Club Insider

Innovation - Disruption - Progression

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Bill McBrideBill McBride

I love listening to all of the discussion about "disruption" in our industry. In my opinion, much of it is conjecture, but I also believe there are many disruptive forces that are affecting our industry. We need to adopt new technologies to better serve our clients and remain a sustainable and viable option for our consumers. We must also be careful not to mistake change for growth.

We all know the history of innovation creating obsolescence: the horse and buggy, travel agencies, video stores, pay phones and the list goes on and on.

For a long time, I have tried to predict what will change in the future. This has proven to be somewhat of a fool-hearted endeavor. Who could have guessed trends like CrossFit, where many operators create their club from a garage, are able to charge a premium for this experience. It is one thing to admit we do not know the future, but if we are blind to new trends and technologies, we run the risk of becoming obsolete. When we look at the "disruptive" innovation in our industry, it has not been driven by technology. All things considered, it has been based on serving unmet needs in the marketplace, and at times, technology has had a role to play.

There hasn't been a lot of disruption in our industry that can be directly attributed to technology. Most disruption has been innovative... based on progression. This is not to say there won't be in the future, and of course there are a limited amount of exceptions. For instance, Peloton (, is a truly disruptive technology changing the way people consume fitness. I know there are other "on demand" and virtual fitness offerings out there, but Peloton is the first piece of commercial grade equipment with a scientific, interactive user interface creating a great user experience, which in turn, has created a community of zealots. It is a game changer. It is still virtual and won't meet the needs of socialization around other humans, but it solves the problem of proximity, something a health club cannot do. That is disruption.

How many health clubs/gyms have added 2 - 4 Peloton Bikes in private areas for members who like virtual fitness and don't want to be in a live class? It might not be a bad idea. A member who loves this but also wants other attributes of your club/gym might stay and not quit. Embracing new versus denying or ignoring is going to be a key to progression. This goes for all virtual fitness offerings.

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