Beware of Public Image
Ronale Tucker Rhodes
If something isn't done soon to clean up the public image of the fitness facility industry, I fear that the lack of growth in membership numbers will continue. Our industry is getting increased attention about its lack of care for its members. This attention is showing up everywhere — on the Internet and in the press. And, it comes down to one issue: customer care. The public's perception is that health clubs simply don't care enough about their members to serve and protect them.
My local newspaper today ran a story titled "Car Burglars Get Own Workouts in Gym Parking Lots." The story centered on one woman, Marla Leinio, who left her purse, with her engagement ring in it, inside her car while she went inside the facility to work out, only to return to find her car window smashed and her purse gone.
Both fitness center operators and local law enforcement officers testified in the article to the rampant thefts of valuables from cars in fitness facility parking lots. In fact, one Riverside Police Department officer, named Steve Frasher, even "met with various gym managers just before Christmas of 2006" to discuss the problem. "We made a pitch to the gyms about hiring private security guards," Frasher said. "Most of them took up on the suggestion and really had quite an impact."
But, not all heed such advice. Lieutenant Ross Cooper of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's station in Norco, Calif., contacted LA Fitness management about the number of thefts in its parking lot, and urged them to place more surveillance cameras in its parking area and to add a stronger security presence. "Unfortunately, they have been resistant to do so," Cooper said.
Theft is only one of the complaints about fitness centers, and it is only one of the items in the article "10 Things Your Fitness Club Won't Tell You," which is posted on AOL's Money & Finance page (now stored in its archives), and which is not complimentary to fitness centers at all. Here is a sampling of the 10 things:
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