Resources Library

ePublication of Australian Fitness Network

What would I do differently now?

A simple question prompts business coach Justin Tamsett to identify the key areas that fitness business operators must focus on in order to survive and thrive in the years ahead.

‘Thirty years ago when I started in the fitness industry, things were very different’ is a statement that I never thought I would say. It never occurred to me, back in the late 1980’s, that my job as a gym instructor would lead to a 30-year career, and I didn’t consider the possibility that the industry could change so much.

The reality is that innovation is inevitable in business. If you don’t innovate then you will fall like a ripened apple from the tree and then begin to rot.
I was recently asked what I would do differently if I were opening a gym or studio today, knowing what I do now about the industry and the evolution of our product. After some consideration, I identified three things that I believe fitness businesses absolutely must do to survive and thrive:

Stay ahead of the industry

The key to the success of any business is to stay ahead of the industry curve. Once something becomes a trend, everyone is catching that wave and you are too late to be different. To be unique, you need to see that trend coming, assess its relevance to your business model and then either run with it or let it pass you by.
You need to be continually looking to get better. You can do this through researching, reading, listening to podcasts, attending educational events and speaking with others. You will get the greatest benefit to your business by stepping out of the business to learn from others. This simple strategy will help you remove road blocks in your mindset and your business, and lead to growth. A business leader with a vision for the future will attract the best in the industry to work with them.

Embrace technology

As an industry, many currently believe the definition of technology is Facebook advertising. While this is certainly a component of embracing technology, it is not the full gambit. There are so many facets to ‘technology’ – and they needn’t be scary.
Technology will make running your business easier, more efficient and more effective. Without technology, you are simply challenging yourself in areas you do not need to. Seriously, there is an app for this and that, and your data can help you make the right strategic business moves. The days of making decisions based on gut instincts are gone. Your members have embraced technology and so must you. Personalisation from segmentation based on the data you have will be the key to your business success.

Spend more time with your people

The greatest asset in any business is its people. It doesn’t matter if they are face-to-face with the customer, or replying to emails from disgruntled members, your people will influence the relationship members have with your business. If your people are happy, respected and know they are having an impact, they will benefit your business, whereas if they aren’t, they will sabotage your business, even subconsciously. I believe that no matter how many staff you have in your team, something as simple as having a one-on-one cup of coffee with each of them every four to six months will go a long way to cementing a caring and trusting relationship.
As business owners, we face choices every day. However, the biggest choice you have to make as a leader is whether you will be an apple on that tree continuing to grow, or a fallen fruit in gradual decay.
Justin has created The Fitness Industry Technology Summit, which will take place at Sydney’s Darling Harbour on 25-26 July. Focusing on the role of technology in enhancing both member acquisition and retention, Network Members can SAVE $100 on attending the Summit by simply entering the discount code ‘network’ when registering at

Justin Tamsett

The Managing Director and business coach at Active Management, JT’s three decades in the fitness industry have encompassed roles from personal trainer and salesperson, to facility manager and multi-club owner. An international presenter, Justin specialises in making non-industry content highly applicable to the fitness industry. / /

Member Only Content