// The future is green

by Phillip Mills

Going green is essential to the health of our planet. However, investing in green initiatives in your club can also grow your potential for acquisition and retention. ‘Greening’ your club can improve relationships with your facility’s community and grow your market because consumers are attracted to businesses that are trying to make a positive difference. The green trend has become a serious business opportunity for clubs that want to attract more members and increase member loyalty.

We are running out of resources, from fossil fuels to water, from farmable land to fish in the oceans. In the process,
we are producing pollution and waste that threaten to make our world uninhabitable. And in the long term, this is not very good for business in the fitness, or any other, industry. When I give seminars at fitness industry conventions, such as FILEX in Sydney and IHRSA in the US, I often ask delegates what they see as the biggest threat to the fitness industry.
Most answers include ‘the financial crisis’, ‘economic recession’ or ‘excessive competition’. But these very real
challenges are dwarfed in comparison to that of global warming and other sustainability issues that could potentially
lead to much bigger problems.

I believe the fitness industry can take ownership in the world’s sustainability crisis by leading a global change that
will see the world’s population working on its own fitness and health for the health of our planet.

I am so passionate about the issue that I have co-authored a book on the subject with my wife, Dr Jackie Mills.
Fighting Globesity is a practical guide that explores the relationship between personal fitness, national health
systems and global sustainability. I believe the fitness industry can make a real difference, using the power of its networks and combining its collective voice with those of likeminded groups. It also has a responsibility to be an advocate for
holistic health in the broadest sense.

As I see it, there are four major ways in which the fitness industry can contribute. Firstly, we can become advocates. The fitness industry is already waging war on diseases and health problems related to obesity and inactive lifestyles. We are helping individuals and governments save huge amounts of money normally spent on chronic illnesses. We need
to be advocating that that money is invested in the future, for example on initiatives to reduce pollution or subsidies for sustainable energy programs. By helping people improve and sustain their health by getting behind the green initiative, we can start winning the battle.

Secondly, we can create green mission statements for all our members to see. By creating a green mission, fitness clubs can become warriors in the battle against inactivity and over-consumption. Les Mills New Zealand’s mission, for example, is to significantly improve the lives of New Zealanders, and that purpose is at the heart of everything each and every staff member does, every day.

Thirdly, we can green our facilities. In response to looming sustainability issues, the chain of 10 Les Mills New Zealand clubs has done a full green audit and created an implementation plan for the recommendations that came out of it. A number of green initiatives have already been put in place in eight of the clubs, including intelligent lighting controls with smart sensors that switch off lights when there is sufficient daylight or areas are unoccupied. High-efficiency boilers,
best practice insulated pipework and pumps have replaced outdated and inefficient hot water systems. A number of the gyms have changed to water-efficient shower heads, and to further tackle energy consumption and reduce CO2 emission, the plan is to move to water-efficient shower heads, tapware and dual flush toilets across the board.

To capture energy that normally goes down the drain, heat exchangers that can recover and reuse up to 30 per cent
of heat energy from shower water are also being installed in many of the chain’s clubs.

The great news is that the return on investment is unbelievable. The estimated energy savings from the first round of initiatives for Les Mills New Zealand is NZ$121,500 per year and the payback period is currently projected to be less than 11 months. But whether going green has positive economic effects or not, the risk of the alternative is unthinkable.

Finally, we can grow our future by engaging with more members on an issue that’s increasingly important to them. I
urge everybody – individuals, businesses and governments – to start thinking about the sustainability crisis and take action now. We need to keep the big picture in perspective. This economic crisis will pass, but our ecological problems will
lead to a far greater catastrophe if we don’t take sufficient steps. There is a future out there that is worth fighting for.
My suggestion is to do what you can, at the greatest speed you can afford. We all make hundreds of decisions that affect
the planet every day, often unconsciously. By developing our knowledge around eco-sustainability, we start to make the
right choices, contributing to the enormous effort necessary to save the planet. Most of the actions have multiple benefi ts
– they will contribute to making our planet healthier and will also improve your life and make your business stronger.

Phillip Mills
Phillip is president of Les Mills International (LMI) and a fitness industry pioneer. A driving force behind the modern group fitness experience, Phillip developed the exercise-to-music system that evolved into the seven group fitness programs currently distributed by LMI in over 50 countries. He also developed the Les Mills Group Fitness Management system that supports the Les Mills program in clubs.

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