… and heads up to other major chain gyms.
Having gone to various gyms over the course of 16 years of training, I was a member of the True Fitness franchise (I trained there almost daily for 3 years from 2012-2015) that abruptly closed down overnight, leaving many of their members and staff hanging, very angry and upset. In my three years of training there, what I observed on a daily basis already had me come to the conclusion that, at any moment, the chain will fold. I quit my contract with them in 2016.
Here are my personal opinions as to why they failed, and I hope other big franchise gyms can learn from their mistakes:
Strike a balance with your sales orientated culture
I’m sure anyone who has ever been a member at True (even a few other gyms) can relate to this. When my membership contract was near ending, their sales rep would suddenly hound me every time I entered the facility, trying to sell me the longest contract package possible, telling me how a longer contract would ensure me a cheaper monthly fee.
The play on these sentiments so that your urge to save money gets the better of you. Once they sign you up, good luck getting them to listen to you, must less make any real changes necessary in the gym. The days I make it a point to pay my gym fees on a monthly basis no matter where I go, I don’t mind paying a bit extra. When asked why, I tell them that this keeps the gym on their toes, knowing if they don’t adhere to a certain standard, I leave.
Gyms need to reevaluate the whole idea that chasing sales target and figures are all that matters and actually start improving the facilities and operations itself. I’m not talking about huge cost incurring improvements; even small initiatives when done consistently can make a huge difference. Believe it or not, I had stopped going to a particular gym because they removed a clock which was essential for me to time my workouts. Another positive example was when a gym that I went to bought water for its members when its water dispenser was broken. I was really impressed.
Stop being disconnected with your staff and members
Truth be told, True Fitness in Jaya 33 has one of the best layout for a gym in the Klang Valley. The floor plan was what attracted me to join them. I forged many friendships there with fellow members and staff, and I had some of my best workouts there. I loved the place so much I didn’t mind braving the rush hour jam just to train there. I had my ups, I had my downs, but I always had the gym.
Wear and tear is a norm for gyms. When I told the staff that the plates sticking to the ground were melting, nothing was done for months. Another incident of negligence occurred when I informed them that the bars and dumbbells were bent. Oftentimes, machines would be out of commission for months. The list goes on.
It’s not the fault of the staff entirely. They, too, were powerless to handling the complaints. True Fitness Jaya 33 had some of the most passionate trainers and members, however, being constantly subjected to negative situation, anyone in their right mind would quit or just be burnt out.
It’s important for owners (and operators) to be passionate about fitness and exercise rather than seeing numbers. They need to understand how it feels to prepare for something, trusting the gym will provide the best facility and service for a great workout.
Don’t fake it. One day, you will be found out
Judging by how True handled its closure the past few days, leaving their staff unpaid in commissions and salaries, engaging consultants to continue selling memberships until the very last day, etc., it’s obvious the company wants to make what little money they can and make a run for it. They never had any intention to improve people’s lives nor were they truly passionate about fitness.
I’ve been approached by investors before to open up my own gym, but have always turned them down knowing the responsibilities that come with it. I knew that if I ever opened a gym, I would want to be physically there to oversee its operation. I could never bear the thought of disappointing or letting my staff and members down.
True were some people who that that with a lot of money in their hands, they could package it up nicely with a sales tactic to make a killing at a time when the fitness industry is booming. Shame on you! Your staff and members trusted you and this is how you repay them.
Newsflash, guys … nothing good comes easy. Ironically, anyone who’s ever trained hard at a gym would know that.
This article was originally posted on ernietng.fitness. Ernie is an accomplished personal trainer in Malaysia who has competed in multiple overseas bodybuilding competition.
(Read also: True Fitness Malaysia shutters on very bad terms)