We enjoy writing for Athletic Business because we can share the unvarnished truth about our lives as owners of for-profit health clubs. What we think of as "unvarnished" has been interpreted by some AB readers as negativity; they think that we don't care at all for our members, our staff or the fitness business in general.
Nothing could be further from the truth! While we certainly don't enjoy every minute of every day - who does? - we love this industry. We've always felt that if we could make a living while improving the lives of people in our community, then we'd have a real win-win business. As we approach our 16th anniversary as owners, we still feel that way, even though we often wonder where the profit part has gone.
So, here are our Top 10 Reasons We Like Owning a Gym:
1. The members who have transformed themselves, lost weight, cured ailments and, in general, improved their quality of life because our gym exists.
2. Being able to work out alone when the gym is closed, music blaring.
3. Developing young staff people who go on to bigger and better things. One of our great moments was meeting the boss of one of our former employees on a trade show floor. He could not have been more impressed with how prepared this young lady was for her new job. The credit was all hers, but we were proud to have helped.
4. Taking drinks out of the cooler when nobody is watching. The staff has to pay. We don't. We already paid for them.
5. Growing the business and solving problems. We especially enjoy learning about other people's ideas, applying those ideas to our business and developing something uniquely ours.
6. The freedom to come and go without always feeling like we have jobs. Sometimes, that's a problem in a small business like ours, because our staff might assume that they can behave like us - they weren't up working until 2 a.m. - but it's a perk we enjoy.
7. Trade shows! We learn, we meet people, we see equipment and, at the Athletic Business Conference, we have the honor of presenting some talks. They also represent a week away from the grind.
8. The characters we meet. We really think we should be featured in a reality show. No Hollywood writer could create the cast of characters that have come and gone through our business over the years.
9. Running the business the right way. We're not perfect, but we try to do the right thing when dealing with members, vendors, corporate customers and staff members. Not everyone in our industry does that. We try.
10. Sixteen years of laughter. We don't think we'll be as close with our staff in future years as we have been in the past. We're getting older. Some of them are young enough to be our children. But up until now, there have been a lot of late nights out, Christmas parties and the occasional adult beverage. Let's just not discuss the Barry-in-thong-heading-to-the-hot-tub incident from Christmas 1999, okay?
Sure, there might be a negative counterpoint to each of these, but it's our anniversary. Here's to the good stuff!