Fitness Trends 2019

The 2019 Fitness Trends from ACSM have been released! Not much has changed and not much of a surprise with wearable technology still at the top of it’s game! It was interesting to note that Personal Training is not always meant exactly the way we think it is; interestingly it seems that Personal Training includes the likes of inductions and the on-boarding process that many of us use within leisure facilities. Health & Wellness Training is creeping up closely to the top ten; are you ready for the day Wellness takes over Fitness??

  1. Wearable Technology. Wearable technology includes fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices. Examples include fitness and activity trackers like those made by Misfit®, Garmin®, and Apple®. These devices can track heart rate, calories, sitting time, and much more. Wearable technology first appeared as a fitness trend in 2016. It was the #1 trend in 2016 and 2017 before dropping to #3 for 2018.
  2. Group Training. Group exercise instructors teach, lead, and motivate individuals through intentionally designed, larger, in-person group movement classes (more than five participants, or it would be group personal training). Group classes are designed to be effective, motivational sessions for different fitness levels with instructors having leadership techniques that help individuals in their class achieve fitness goals. There are many types of classes and equipment, from cardio-based classes and indoor cycling to dance-based classes to step classes. For the 2019 survey, the description of this trend was changed from large group training to group training. Group exercise training programs have been around for a long time and have appeared as a potential worldwide trend since this survey was originally constructed. However, it was only in 2017 that group exercise training made the top 20, appearing at #6, and #2 in the 2018 survey.
  3. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). These exercise programs typically involve short bursts of high-intensity bouts of exercise followed by a short period of rest. Although there are several commercial examples of HIIT, all emphasize higher intensities (above 90%) of maximum during the higher intensity segments followed by periods of rest and recovery. Although offered as a possible trend in previous surveys, but not making the top 20, HIIT was #1 in the survey for 2014 and 2018 and has been in the top five every year since 2014. Despite the warnings by some fitness professionals of potentially increased injury rates using HIIT, this form of exercise has been popular in gyms all over the world.
  4. Fitness Programs for Older Adults. This is a trend that emphasizes and caters to the fitness needs of the Baby Boom and older generations. These individuals in general have more discretionary money than their younger counterparts, and fitness clubs may capitalize on this growing market. People are living longer, working longer, and remaining healthy and active much longer. This trend is making a strong return after being in the top 10 since 2007 (when it was the #2 trend) before dropping to #11 for 2017. Last year, fitness programs for older adults was the #9 trend.
  5. Bodyweight Training. A combination of variable resistance bodyweight training and neuromotor movements using multiple planes of movement, this program is all about using bodyweight as the training modality. Bodyweight training often uses minimal equipment, which makes it an inexpensive functional way to exercise effectively. Bodyweight training appeared for the first time in the trends survey in 2013 (at #3) and was in the #2 position for 2017 and #4 for 2018. Bodyweight training did not appear as a survey trend option before 2013 because it only became popular (as a defined trend) in gyms around the world over the past few years.
  6. Employing Certified Fitness Professionals. The importance of hiring certified health/fitness professionals through educational programs and certification programs that are fully accredited for health/fitness professionals is more important than ever. More certification programs have become accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies and thus allow employers easy access to certification validation. Employing certified fitness professionals was a new survey item for 2019 replacing “educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals,” which was determined to be too broadly defined as a survey item.
  7. Yoga. Yoga has taken on a variety of forms within the past year (including Power Yoga, Yogilates, yoga in hot environments, and others). Instructional tapes and books also are plentiful, as are certifications in the many yoga formats. Yoga first appeared in the top 10 in this survey in 2008, fell out of the top 20 in 2009, but made a great comeback in the 2010 (#14) and 2011 (#11) surveys. In 2012, Yoga was #11 on the list, falling to #14 in 2013, and up to #7 in 2015. In 2017, it ranked #8 after occupying the #7 spot in 2015 and #10 in 2016. Yoga was ranked #7 in last year’s survey.
  8. Personal Training. This trend continues as the profession of personal training becomes more accessible online, in health clubs, in the home, and in worksites that have fitness facilities. Personal training includes fitness testing and goal setting with the trainer working one on one with a client to prescribe workouts specific to each client’s individual needs and goals. Since this survey was first published in 2006 (1), personal training has been a top 10 trend.
  9. Functional Fitness Training. This is a trend toward using strength training and other activities/movements to improve balance, coordination, strength, and endurance to improve activities of daily living. Replicating actual physical activities someone might do as a function of their daily routine, functional fitness first appeared on the survey in the #4 position in 2007 but fell to #8 in 2008 and #11 in 2009. It reappeared in the top 10 for 2010 at #7 and in 2011 at #9. In 2012, functional fitness was #10 and in 2013 and 2014 it was #8, #9 for 2015, #7 in 2016, #12 in 2017, and #10 for 2018. Some of the survey respondents said they typically pair functional fitness with fitness programs for older adults (see trend #4) depending on the needs of the client. Functional fitness also is used in clinical programs to replicate activities done around the home.
