Club Insider

Pain + Reflection = Progress

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Michael GelfgotMichael Gelfgot

Ray Dalio, one of the most successful investors and entrepreneurs, wrote a book called, Principles. In his book, Ray shares unconventional principles that he's developed and used for forty years to run his business and work with people. Although there are many principles that I could talk about, this principle hits the mark in terms of the current state of the fitness business.

Today, 20% of the population is a member of a gym, but gyms are opening at a faster rate than members are joining. More and more money is coming in from private equity groups. As a result of the fitness business maturing in the marketplace, there are a ton of gyms that aren't doing well and looking to close their doors. One of the reasons this might be happening is that these gyms aren't taking the time to reflect or there might be something more painful for that business than closing their doors. According to Ray, the only way you are going to progress is the threshold of pain needs to be high enough for you to take the time to reflect.

Here is how my business partners and I applied Ray Dalio's principle: In 2015, my business partners and I were operating 21 gyms. In most people's eyes, we were crushing it. Year over year, our business was growing. Life was great... until it wasn't. We had a low-price competitor move into our market, and when we looked at our numbers for that club year over year, they were down significantly. A question lingered in our minds: If this happens in every market, how long do we have before we suffocate? Our stomachs turned, and we felt nauseated. We experienced some interesting signs of complete, total stress. We were in pain.

We got productively paranoid and started questioning the status quo of our business, particularly on the personal training part of the business. There were four questions we came up with that we didn't know the answer to:

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