Rob Bishop
Rob Bishop is the co-owner of Elevations Health Club in Scotrun, Pa. His award-winning health club column debuted in the March 2010 issue of Athletic Business, with partner Barry Klein, and Rob has been a regular contributor ever since. You can hear insight from Rob in person at the Athletic Business Conference & Expo where he's been a speaker since 2007.
  • Thursday, August, 15, 2019
    Rob Bishop Reflects on Favorite AB Contributions

    I sneaked into the back of an Orange County Convention Center conference room to check out a couple of speakers I had yet to experience at the Athletic Business Conference (now AB Show). At the front of the room, already in the middle of their session, were a pair of independent health club owners from Scotrun, Pa. Looking somewhat alike, at least from the ears up, they referenced their mutual baldness with self-effacing ease. But Rob Bishop and Barry Klein were different than other health club experts — mostly because they'd be the last people to seek that label.

  • Thursday, August, 01, 2019
    Rob Bishop Closes Elevations Health Club

    This will be my final column for Athletic Business. I'd like to thank all of you who have read and supported this column. You're the reason the column exists. I've heard from so many of you during the past few months. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to reach out to me. It's incredibly humbling and gratifying to know that so many of you have enjoyed what we have written over the years.

  • Monday, June, 17, 2019
    Rob Keeps His Club Doors Open as He Seeks a Buyer

    As we headed into 2018, I actually started to think that it might be possible to save the business. I had made the first few payments under the bankruptcy repayment plan that had been approved by the court. We could now be "discharged" from bankruptcy. So long as we could continue to make our monthly payments to repay the debt, we could operate just like any other business. The $30,000 in attorney fees and court costs we had paid out over the past year and a half would go back into the business.

  • Thursday, May, 16, 2019
    Rob Turns to Bankruptcy in Hopes of Saving His Club

    It's April 2016. My business partner has left the business and I've taken over as managing partner. That's a fancy term for the guy stuck with all the problems. Over the past few years, the financial position of my company deteriorated to the point we might actually go out of business — something that had previously been unthinkable.

  • Thursday, April, 25, 2019
    Financial Issues Confront Elevations Health Club

    Years ago, I used to read Inc. Magazine. It was for and about small businesses. One of my favorite columns was "Obituary," which looked at small businesses that had failed. It tried to examine why they failed and how they might have survived.

  • Tuesday, January, 08, 2019
    Lessons From a Quarter Century in the Fitness Business

    I've been in the fitness business for more than a quarter-century — most of my adult life — and I thought the start of a new year might be a good time to take a look back and see how this industry of ours has impacted me personally. I've come away with at least eight lessons learned.

  • Thursday, December, 13, 2018
    Fitness Pros on Front Lines of Obesity Fight

    I recently read an article analyzing the obesity epidemic from the perspective of several overweight individuals who agreed to share their painful experiences.

  • Monday, October, 29, 2018
    Four Tips for Helping Employees Exit Gracefully

    When a new member signs up at our club, we are careful to go over our cancellation policy. Why do we do this? Because when they join, they don't think they will ever quit. But we know better. The same is true of employees. When someone first comes to work for you, they never think about leaving. But just like any business, turnover comes with the health club territory. How are they going to handle it when it's time to move on to something bigger and potentially better?

  • Tuesday, September, 25, 2018
    Customer Service Challenges Take Many Forms

    A few months ago, a video of an irate member destroying the front desk area of a Planet Fitness location went viral. When I saw the video, I just laughed — because it wasn't my club she was trying to dismantle. But what really caught my eye was the staff members who were also visible in the video. They just stood there calmly and watched. What else could they do besides call the police?

  • Thursday, August, 23, 2018
    How the Club Market Continues to Change

    A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend who owns a small chain of very successful paint and wallpaper stores in my area. He said, "Even with all of the experience I've gained over the past 20 years, I'd never open an independent paint store in today's market." I was surprised by this comment, as I know he really loves what he does.

  • Wednesday, April, 30, 2014
    Blog: Does Wearable Fitness Have Legs?

    Wearable fitness tracking technology is the future!

    Such excitement was so early-2014. We saw articles in The Wall Street Journal that described how corporate CEOs were big users of wearables and how they were competing against each other to see who could sleep better or walk more. BusinessWeek ran a story earlier this year that discussed the possibility — the likelihood? — of wearables putting gyms out of business. The New York Times ran a piece two weeks ago today about how wearables were being used in gyms.

  • Thursday, June, 27, 2013
    Blog: Why Calling 'Obesity' a 'Disease' Is So Troubling

    Jerry Seinfeld does a bit during which he discusses topics that make people whisper. Cancer is one of them. "Did you hear about Bill? He has (whispering) cancer."

  • Monday, May, 20, 2013
    Blog: SoulCycle Lawsuit Could Hurt Fitness Industry

    The recently filed class-action lawsuit against the indoor cycling chain SoulCycle for allegedly violating California and New York wage laws could have a huge impact on the health and fitness industry. We're fascinated by it and are watching to see how it progresses. The complaint, filed by a former SoulCycle instructor, claims that SoulCycle instructors - who are paid only for the classes they teach - are "required to work above and beyond the time instructing a class." Their duties include training, preparation, communication with customers, meetings, special-event classes and assisting with marketing.

  • Friday, April, 19, 2013
    Blog: After a Sad Week, Count Your Blessings

    "This is just like New Orleans."

    In the wake of the tragedy in Boston this week, we were reminded of that quote from 2005. It came from one of our health club members and is seared into our brains. And it reminds us never to become the kind of people who would say that. Such a statement colors our opinion of customer service and how we respond to difficult situations.

  • Wednesday, February, 27, 2013
    Blog: 'Low-Price' Doesn't Necessarily Equal 'High-Value'

    So, who started putting the words "high value" after "low cost" when describing health clubs that we all know and love (and we hate) as the "low-cost providers"?

  • Monday, February, 18, 2013
    Blog: Calling All Catch-Phrase Professionals!

    If there is one area of our business that we know is deficient, it is this - our catch phrases.

    They're getting better. Can you guess what we used to call our new member introductory program that provided three workouts with a trainer, a fitness evaluation and a free consultation with a nutritionist? We called it "our new member introductory program that provides three workouts with a trainer, a fitness evaluation and a free consultation with a nutritionist." We were nothing if not descriptive.

  • Wednesday, April, 13, 2011
    Blog: Zumba's Great - Just Not for Us

    We're going to come right out and say it, and then go hide behind something sturdy in anticipation of the response.