  10. Exercise is Medicine. Exercise is Medicine (EIM) is a global health initiative that is focused on encouraging primary care physicians and other health care providers to include physical activity assessment and associated treatment recommendations as part of every patient visit, and referring their patients to exercise professionals. In addition, EIM recognizes fitness professionals as part of the health care team in their local communities. EIM was the #7 trend in 2017 and #12 for 2018.
  11. Health/Wellness Coaching. This is a trend to incorporate behavioral science into health promotion and lifestyle medicine programs for individuals. Health/wellness coaching uses a one-on-one (and at times small-group) approach with the coach providing support, goal-setting, guidance, and encouragement. The health/wellness coach focuses on the client’s values, needs, vision, and short- and long-term goals using behavior change intervention strategies. Previous surveys included wellness coaching but for the 2019 survey, the term “health” was added to better describe the trend. Wellness coaching has been in the top 20 since 2010. Wellness coaching was listed at #17 in 2014, #13 in 2015, #13 for 2016, #15 in 2017, and #18 for 2018.
  12. Exercise for Weight Loss. This is a trend toward incorporating all weight loss programs with a sensible exercise program. Most sensationalized diet programs incorporate some kind of exercise program into the daily routine. However, in 2019, the coupling of diets, diet pills, and cooking classes with exercise will become more important. Exercise in weight loss programs has been a top 20 trend since the survey began. In 2009, exercise and weight loss was ranked #18, moving to #12 in 2010, #7 in 2011, and #4 in 2012, and in 2013 the #5 spot. In 2014, this trend was ranked #6 and remained at #6 for 2015. Exercise and weight loss was #9 in the 2016 survey and #10 in the 2017 survey. In 2018, exercise for weight loss was the #11 trend.
  13. Mobile Exercise Apps. Now available for mobile devices such as the iPhone®, iPad®, and Android, apps like Nike Run Club® and MapMyRun or Ride include both audio and visual prompts to begin and end exercise and cues to move on. Other apps include Endomondo Pro® and Yoga with Janet Stone® among many others. Some of these apps can track progress over time as well as hundreds of other functionalities. Previous surveys restricted this trend to mobile phone apps. Smartphone apps was ranked #26 for 2018.
  14. Mobility/Myofascial Devices. These devices include the deep tissue roller, myofascial release, and trigger point relief and are designed to massage, relieve muscle tightness and muscle spasms, increase circulation, ease muscular discomfort, and assist in the return to normal activity. Rollers have been designed for the low back, the hips, and larger muscle groups, such as the hamstrings and the gluteals. Some rollers are made of foam, whereas others are hard rubber, to achieve the desired effect. Flexibility rollers were the #16 trend in 2016, #20 in 2017, and #15 for 2018.
  15. Worksite Health Promotion and Workplace Well-being Programs. This is a trend toward a range of programs and services provided by employers to improve the health and wellness of workers and is integrated with systems to support the evaluation of and reporting on the impact on health, costs, and productivity. Programs are generally on-site or programmed with a local gym. Previous surveys restricted this trend to worksite health promotion. For the 2019 survey, workplace well-being programs was added to the description. Worksite health promotion was the #16 trend in 2017 before dropping out of the top 20 for 2018.
  16. Outcome Measurements. This is a trend toward accountability. There will be efforts to define, track, and report outcomes. Measurements are necessary to determine the benefits of health and fitness programs in disease management and to document success in changing negative lifestyle habits. The proliferation of technology will aid in data collection to support these efforts. Outcome measurements was the #21 trend for 2018.
  17. Outdoor Activities. This is a trend for health and fitness professionals to offer more outdoor activities such as group walks, group rides, or organized hiking groups. They can be short events, daylong events, or planned week hiking excursions. Participants may meet in a local park, hiking area, or on a bike trail with a leader. The trend for health and fitness professionals to offer outdoor activities for their clients began in 2010. In that year, outdoor activities was #25 in the annual survey and in 2011 it ranked #27. In 2012, outdoor activities was #14, and in 2013, outdoor activities were ranked #13, in 2014 it was #14, in 2015 it was #12, in 2016 it was ranked #14 and #13 in 2017. In 2018, outdoor activities was ranked #14.
  18. Licensure for Fitness Professionals. Some professions in the United States and around the world are regulated by licensure. For example, someone cannot call themselves a medical doctor or nurse, and in most states, a physical therapist or dietitian, without holding a license. This is a trend in the fitness industry for more regulations of fitness professionals such as personal trainers. Licensure for fitness professionals first appeared as a fitness trend in 2018 when it was ranked #16.
  19. Small Group Personal Training. This trend expands the personal trainer’s role from strictly one-on-one training to small group training. The personal trainer works with two or more people (but in a small group of less than five) and offers discounts for the group. In 2007, group personal training was #19 on the list but in 2008 it rose to #15 but dropped again in 2009 to #19 and improved to #10 in 2010. In 2011, group personal training was #14 on the survey, #8 in 2012, #10 in 2013, #9 in 2014, #10 in 2015, #11 in 2016, #14 in 2017, and #13 for 2018.
  20. Postrehabilitation Classes. These are exercise programs specifically designed for patients with chronic health conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke recovery, which are generally outside of a medical referral; also could include posttraumatic disorders seen in soldiers coming back from military combat. Postrehabilitation classes was ranked #27 for 2018.

