The One Thing Fitness Pros Need to Know About Culture & Morale

Let me tell you a story…

As you may know, I used to work as a fry cook at Disneyland’s Carnation Café. That’s the place on Main Street people love to visit, maybe order a steak or a nice coffee, and watch the fireworks brighten the night sky.

Now, I worked on the less glamorous side of that café, specifically, on the line in the kitchen. Boy was it a madhouse in there!

Let me tell you: when business would pick up, we were in a frenzy, man. I mean people were dropping steaks on the ground, we were mixing up orders, the whole schabang.

If you’ve ever been in the restaurant business, you know exactly what I’m talking about…

Now, we had two managers that would visit us in the kitchen on occasion. Sure enough, they loved coming when things were busiest.

Their names were Doug and Kathy. Man, were they complete opposites!

Actually, they’re the reason I decided to become an entrepreneur myself.

See, whenever Kathy came by, it was always about attention to detail. That’s great and all, but she took it to an extreme…

Any facial hair I forgot to shave? She made me leave work—mind you, in the busiest time of the night—to go across the street to the locker rooms to shave.

Pants slightly untucked? She’d make you get off the grill and tidy up.

You can imagine how poor team morale was when she was around. In fact, a lot my coworkers would start working slower just to spite her, which wasn’t good for business.

Now Doug, he was different. We’d be in the slumps, stumbling over each other to get food on the plate in time.

Doug always wanted to remind us that we were doing a great job. He’d ask all of us what was going right that day.

Now THAT got the ball rolling…

We began to focus on the positives. We busted our butts because we didn’t want to let Doug, or his vision for our guests, down.

Kathy was all about systems and order. Yet even though she got everyone to follow the rules, we still worked without passion, and the quality of our service suffered because of it.

On the other hand, Doug was all about making us feel better. As a result, we pushed out meals in record time because there was purpose behind our work.

That’s when I realized that culture is a byproduct of morale. Most people think it’s the other way around.

So, what do systems do?

Naturally, you’d think that the systems and rules you put into your fitness business are what determine the morale of your team (and, subsequently, the amount of leads and sales your team produces).

That ain’t the case, man!

PEOPLE spin the wheels of business. Whether you’re a big box gym owner, a boot camp owner, a nutritional coach, or whatever you might be, you can’t forget that.

Of course, systems need to be in place in your business. Who’d want to work out at a gym where the trainers are overweight, the place smells like garbage, and the workouts lack any type of structure?

That’s the role of systems: to maintain EVERYTHING pertaining to your business to the standards you set.

Those systems are useless without people though, and how well those systems run depends on the morale of your team…

Let’s Talk About Ed

Let’s say a boot camp owner named Ed has a trainer who is constantly late to work. Maybe he engages with clients a little less than Ed would like him to. Ed asks him to do something, and he does the bare minimum amount of work to get the job done.

Look at the problem on a deeper level. WHY is he so unwilling to work hard? WHY does it always look like he’d rather be anywhere else other than at Ed’s gym?

Then it clicks for Ed…his whole team acts the same way!

There’s no chemistry between any of his staff. He barely introduced them to each other when they started. He’s made no effort to plan team bonding exercises. Each person just clocks in, collects a paycheck, and clocks out.

His business then suffers because his systems are being run by uninspired people.

His clients get subpar service because he can’t get it together.

Now what if, just like Doug, you took a few minutes each day to compliment each of your team members? What if you made every employee read and sign a contract that outlines your vision, why you want to help people lose weight and be happier, and why they play such an important role in that vision?

You’d see his team come together in ways you’d never expected.

Your trainers start to notify the front desk assistant when members are missing from class so she can warmly greet them the next time they come in.

Without you knowing, your training staff comes together to implement a rewards system that gives out free supplements, free months of class, or free trips to the local nail salon, only to their top-performing clients. (Which makes your best clients feel like VIPs and inspires all the rest to work harder and stick around for their chance to win).

Your assistant discovers a few creative ways to reorganize your budget to save you money for better equipment.

All of these people went that extra mile because they had purpose behind their work. They wanted to help your company grow. They enjoyed working with the people around them.

Their morale established a culture of quality service, top-notch training, and positivity. THAT’S what your clients really want when they search for a gym to call home…

You begin to see prospects lining up at the door to train with your staff, many of whom came as referrals when they heard how awesome your place was.

We all know what that means: you make more money and you help more people.

The Bottom Line

If you want your team to go the extra mile for you, man, you’ve gotta go ten extra miles for them…

Put yourself in their shoes. How can you motivate them to eat, sleep, and breathe for your business? How can you make it so your training is their favorite thing to talk about around friends and family?

Before you tell your trainers, and your assistant, and any other team members what to do, get them to understand WHY they’re doing it. And make sure that they feel as capable—and as supported— to get their stuff done as they can be.

I promise you, your business, your staff, your clients, your community, EVERYONE around you is gonna benefit from it.

Committed to your success,

Bedros