Five Tips for Becoming a Leader in the Fitness Business

By Aaron Eisberg

So you're a fitness owner who wants to raise your profile in the fitness business. While there’s a lot of competition out there, there are some things you can do to gain the inside edge. The best part? You won’t just enjoy increased exposure for you and your club, you’ll also improve when it comes to helping people make real change in their lives -- and isn’t that what it’s all about? Read on for a roundup of five tips aimed at helping you establish yourself as a fitness industry leader.


1. Follow through.

The industry moves quickly, so there’s always something new to be done or another fire to put out. However, following through on your promises -- even when you’re spinning in 360 different directions -- is a vital part of developing trust. Simply put, If you say you are going to do something, do it. 


As a fitness business owner, you're already at the top of the ladder. This doesn't mean you have no one to answer to. In this case, you have to answer to yourself and your goals -- both regarding how you want to be perceived and what your goals are. The more others can rely on you -- from your employees to your members to people within the surrounding community -- the more your status will grow. 


2. Hold yourself to the highest standard.

One of the best ways to position yourself to become a leader? Conduct yourself like one. We’ve all heard the expression, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” The same underlying principle applies here. From customer service to commitment level, professionals at the top in this business embody the best attitudes and behaviors.The same applies to interacting with members. Being a shining example of the lifestyle they’re aspiring to can help keep them engaged and willing to follow. 


3. Become a thought leader.

The fitness industry is rapidly evolving. Who is more likely to best navigate these changes -- someone who merely accepts the status quo or someone who makes a point to know the industry and where it’s going? When you have a great idea or insight, don't keep it to yourself. Share it with others by starting a blog, writing a letter to your local paper, participating in industry conference panels, and so on. Oscar Wilde once said, "The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on; it is never of any use to oneself." This couldn't be any truer -- both as a rule of thumb for life and as a strategic tactic for positioning yourself as a thought leader in the industry.


One last tip on this note? The impact of thought leadership relies on more than sharing good ideas. You must also share them in a compelling way. Dorie Clark, author of the book, Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It, highlights the importance of building out an infrastructure around your idea to make it particularly share-able. Perhaps Forbes puts it best in explaining

"If this sounds abstract, just think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief, or Chapman’s five love languages. All frameworks that make their complex theories accessible to a general audience."

4. Put other people first. 

Building your reputation is about building relationships. As New Evolution Ventures’ Derek Gallup told the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA)

"This business is always about people. From the importance of finding great people to add to your team, to constantly training and developing, to the best days of our careers where you have members on your team get promoted. Great people on your team will deliver experiences to your members beyond their expectations." 

In other words, while you make be looking up at the next rung of the ladder, don't neglect your responsibility to those coming up behind you. Treating people well, supporting their accomplishments, and helping out in a pinch all reinforce that you're a team player -- important, no matter how high up you are -- with a sought-after “big picture” perspective. The fitness industry may be big, but it's also extremely connected. Making a positive impression on everyone -- from entry-level employees on their very first day to other owners -- is one of the simplest ways to boost your profile. 


Fitness business leader


This also means adopting an attitude of service that puts your own interests on the back burner. While this may seem counterintuitive to common sense, doing so serves a higher sense of purpose. Proposes Tom Terwilliger, founder and CEO of Coaching Leadership Excellence

"The leader who has the wisdom to ask, "How can I serve you?" has an understanding of how we are all connected. Few of us can claim such mastery. What we must have is the desire and ability to model those who do." 

5. Get Out There!

Think you're doing everything you can do by treating your employees and members well, bringing the latest equipment and classes to your facility, and paying the bills each month? All of these things are critical, but they're also managerial in nature. If you're aiming to be a business leader (as opposed to a mere manager) you have to think bigger than that. Performing community service (and encouraging your employees to do the same), and participating at local chamber of commerce events are great ways to see and be seen at the local level while attending conferences and maintaining active association memberships can give you a better idea of what’s happening on the national scene and where your club -- and you -- fit into it. 


Also, don't underestimate the importance of sponsorship opportunities. In partnering with groups -- from schools to hospitals -- throughout your community to help when and how your club can, you become a go-to entitiy -- not just within your industry, but also among leaders in other industries, as well. 


The best part of doing all of this? Applying this fitness business advice to all aspects of life won't just help get you to the forefront of the business industry, it will also help you be a better person.


One of the latest trends sweeping the fitness business with which all fitness leaders should be familiar? Wearable technology. Learn more today.