Until Next Time…..


Team Culture – Ten Traits of a Highly Productive Team

Have you ever been part of a productive team? Do you remember what that felt like?
Have you ever been part of an unproductive team? Do you remember what that felt like?

Team culture plays a large role in job satisfaction and productivity so it’s essential that when we are leading teams we consider the elements that make a highly productive team; not only for the outcomes of the business but to retain our skilled employees through job satisfaction.

Ten traits of a highly productive team

Ownership – passing the buck and placing blame on others is ineffective and creates a negative environment within a team. Taking ownership of the task through to completion builds trust within the team and creates a clear end goal for team members. Of course, the leader of the team has overall ownership of the teams tasks so has a clear role to play in assigning tasks; I have written a separate article about leadership here.

Initiative – team members bringing their initiative to the table is a welcome trait. Those who work on their own initiative are likely to complete their tasks more efficiently due to requiring less support during the course of the tasks. Of course; that’s not to be confused with working in isolation which is to carry on regardless without any input or support from the team because the team member has their own view on how the tasks should be completed. Using ones own initiative and working in isolation are different things.

Mastermind – as Napoleon Hill states; the power of the mastermind is the driving force behind all achievement. That is; a driving force of a team full of ideas and collaboration is stronger than an individuals lone ideas. Therefore; every team members’ ideas, suggestions, challenges and solutions are valid; regardless of their position. Again, it is the leaders responsibility to create the setting for the mastermind to be relevant and effective “ten minds are better than one when working together in harmony”. I have worked in teams that weren’t even within my department; but the leader of the project felt that my skills and ideas would benefit their project so I was invited to attend the project team meetings. This was a great learning experience for me and from that moment onwards I sought out team members from varying departments that had skills and ideas to attend project team meetings which helped the team to challenge the status quo and bring a different perspective to the challenges we faced.

