Sunday, December 16, 2012


Well, hello and welcome to my blog!

This is really pretty weird for me. I'm pushing myself here just a bit, anyone who knows me well knows that writing is not a place I like to spend much time.  But this is important!  I think new discussions need to be started in the fitness industry.  From my perspective the industry is incredibly stale, and it doesn't need to be.  At a time when the grounds for growth in the industry are as fertile as ever, we are standing in a field looking in all direction at miles and miles of sameness.  I've been working as a supplier/provider in the fitness industry now since 1986 and was a consumer of it many years prior to that as an athlete.  In 1984 in grad school at Ohio State I remember making the decision to spend the rest of my life enjoying what I do, studying and teaching the physiology of exercise.  The last 10 years have been increasingly interesting with the meteoric rise in the capabilities of technology and now with my recent decision to create a company that would be a supplier in that space. But when I sit back and look at the industry I live in, it became obvious to me that the issues that need addressed will need more than just a single paper or article.   We need a new conversation.  My objective is to simply provide a different look at our industry and provide an opportunity for an on-going dialog at an industry that is becoming even more important to the lives of all of us.

We all hike!  Some of us hike in the canyons of 5th Avenue in Manhattan or Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Some of us like the pine forests of the Appalachians others the aspens of the Rockies.  Some of us choose to make our livings hiking through the cow pastures of Ohio or walking the wheat fields of the Midwest. While I think back fondly now of the many hikes across our beef cattle farm in southeastern Ohio,  one of my favorite hikes is on the La Luz Trail just outside of Albuquerque New Mexico.  It's 7 miles and 3500 ft of vertical.  When I'm going out to ABQ, I think about, it motivates me, I enjoy it.  The reasons we hike may be different, but we all hike! And even more today than ever, we have to be ready, physically, for the challenges in life. This became spectacularly clear to me in August of 2003. I was teaching a group of physical education teachers in Portage, Michigan. We were discussing the importance of the 1 mile run as a test in phys ed, and I'd said to them that one of my biggest lessons from the events of 9/11 was that we all need to be able to run a mile, if not to save our own lives. Then the next day, the power supply to the northeast corner of the United States failed. When that happened, if you were on the 50th floor of an office building, you needed to be prepared to descend 100 flight of stairs, and walk a mile or three to where someone could pick you up and take you home. That's the kind of hike that made alot of people sick, because they wern't ready for it.  This is why we all need to exercise. To enjoy, to thrive and to survive!

Let's face it, most people don't exercise. Those of us that do, well we're the outliers. But this is no different than other segments of the population. Most of us enjoy a good meal, only some of us enjoy cooking it. , We're all happy when our taxes are done, or our check book is balanced, but only a few of us enjoy the accounting. Exercise is important, but only a few of us enjoy it enough to engage in the process proactively. What we need to understand though is that just because someone doesn't like to exercise, it doesn't mean they can't enjoy it!  Think about that, it's possible to enjoy something you don't like.  I believe the reason most people fail to maintain an adequate exercise program is that when they're training, they're thinking of what this work is taking away from them, weight, fat, stress, and not focusing on what the work is giving them, what the are earning.

There are a couple things I think we as fitness professional have to take responsibility for in our industry. First, our opportunities to help people change their lives are growing stronger every day. Unfortunately, the "fitness facility" business that are the hottest right now are the 24 hour access facilities who have business plans built on elimination of the fitness staff. That doesn't say much about us as professionals and we need to address it.  Secondly, we are not doing a very good job of bringing new users into our fitness systems. Data shows us that the percentage of the general public that has a fitness membership has remained largely the same. Organizationally we're just exchanging memberships, not bringing new people into our facilities as a whole. We love what we do! We need to do a better job of bringing more people into our world. We must expand beyond our current pool of fitness enthusiasts.  We can do this but we have to change, progress, improve.  We can start by not just measuring what is easy, and start measuring what is important.  I think the important things relate to the hikes we all take.  And when we're focused on that, a process many may not like, will start to enjoy!

Why what we're doing at ViA is different

One of the issues that makes us different goes straight to our mission statement, Professionals, making fitness enjoyable, so people will do it, and achieve!  ViA is an organization built around creating successful exercisers.  Our business plan is built around it. This is how we will measure our success.  We believe the industry needs this perspective.  Most of the fitness industry measures it's success by the number of pieces of equipment sold, memberships sold, personal training session sold.  The drive to sell the next big thing in equipment has manufacturers driving features designed to distract the user from the task at hand   I believe we're missing the point.  There is virtually nothing today pushing these companies and membership mills to go back to their customers and ensure their success.  Having been part of these organizations, I understand their need to constantly look for the next customer.  In building ViA though, I've chosen a different path!

In the coming weeks I will write and video blog about issues like Work: What is it and why should you care, A different look at strength, Is your facility a fitness factory, warehouse, or boutique. The psychology of enjoyment and the difference between enjoyment, happiness and pleasure. I'll spend some time talking about our fitness pyramid and how this model presents a very democratic model for those who aren't in our market yet, to find a process that can fit their lives.

My hope is that we can connect, and through the power we have together, lead the fitness business to show the answers to the questions of Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness.



I read/listen to several blogs and podcasts on a weekly basis and have always wanted to support them and spread the word.  I  really enjoy a blog I've subscribed to for quite a while now and really look forward to seeing it in my email on Sunday mornings.  Bob Tschannen-Moran and it's there where we found our definition of fitness, the physical capacity to enjoy the life we're given.  I get two great pod casts, one from Dr. Joesph Mitchelli and one from Dr. Monte Ladner.  Mitchelli's the author of The Starbucks Experience and The New Gold Standard.  You can find his podcast on itunes or at his web site  Dr. Mitchelli is a must listen for me and if your passionate about customer experience, you should drink everything he pours.  Dr. Ladner has a site called and his tag line is "A podcast that what's to change the health of the world."  Who can't get excited about that!

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