Networks editor, Oliver Kitchingman, recently had the pleasure of interviewing Peter Stirling-Benson, the new managing director of Fitness First Australia. In what turned out to be quite a lengthy chat, he came back with some very interesting information from the market leader. Some industry specific highlights include:
In his answer to Oli's question regarding the recent negative media attention that Fitness First has received, Peter states: "Regarding the recent headlines (when one member tried unsuccessfully to sue Fitness First over the issue of breaking contract), I see it this way; We have over two million visits per month from our members at Fitness First; so two million times a month, members are voting with their feet and enjoying what we off er. If the media want to go and find a disgruntled member or ex-member of Fitness First, like any organisation of our size, they will find that person."
A fantastic question from Oli was whether or not Fitness First would reintroduce the role of the Gym Instructor, to help support the first time members as they came into the club. Peter's answer was:
"The short answer to that question is, yes! I think that it’s absolutely something that I’m looking at in the context of the relationship and rapport we want to have with our members. Exercise is challenging for a large percentage of the population and for a new member, walking into a club can be an intimidating experience, so we need to address that. We offer a broad range of services and each and every member needs to be very comfortable and confident about what we have to offer. It is also important that as they grow in experience they use the facilities in a proactive way that engenders continued improvement."
And finally Peter's thoughts on how the current tough economic times will affect Fitness First and the industry at large:
"I think typically, the fitness industry is relatively robust in tougher economic times. Anyone who argues that their health is a luxury, I think should ask themselves again!"
To view the full interview between Oliver and Peter Stirling Benson, click here.
Great interview Network, fantastic insight into the new powers-to-be at Fitness First. I hope to see some changes into the current practices as they would not only benefit themselves but the industry in general.