Business insights to benefit your club

Justin Tamsett delivers his snapshot of the key business lessons learnt during the fitness industry’s annual exchange of ideas and information.

FILEX 2013 has come and gone, but in that small window of 96 hours there was enough information to transform your business, enhance your bottom line or launch your new business.

It can actually be quite overwhelming to contemplate the sheer volume of information that can be shared in just four days. I attended more sessions at this year’s FILEX than I have done for years, with an aim of getting an overview of the industry and how business owners and managers are thinking. I work with club managers and owners every day, but the environment at FILEX encourages debate and dialogue between industry peers that can provide a different insight into our industry.

The reality is that the industry is hurting. There is more competition than ever before. There are fewer enquiries than ever before. And members are asking more from their trainers. However, various presenters and sessions at FILEX presented solutions to these challenges.

Space, perception and connection

Rudy Fabiano, a full time designer of health clubs in the US, had many people sit up to listen when he said ‘Your physical space is about creating spaces that will entice and connect to your members on an emotional way to exercise, and inspire non-members to join. The prospective member touring the club has a very different perception factor and experience matrix than that of a current member.’

Powerful insights from Rudy included:

  • There is powerful shift in the world of retail that clubs need to embrace – consumers are looking for an experience when they shop
  • You need to neurologically connect with your prospects and members, so your design must stimulate all the senses in order to get people excited
  • When a member comes to your club the complete 5-point experience is: awaken, inspire, energise, rejuvenate, and relax
  • Your brain takes two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions – this means your foyer or reception are critical to the prospect and the member experience.

Powerful pricing and group training

Rick Mayo from North Point Fitness built on the model-changing example that Thomas Plummer exposed to the industry at FILEX 2012. Rick’s business is a living example of what is possible with powerful pricing and group training.

His business principles are outstanding – and applicable for fitness businesses of any size:

  • Members like consistency and will stay longer and pay longer if they have access to simple workout information
  • Never start any type of group experience without providing the opportunity for every participant to meet every other person in the group
  • Treat every prospect as an individual so that they feel your training program meets their personal needs.

Neuro leadership

An enlightening trend was the degree to which ‘neuro’ information was shared. The expert on this is Paul Taylor, and his sessions on neuro leadership left delegates amazed at what the brain is capable of. When you’re dealing with an organism that is over 400 million years old, there’s a lot to learn about how to speak to, impact, and manage the brain. These sessions really drove home the message that neuro leadership is the future for marketing and for leading people.

Back to basics

In this year’s sessions on marketing, sales and retention the presenters really drove home the need to ‘get back to basics’, a message exemplified by successful business owner Anna-Louise Bouvier. As owners and managers complain about competition, price wars and the commoditisation of fitness, they are losing focus on the need to have 21+ lead-generating activities in their business every month; treating every lead like gold; and doing their utmost to ensure that members stay members forever.

FILEX 2013 was outstanding in terms of networking opportunities and information exchange. However, the real return on investment for delegates now lies in putting what has been learnt into action.


Justin Tamsett
Justin’s 25 years in the fitness industry have given him a deep understanding of the daily challenges faced by club owners. He facilitates the Industry Leaders Roundtable Program for club owners and personal trainers to reduce these ‘pain points’. As the managing director of Active Management, he consults with clubs in customer service, retention and marketing. For business webinars, podcasts, reports and newsletters visit www.ActiveMgmt.com.au and like www.Facebook.com/ActiveManagement.