Trust – one of the killers of a productive team is lack of trust and respect for each other. Underlying personal or professional grudges create false realities and cause friction within a team. Regular team building and dealing with issues quickly can help build trust and respect within the team. The leader has a large role to play in setting the scene for rapid issue resolution and team building to occur.

Goals – teams can not be productive without each member understanding what they are working towards. Have you ever been in a job where you felt like you were “just doing a job” because it wasn’t clear how your role fits into the organisations purpose? I have and it’s damaging to your confidence as well as your positivity which is a dangerous mix for a productive team. Most people want to feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves and when you spend so many hours of your life at work we, as leaders, can not allow team members to feel that their role isn’t contributing to the bigger picture. Goals. Important. ☺️

Development – lack of developing the team members skills is one of the biggest reasons organisations lose talented and skilled staff. Most people want to feel like they are moving forward in their careers, it’s a mark of respect from the organisation to the employee when they invest in the employee. This creates a positive and productive employee who in returns respects their employer and remains an effective contributing team member.

Positivity – it’s hard to remain positive if many of the other items listed above have not been achieved. Forced positivity is a false economy. Positivity must be genuine and can only be achieved through a positive work environment. Employee surveys can help us understand where areas of concern lie and better understanding our employees on an emotional level. Our team members are humans not numbers and it’s important we respect each other’s differing personalities.

Kept in the loop – I have worked for organisations that have done this really well and ones that haven’t. The ones that did this well-earned respect from the team even during some very challenging times. The organisations that didn’t do this well created an environment of distrust, negativity and speculation which ultimately damages the reputation of both the organisation and the team members. Secrecy is never a good trait for an organisation to have. Confidentiality and strategic communications are important when dealing with sensitive issues; but secrecy; that is when one person in the team is up to speed but not the others; begins a downward spiral towards distrust, speculation and environment where hearsay confuses reality. No matter how large the project or how sensitive the content of the project it is essential that an effective communications plan is devised from the outset to ensure the team is appropriately ‘kept in the loop’. I am a huge advocate for updating my teams on performance; because if we do not then how do they know where they are, where they need to be and how, we as a team, are going to work together to get there. After quizzing a senior manager  once about a missing pathway in the organisations strategy I was asked “does it matter? do the team members really care about the strategic direction?” my answer is “yes, yes they do, they just don’t know it as “strategic direction” they know it is their “action plans” and without this pathway how can they possibly understand how their  day-to-day tasks make a difference to the organisation?” Never underestimate the importance of being kept in the loop.

Feedback – two-way feedback is an essential component to working within a productive team. The reason we say two-way is the feedback should not always come from the leader or project manager. I have seen business owners meet with their teams and present an idea they have to the team and tell the team how much they like their own idea. The business owner would then ask their team members what they think. Now how many of them would have been brave enough to state they didn’t like the idea that their manager has just presented to them??? Not many. Therefore, it is essential that out personal opinions are kept to one side until everyone has had the opportunity to feedback. Again, the project manager or team leader should create the environment for feedback to occur without prejudice. I admit, I have been guilty in the past of being super-excited about an idea and have been really keen to share it with the team and then disappointed when the team weren’t quite as excited as me; but this is a process and the feedback from the other team members gave me the insight to understand the challenges my idea presented allowing us to consider alternative options and solutions.

Approachable – as mentioned earlier, we are all human. We can not switch this off simply because we may work in a corporate environment. We need to be more aware of human behaviour. Emotional intelligence is a great skill to have. It does not mean you are a weak manager or team member; the opposite in fact. It means we can adapt our language, tone and presentation of information dependent on the personality type of the team. Therefore, being approachable is vital to a productive team. Team members simply won’t engage well with unapproachable people which results in project delays and mis-communication.

So now we have looked at some traits that result in a highly productive team it is worth considering how we go about achieving those traits. There are some ideas listed in the content above; but by all means, drop me a message or give me a call if you need to brainstorm some ideas or chat about specific issues your team may be facing and we can work through it together.

Until Next Time


What Makes a Good Leader?

Are you a “Cool Cat” or an “Explosive Eddy”?

