Perspective features the opinions of prominent figures in the fitness industry. Here, educator and entrepreneur Matt Church urges us to break out of our comfort zones in order to make a difference to more lives.

Step outside the fitness industry and you will be amazed at what a different world it is. Each year the keynote speaker at FILEX, often a friend of mine, shares with me how amazing it is to be part of the event. They see, for perhaps the first time, a phenomena you and I may take for granted. It’s this phenomena that makes qualified lawyers give up the legal profession and become fitness professionals. It’s the same phenomena that can change relationships when one partner joins the industry and the other does not. There is a zest, a state of positivity, a ‘light’ that does not shine in other industries.

Once you’ve bathed in this light, it’s hard to return to the shadows. My question is, what are we doing with this light? How are we using this energy to make a bigger difference, a greater contribution and, as a result, gain the benefits that this impact produces?

The harsh reality is that participation rates have changed very little in the past two decades. The percentage of the community that are members of clubs, for example, has remained fairly static at about 10 per cent or less. If we are to truly make an impact, we need to move out of our comfort zone of classes and sessions and explore how we make the light shine in dark places. In other words, to make a difference you need to have the courage to explore the unknown. I believe this is the single greatest challenge facing fitness professionals.

My first experience of stepping out of the light was a shock to my system. It was 1989 and I was booked for my first health and wellbeing presentation at a life insurance conference. I felt like a total rockstar – I was being paid $250 and my flight to Adelaide was covered. In my mind, I had hit the big time. I was meticulous in my session preparation, I purchased brand new fluoro pink taslon shorts and jacket, wore brand new bright white Reebok pumps, and had done the requisite three sessions in the club solarium. I know, it was the ‘80s and I was young and dumb.

I should have known something was wrong when I saw half of the 180 delegates smoking outside the room before my keynote. The suit of choice was grey, and if I’d listened more closely I would have heard the derisive sniggers as I walked into the room. As I exploded onto the stage, my opening line ‘Who loves life?’ was met by a collective snear of disdain, and one guy in the front row muttered ‘sit down you flaming poof’. It was a baptism of fire, but it actually served to inflame my passion for sharing the light that the fitness industry enjoys every day.

So, how do we spread the infectious energy of our industry? We need to tap into exciting experiences that have the power to move people – and make people move.

Maybe we can learn from the stunning class numbers across New Zealand where thousands of people get up at the crack of dawn to experience a high energy jolt of charisma and personality, delivered with ‘Mana’ at Les Mills clubs.

Perhaps we need to look to the impact of television shows that sensationalise and shock the overweight into action, while also generating debate over the abuse of correct training methods. Love them or loathe them, there are lessons to be learned.

Maybe we need to understand the motivational power of experience-centred travel, exemplified by teams of middle-aged housewives turning their bucket lists into body transformations as they train to trek to Base Camp on Mount Everest.

However we do it, one thing is clear: to help more people get fit by breaking out of their comfort zones, we need to break out of ours.

Matt Church
Matt is Australia’s foremost authority on Thought Leadership. Obsessed with helping individuals, organisations and businesses to be commercially smart, he founded Thought Leaders Global, an international business that educates people on the powers of Thought Leadership. A prolific author and serial entrepreneur, Matt draws upon his extensive experience to help people bring out greatness not just in themselves, but also in others.