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Remaining Relevant Requires Change

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Stephen TharrettStephen Tharrett

George Bernard Shaw said, "Progress is impossible without change," to which he added, "those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." The moral of this quote is that progress, and possibly equally importantly, the avoidance of extinction and obsolescence requires cultures, organizations and individuals to change. Today, more than any other time in the health and fitness club industry's lifecycle, club operators are faced with a socioeconomic and cultural environment where consumers dictate what businesses need to do to remain relevant and where those proclamations can swing overnight. The marketplace for health and fitness continues to evolve, driven by a variety of cultural, demographic and psychographic variables.


Mark WilliamsonMark Williamson

Over the past five years, the industry has seen the emergence of new business models that have disrupted the "old way" of doing business, not to mention the emergence of new avenues of communication that defy the forms of messaging that have come to define our industry. In response to these alterations in the marketplace, the industry has tried to change, but as a whole, the changes have been more window dressing than earth shattering. Undress these "innovative" business models and heralded new approaches to communication and you find that not much has really changed. The Emperor has new clothes, but his beliefs appear to remain fully intact. The challenge that faces our industry, and every business that calls this industry home, is: "Are we ready to change our beliefs about how the business needs to be run, and can we toss old habits aside and adopt new ones?" We believe that a large number of health and fitness club operators are ready to adapt, possibly even undergo revolutionary change in order to progress and thrive. As always, the difficult part comes when the desire to change, even the need for change, is met by the nearly immovable force of human nature.

In this article, our goal is to provide insight into the process of change, particularly those areas that often present the greatest challenge to leaders when they embark on change.

The Process of Change

There are multiple models of change, but possibly the most well-known, and one of the most effective at guiding change is the model that was developed by Dr. John Kotter. His model involves eight steps, which are as follows:

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