I don’t know about you, but I have seen plenty of infographics and social media posts about what makes a good leader and they are all much of the same but here are some I particularly resonate with because they are traits I have seen in good leaders and traits I continue to develop for myself. Let me know what traits you feel resonate with you by commenting on this post!

  • Self Manages – the ability to manage ones self is a skill within itself! Effective time management, prioritising and regulating your own emotions are essential skills of an effective leader. Too often we have seen admin tasks taking up our time when we have big impact changing tasks on our to do lists. Effective leaders know how to manage their time and say no to tasks that take away from the overall vision. I have seen some very “cool cat” leaders throughout my career who have handled a potentially explosive atmosphere with calmness, tact and maintaining their ability to show empathy and understanding while achieving the outcomes they desired. I have also seen leaders lose their temper and embarrass their team in front of others due to an over-inflated ego and this didn’t achieve the outcome they desired. Personally; I try to model my leadership skills on the first example I mentioned; be a “cool cat” knowing that this is far more likely to achieve the outcome desired than losing control of my emotions.


  • Acts Strategically – a forward thinking and open-minded approach is necessary when leading a team towards a vision. Being flexible and adaptable to new ideas and solutions will future-proof the organisation from lack of innovation. Acting strategically also helps leaders to focus on what matters and what doesn’t; giving us the opportunity to look for better ways of doing things to improve efficiencies and meet the organisations objectives. Again; too often I have seen leaders waste time on small insignificant items that make little to no impact on the broader vision; thinking strategically allows the team to align themselves to what is going to make a difference; keeping the vision, and the team, alive.


  • Effective Communicator – Being able to explain to your team everything from organisational goals to specific tasks is essential. If the team aren’t aware of what is expected of them how can we be disappointed when the task isn’t achieved? Being a multi-level communicator is a great skill to have; adapting tone, language and information to reflect the team member will help the team reach the goal more effectively. Being approachable and involving people from various levels and departments will most certainly help create a more productive work place. Personally; I absorb information best by being shown either in text or visually and then, if necessary, apply this information on a practical level. Other team members may prefer to be hands-on straight away to absorb information. Team members are likely to absorb, process and apply information differently, so it is important leaders recognise this within their teams and adapt information sharing accordingly.


  • Accountable & Responsible – leaders are the overall responsibility owner. If a team member makes a mistake it is the leader that takes ownership of that mistake and identifies how and why the issue occurred and takes steps to repair the error or adapts processes taking from the lessons learnt. There is nothing more soul-destroying than being shamed in front of team members by a manager/leader. The leader needs to self-reflect to see the role they played in the issue that occurred. Mistakes are inevitable, but I believe it is they way they are handled that are our true tests as leaders.


  • A Visionary – good leaders manage change while keeping stability and maintaining growth within their organisation. Change is always occurring; we no longer sit still. continuous improvement are two buzz words that have been thrown around for several years now. However, leaders need to balance this change with day-to-day operations while also keeping a close eye on the ongoing performance. Not an easy task! In my experience visionary leaders are exciting to work with because they keep the momentum going even when the going gets tough. I try to model my own behaviours on this as a leader by regularly reminding team members of the vision, the exciting places that are on the horizon. This helps to create a positive backdrop as the change management process is underway.


  • Manages Complexity – leaders must be problem solvers who can make decisions under rapidly shifting circumstances. Learning to lead in a complex environment is a vital skill for any leader. Effective leaders must assess a situation’s complexity and choose an appropriate course of action.


  • Sets Clear Goals – this is an obvious one and falls directly from the visionary trait. Goals are derived from an organisations strategy and objectives and are the building blocks towards achieving the overall vision. A leader is good at understanding the level of goals depending on the team. A senior management teams goals will look different to a front-line teams; however, they are equally as important.


  • Promotes Teamwork – leaders often use the word “we” instead of I. the reason for this is because they understand the power of a productive team. The MasterMind of achievement lies within a productive team. There is another article here on productive teams.


