

Are you at risk of being trapped in an uncompetitive business?

Chances are the strategies that worked well for you even a few years ago no longer deliver the results you need. Dramatic changes in business have unearthed a major gap between traditional approaches to strategy and the way the real world works now. In short, strategy is stuck. Most leaders are using frameworks that were designed for a different era of business and based on a single dominant idea—that the purpose of strategy is to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Once the premise on which all strategies were built, this idea is increasingly irrelevant.

As with other industries this is the predominant thinking embraced by leadership in the health club and fitness industry today . Failing to collaborate and the myopic view that competition is primarily derived from others within our space is flawed thinking. As with other industries, increasingly competition is going to come from other industries. We need to change how we think. Otherwise many will likely fail and be left to their demise in a wake of denial. Opening our eyes to Rita's view point is an excellent tonic for us to take as we examine the reality of many of our businesses today. I hope you will find this thinking helpful.

Check out Rita's brief video below as she explains the concepts behind the End of Competitive Advantage and please let me, Bryan O'Rourke, know what you think about her views.

About the author:

Bryan O’Rourke is a health club industry expert, technologist, financier, shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He works for Fitmarc, which delivers Les Mills programs to over 700 facilities in the US. He advises successful global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank and serves as CEO of the Fitness Industry Technology Council. To join FIT-C visit www.fit-c.org . To learn more contact Bryan here today .

 

Collaboration: What Do Transmissions Have To Do With Health Clubs, and Fitness and Wellness ?

 

I’ve deep respect for so many of the leaders and innovators in the fitness, wellness and health club business. I don’t want to appear as though I’m kissing up by naming names (you know what i mean). But, and this is a BIG BUT, some of those on that list might be suffering from a little short sightedness. You see I think scarcity thinking is holding us back from big opportunities by working together with an abundance view in our industry. What does that mean ?

Ford and General Motors recently announced they are teaming up to design new nine-speed and 10-speed transmissions for use in a variety of vehicles, a move aimed at improving fuel efficiency for the rivals' vehicles. Now you might ask why would rivals work together to design technologies that can provide a strategic advantage ? Because they understand the big picture that’s why. In this case the big picture is dramatic impacts on fuel efficiency. This opportunity pressed against the cost of attempting to develop it alone leads rational business people to conclude working together is truly the best decision.

Enter the fitness and health club space where the largest and smallest of exercise equipment manufacturers seem focused on developing independent solutions for every opportunity. An example are technology platforms and interoperability among equipment brands. Outside of C-Safe , a technology standard created by FitLinxx and generously provided to the industry years ago, there has been little if ANY collaboration around this. The same could be said about many other aspects of the club business, and the fitness and wellness industries in general (not wanting to pick on you equipment folks alone) where fear of competitive advantage prohibits many from working together on universal standards as they could. From caloric burn rates to communication protocols, there is a lot of opportunity for us to agree and move things forward.

Now there have been collaborations. The NSF facility standards, for example, were recently agreed to after many many years of effort. IHRSA has been driving initiatives like the Public Policy Council which relies on contributions to promote public policy and legislative agendas that benefit the industry. FIT-C has started with a group of forward thinking people to create technology standareds. There has been some collaboration among various service providers as well. But its not been enough and that collaboration has taken to long in my view.

Looking at other industries provides many examples of the benefits of industry collaboration. Without a protocol like Wi-Fi there would not have been wide spread adoption of mobile computing. In the instance of WiFi, industry leaders created standards with a vision to what would be possible, like GM and Ford are today. They realized that the benefits of collaboration outweighed the cost because the work would grow the market considerably for everyone and at a faster pace. 

What if competitors in our arena did more of the same: thought about opportunities for collaboration instead of identifying the uncommon ground? I just don’t think there is enough of that type of thinking in our industry today. Often people are too busy protecting their turf as opposed to seeing the bigger picture: the delivery of primary prevention as a larger commercial aspect of people’s health management in the future. If we are going to grow the market beyond the 16% of US adults using bricks and mortar fitness facilities in the US and in the rest of the world we will need to change our orientation. We will have to grow up and meet the promise of the future by seeing what that future will be and by working together to achieve it.

If we don’t spend more effort on this undertaking the risk will continue to rise. If we don’t collaborate more, organizations from outside our sphere are going to enter the space and meet the demand for services with technologies and business models that we weren’t contemplating. While free market economics allow for survival of the smartest and that is good, 

What do you think ? Is there enough collaboration in the health club, fitness and wellness industry today ? Why do you think so ? Thanks for reading and feel free to contact me to discuss your views. 

About the author:

Bryan O’Rourke is a health club industry expert, technologist, financier, shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He works for Fitmarc, which delivers Les Mills programs to over 700 facilities in the US. He advises successful global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank and serves as CEO of the Fitness Industry Technology Council. To join FIT-C visit www.fit-c.org . To learn more contact Bryan here today .

