Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Anytime Fitness: A Case Study in Greed and Insecurity Overshadowing Good Business Sense


The Fitness Scene is bursting at it seams across the world, India ofcourse is no exception. But the kind of competition it has brought in an entirely 'business minded' community like India is grossly unhealthy for the business itself. Despite a heavy surge in the industry, we are seeing more gyms open and close on a continuous basis. The concept of passing the ball of risk from the franchiser to the franchisee is all the more common in India due to the laws being lax and an understanding of the business not being too sound. Keep in mind that India is very different from the world when it comes to the business of gyms because for long it has cultivated the gym business like a 'service' industry, unlike the west where it is a 'facilty' industry. Meaning in India, when people pay for the gym, they expect to be serviced by the floor trainers and staff and get results, whereas in the west, most gyms are facilities that allow you to use their premises for a fee. And that is where the core of the problem lies.

A great case study of this is Anytime Fitness Khar. A place where they turned my once favourable opinion about the place into a majorly unforgiving negative opinion within a matter of minutes. The difference was my positive opinion about the place came from my understanding of their location, equipment profile, working hours and facilities - whereas my repulsion to the place came from their staff and insistence on ridiculous 'policies' of the gym which serve no reason except greedy profiteering based in serious insecurities. The one 'policy' that really needs mention is this ridiculous one:

'NO BUDDY TRAINING':
This apparently is one of the policies of the place. Which according to them means you can't train with your friend or girlfriend.
The reason behind the policy: This was initially implemented in various gyms to disallow freeleance trainers from poaching clients from gyms. But has now become a senseless, no logic included, profiteering scheme. Gyms like these now have policies like these implemented to force people to enlist for personal training and therefore hiring their staff to train and spot you.
The problem is: You don't want a trainer as you yourself might be qualified way more than their 'trainers' who shamelessly lift half the weights for their clients - who are doing 'half reps' right in front of you and working out with the worst form and technique possible without any corrections. And hell no I (or any individual with decent sense) don't want such a trainer spotting me or my friend or my girlfriend, let alone TRAINING any of us.

We go to a gym to workout with our friends who are our social circle, share out fitness goals and passion, and spot and motivate each other from time to time. We don't go to a gym to be helpless victims of a training poaching scheme where you are forced to either workout light and easy, OR if you want to train heavy and seriously, pay money for a 'trainer' who IMHO wouldn't even qualify as a spotter if actually put to the test.

What's even funnier is that their staff considered me talking about lifting biomechanics and form and technique between sets to my friend as 'PERSONAL TRAINING' (which if you know me, is something i talk about 24x7 as i myself have been a student of K11 as i'm passionate about fitness and the science of it). If that is what they think personal training is, if they ever saw me actually personal training or what actually qualifies as personal training, they wouldn't even know what to call it.
Just so you know, a good personal trainer doesn't 'BUDDY TRAIN'. If you focus on the word 'PERSONAL' you would pretty much understand the essence of it. A PERSONAL trainer is dedicated to his client 110% during the workout session. No phones, no gossiping with other trainers and staff between sets and no music in his ears or any kind of distractions. A good personal trainer doesn't make the client rack and unrack plates between sets because he/she wants to conserve all his/her clients energy for the main sets. A good personal trainer doesn't stand around while his client is going through a set nor does he assists lifts that the client cannot do by themself to create a false sense of accomplishment. And if a place cant even differentiate the difference between a buddy workout and a personal training session, it's a HUGE RED FLAG against its own trainers and management.

When i asked the branch manager to let me have a word with the management, his reply was a abrasively pompous "I'm the top management here". That was Strike 3 right then and there.

Keep in mind that I actually enrolled in this gym without even haggling for a discount as I hate asking for discounts just as much as I hate giving them. I even went out of my way and asked my friend to join it as then we could workout together. This was a place that I actually approved of in terms of its equipment profile - something I'm very picky about. AND ALL OF THAT WAS OVERSHADOWDED WITHIN MINUTES BECAUSE OF A STUPID GREEDY POLICY AND IMPROPER STAFFING.

Both, me and my friend quit that gym right then and there within 45 mins of joining.

I'm close to the fitness industry, so I understand me being able to see the fallacy of this - but my friend who is in finance and nowhere near the fitness industry also could see through this illogical insistence on 'policy' and the ridiculous behaviour of the branch manager as 'majorly douchey', as he puts it.

Just having the banner of an 'international chain' on your forehead wont sustain your business longterm if you don't grasp an understanding of the essence of the field. It might bring you an initial footfall, but eventually everyone is going to see through your cracks and insufficiencies. Small and even big independant gyms run by people who are truly passionate about fitness and have spent blood, sweat and tears in the field will always be a better bet for people unless you learn from them.
Take BODYHOLICS and SHIVFIT for example - or even YFC SUPERHUMAN (an indian chain) for that matter.
If only 'gyms' like these understood this little fact, they would actually do much better business. But until then, it's like a big ship waiting to drown its franchisees and keep itself afloat.


- Pushkaraj S Shirke

PS: I usually train at the K11 Academy of Fitness Sciences, but owing to my recent chest and metacarpal fractures, i'm doing a lot of rehab work including light weights for multiple reps and floor work which I don't like students seeing - as they often mimic by example without understanding that what i'm doing is not a workout, it is a rehabilitation process. And that is why I was considering joining a commercial gym for 3 months till my rehab is complete and i can get back to training heavy the way i always do. 

A Compilation of My Fitness Photography Work

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