  • Creative & Innovative – this goes without saying because leaders tend to naturally be creative and innovative. Some of the most successful companies in the world were built in times of recession and depression because the leader saw an opportunity and was creative with  the very little resources they had available to them. I have led teams through some challenging times and we produced amazing results due to the ability to think-outside-the-box. When resources are limited the requirement to be creative and innovative is even more essential.


  • Builds relationships – a leader keeps the organisations purpose, values and mission at the heart of all they do. Building relationships and maintaining positive relationships with both internal and external stakeholders is essential to that mantra. I have come across damaged relationships in the past simply because personal opinion and ego got in the way. Repairing those relationships was relatively easy once personal opinion was set aside; reminding each other that both stakeholders are working towards the same objective, therefore, positive working was the best way forward.


  • Adaptable – the nature of leading a team or an organisation will always require adaptation; whether it be task-related or trait related. It is essential to have the ability as leader to adapt suddenly to changing circumstances and to know how and when to seize on opportunities amid a changing landscape. In addition, having an insatiable curiosity will fuel a leaders desire to constantly learn and grow. Developing critical thinking skills, being accepting of uncertainty, having social and emotional intelligence and always having the desire and determination to push forward will see a leader steer their team towards the organisations objectives.

Let me know what you think makes a good leader in the comments below

Until Next Time



Online Joining – a New Era of Selling

Online Joining – a New Era of Membership Sales

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Sales methods are changing and we need to respond in order to thrive within this competitive online sales environment. We live in the era of “now”. Decisions are made instantly and prospects are driven to “buy now” after seeing something that has inspired them to take action.
The typical membership sales process goes out the window when we apply it to joining online. How can we meet and greet prospects, complete a customer needs analysis and offer a tour of the facility when the prospect is an online faceless purchaser?
Here are some top tips to provide the best sales experience possible online
  1. Sales funnel – inspire them to take action!
    If you have chosen to offer a join online option then the chances are you have digital strategy in place. As part of your digital strategy it’s essential you think about the pre-sales experience, AKA, lead generation.- How are prospects going to find you online?
    – How are you going to inspire prospects to ‘buy now’?
  2. Website & Landing Page – your sales tool
    So your prospect has found your landing page, awesome. Now you need to ensure the online joining experience does what it needs to; leads to a sale- What does your website look like?
    – Does it align with your brand?
    – Is it functional and responsive?
    – Are the ‘sign-up’ steps simple to follow?
    – Does the join online tab feature heavily on your landing page?
  3. Video – the virtual tour
    This is a no-brainer. The prospect wants to see the product. We’ve shifted from in person to online but that doesn’t mean we forget to show the prospect the facilities. Invest in a good quality virtual tour. Allow the prospect to take control of the tour with their cursor so they can view areas of interest to them. They may not want a full 2-minute video when they are keen to see the gym and changing facilities.- Is your video professional looking?
    – Is it responsive?
    – Does it show your facility at it’s best?
    – Is it engaging enough to entice the prospect to take action after viewing?
  4. Lead Page – Capturing your Leads
    Traditionally we would capture leads through the enquiry section of the sales process; however, the enquiry process online has been replaced by visiting your website. Therefore, you need to ensure a lead page is enabled to capture details of prospects who may need a little more time to think about joining.- Ensure your lead page pops-up within a reasonable time frame, say 30 seconds
    – Entice the prospect to leave their details by offering a freebie in exchange for their details
    – Ensure you have an automated flow set up for your database of leads
  5. Automation – you need to be seen to be available 24/7
    So your prospect has watched a video on Facebook, followed the link to your landing page, watched your virtual tour, followed the join online prompts and has purchased a membership…at 2am! Unless you are a robot there is simply no way you can manually keep up with this type of buyer behaviour. So let the robots do their thing!- Set up an automation process to follow immediately after the sale has completed
    – Ensure you have set up abandoned cart in case the buyer didn’t finish their purchase
    – Design your emails to look professional, simple text simply won’t cut it, remember, this is their first impression of you as a NEW MEMBER.
  6. After Sales Care  – Take care of your new member
    This step is so often by-passed regardless of whether the member has joined online or in person. The first 6 months of membership are crucial to the retention of your new member. So ensure you have an intensive follow-up program in place for the first 6 months.
  7. Referrals and Welcome Pack – Your new member is a VIP
    Once you have the member set up within the centre remember to follow your referral and welcoming process just as you would with in person sales. Systems & processes should be in place to ensure these important bonuses aren’t forgotten because the sale was made online.
  8. Retention – ensure they become raving fans of your business
    Even more essential than the buying experience is the customer experience, AKA, retention. The first 6 months should be structured with an intense follow-up process but don’t forget about the ongoing experience. By 6 months you should be aiming for the member to be independent and confident in your facility, but that doesn’t mean forgotten. Ensure you have a robust retention strategy, not just process, in place to continuously improve your member retention.

