Thriving in Uncertainty


“A pessimist complains about the wind; an optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

-William Arthur Ward

Right now, there’s no denying that the Active Leisure sector is seeing a significant shift. The industry as we know has undergone more change in just the last 12 months – the rise of the fat burning pill, wearable technology, and personalisation – than we’ve seen in the last 20 years. And, going forwards, we’re likely to see more and more.

But how do you prepare for a future that’s so uncertain? How do you identify and integrate the emerging trends that are going to make the biggest impact? There’s no ‘one size fits all solution’ but there are methods of approaching your future business strategy that will help you to navigate what lies ahead.

Earlier this month at the Lifetime Training Fitness Director’s Summit 2014 we spent time with some of the industry’s key personnel to review the state of the industry today and plan ahead for the years to come.

Making sense of the current landscape

Before you can develop your future plans, you need to review where the industry’s at right now. Do you recognise the trends that are having the biggest impact on your members and understand the possibilities they present for your business? Take wearable devices for example; the Apple Watch is the latest wearable technology that aims to bring a smartphone’s functionality closer to the body. These new technologies represent a user’s need for a personal experience and fitness regime, but does your business really make the most of the data? Do you have people on the gym floor that use them and know how to work with them? Do you actively work with the emerging technologies used by your customers or do you let these initiatives operate independently?

Imagining the future

While it’s important to grasp opportunities here and now, you need to keep one eye on how things might play out in the future in order to adapt your business model to suit. The Internet of Things for example will mean that all devices talk to one another; from our fridge freezer to our mobile; our car to our TV. How can you make your facilities, your equipment work in that world? What would you need to make that happen?

Impact and probability

It’s not enough to come up with a list of what could happen. You need to prioritise in order to make the leaders of your organisation sit up and take notice. Score your thoughts in terms of high impact, low impact and certain, uncertain. With this methodology you can group what trends you feel are certain to continue and likely to have a large impact on your business, versus those less certain and of little consequence. These are the ones that should take precedence over any others that you might want to develop.

Don’t just do what you’ve always done…

…because you’ll always get what you’ve always got. Greater things can be achieved if you swim against the current rather than just going with the flow. This course of action usually incurs risk but it’s often worth it. Often we don’t look outside our own pond for inspiration but that’s what is sometimes needed to be competitive and industry leading. Try mixing things up and look to other industries for inspiration. What challenges did they face and what were the solutions that really took off? How might you go about replicating that for fitness?


For more insight into developing a workforce that will help your business thrive in challenging times, see us at in the VIP lounge at LIW 2014. One thing is for certain; the coffee is on us!

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