Is Innovation Missing Its Purpose ? Often The Answer Is Yes; Health Clubs Should Take Note

I've referenced Brian Solis before. During a recent interview with (famous in tech circles) Jesse James Garrett (below) he explores the notion of innovation and user (aka customer) experience. Garrett is a thought leader in the emerging world of user experience (UX) and wrote the book The Elements of User Experience (check it out). Leaders in the health club and fitness industries should take heed. Here are some exerpts (paraphrased):

Innovation often comes from Gorilla Movements in organizaitons that bubble up to people at the top.....Is Innovation missing its purpose ? Quite often it is....People that are really good at user experience and innovation are good at distinguishing "Innovation" from "Novelty".

Its very hard for leaders to see what is coming, given the rate of change today. So I thought the Solis interview came at the perfect time, following my read of the @IHRSA Club Business International , article Fresh Face of Fitness. In that article my friend and colleauge Rasmus Ingerslev, CEO of Wexer and Health Club chain Fresh Fitness was deservedly featured. Here's a slice of the article on Rasmus Ingerslev:

Just as in any other industry, ours keeps evolving faster and faster. In the process, competition is intensifying. As a result, there will likely be even more segmentation, which will create clear value propositions in the niche, low-, mid- and high-end markets. On the positive side, I believe this will help attract more members, growing the overall market. My concern is that we’ll see bubbles in segments that grow too fast, specifically the low-cost sector, and collapses in the middle-market. The latter may be the toughest position, as it’s at risk of being viewed as neither fowl nor fish. But, as in any industry, there will always be room for best-in-class.

In a business where many leaders are still focusing on differentiation in simple ways, more forward thinking pros like Rasmus are combing new delivery methods and customer service models that are completely different (live group classes and digitally deliivered classes are an example). I think what Rasmus says is very on target. His vision reflects what its going to take to achieve success in the fitness and health club industry in the years ahead. Deeply understanding customers and their emerging needs are critical to success in the future. Unfortunately many in the business think novelty is innovation and they will soon discover how wrong they were to do so. This is particularly true when it comes to blending bricks and mortar and digital technology solutions as Rasmus has.

Watch the interview below with Brian Solis and Jessse James Garrett as they discuss UX. Congrats to my friend Rasmus Ingerslev for his success and vision. What do you think about Fresh Fitness and Wexer ? Do you see this type of innovation as more than a novelty ? How do you think leading brands could improve UX ? Please share your views with me, Bryan O'Rourke. Thanks for your thoughts.

About the author:

Bryan O’Rourke is a health club industry expert, technologist, financier, shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He consults with global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank, is Chair of the Medical Fitness Association’s Education Committee, is President of the Fitness Industry Technology Council and a partner in Fitmarc, Integerus, Fitsomo and the Flywheel Group. To learn more contact Bryan here today .

What An Emerging "OPEN" World Means For The Health Club & Fitness Industry

Over the weekend I viewed @dtapscott and his recent and excellent TED Talk "Welcome To The Open World" [VIDEO BELOW]. Mr. Tapscott and I agree: the world is going through revolutionary times . What is most curious to me is how many leaders really don't see it; many continue to see the problems of today in the context of the past and the health club and fitness industry is certainly not immune from this. Business models, like health clubs, are going to experience great upheavel with some leveraging tremendous opportunities while others flounder. Any organization that participates in the fitness and health club business, be it through the delivery of education or industry advocacy, is going to have to fundamentally change how it operates to succeed in its mission. If leaders don't embrace that change their organizations will not survive.

When it comes down to what to do, a fundamental means for success requires aligning ones thinking to the new and present future. As I've menioned, this requires rethinking the problems of today in terms of what is really happening NOW; not in the context of the past. While not an easy task; it is a neccessary one.

 Don Tapscott explores this topic in his "Open World Talk" and shares what he sees as its 4 characteristics (Collaboration, Transparency, Sharing and Empowerment) . A few years ago I described the "Revolutionary World" as having six characteristics:

1. Old School Institutions Vanish

2. Orchestration Trumps Ownership

3. Transparency Modality Is Fundamental

4. The Rise Of The Rest As Wealth Is Redistributed

5. An Explosion Of Participants

6. Human Conciousness Evolves

The drivers of advancing technology ,globalsim and changing demograpgics are not going away. If these characteristics are a central part of how you view the future, great opportunities lie ahead. If you choose to ignore these traits then you are in peril. Watch the video clip from @dtapscott below and please tell me, Bryan O'Rourke, what do you think? Which fitness professionals and industry leaders do you think are preparing for what's to come ?  Whether one calls it the Open World or a Revolution do you think fundamental change is upon us ?  I think it is. Many thanks Don, for your great talk.

About the author:

Bryan O’Rourke is a health club industry expert, technologist, financier, and shareholder and executive in several fitness companies. He consults with global brands, serves as a member of the GGFA Think Tank is Chair of the Medical Fitness Association’s Education Committee, is President of the Fitness Industry Technology Council and a partner in Fitmarc, Integerus, Fitsomo and the Flywheel Group. To learn more contact Bryan here today .