Check out Otium Planning Group (Sport & Leisure) as an example of a really great landing page; you get the feel for the quality of their service without even needing to move the cursor.

Check out Lifestyle Fitness joining process to see a simple sign-up flow.

If you are thinking about adding ‘join online’ to your sales process please drop me a line as I’d love to support you through that process.

Until next time….


What can we learn from the Disney Customer Experience?

The ultimate customer experience is found at Disney resorts and parks; where millions of $$ have been spent on customer research and improvements. I had the privilege of visiting the Florida one for the first time at the age of 31, dream come true for my son and I!

While enjoying all that Disney had to offer I was absorbing all the little tricks and strategies that Disney had implemented to make the customer experience seamless.

Leisure and Fitness providers should always look outside of their own industry to get ideas on ways to improve the customer experience. Industries such as retail, airline, hospitality and beauty all have some great ways on improving the customer experience.

One of the areas of the leisure customer experience I’ve always disliked (because hate is a strong word!) is the entry.  As soon as you come through to the reception area; one word….barriers. A massive piece of gated equipment saying “you aren’t welcome until you pay or prove you are a member”.

The dread customers, and staff, feel when their card or receipt won’t scan and the anxiety customers and members feel approaching those gates or turnstiles. Ahhhh! Barriers to entry are barriers to exercise, and don’t we have enough challenges with that as it is?

I’ve always thought “there has to be a better way” and a mentor of mine from the past opened up my eyes one day several years ago when he told me he planned to remove the gates at one of the leisure centres that had just been built! I visited said leisure centre in the UK last year, and they were gone! The staff alone I know would’ve been pleased let alone the customers as these gates were an ongoing technical problem most days!

So the challenge we would be faced with if we removed gates and barriers is how to manage payments, visits and access.

This is where retail seem to have it organised pretty well.  They have a customer service desk for exchanges, refunds and customer issues. They have a self-serve area with a member of staff ‘floating’ to help customers and then they have the manned counters for those who don’t want to use self serve.

Think iPads, individual manned counter desks (not huge intrusive barrier creating desks), think floating staff,  think self-serve, think PayPass and fastpay, think prepaid cards, think RFID bands as standard practice or fingerprint scan and you can begin to see where we could go with this.

I’ve seen a leisure facility in the UK operated by Fusion begin to put things in place for this vision; the customer service desk is set away from the self serve and the manned desks,  but there were still turnstiles in place and no ‘floating’ staff, so we as an industry are still not quite brave enough yet – unless there IS an operator out there doing this? If so let me know so I can share this as an innovative practice to my network.

When a new facility is due to open I’d love to see the customer experience put at the forefront of the design; including access, recording visits and taking payments.

Heres an excerpt from an article about how the changes at Disney’s access point came about….

“Officials hope the changes at the Magic Kingdom make it a more welcoming visit: Instead of structures that block people from entering, visitors are simply greeted by a Disney cast member as they walk into the park. Eventually, all guest tickets will be radio-frequency enabled to further expedite the process.

The new ticketing system means that a full family with two strollers and two adults can now go through at the same time — something that was impossible before.

Disney’s use of the iPod touch at its Central Florida resort is similar to what Apple has done at its retail stores, where checkout counters and cash registers are a thing of the past. Instead, employees at Apple’s own stores are also equipped with iPod touches that can be used to finalize a purchase and scan a customer’s credit card.”

To infinity and beyond!

Until next time…