By Robert Robinson

We will not soon forget the year 2020.  We started flattening the curve in the spring and social distancing in the summer, what will the Fall bring our way?

Indeed, everyone will have a story to share including the many personal experiences like virtual weddings, funerals, birthdays, and fitness conferences to name a few.  We have all demonstrated admirable resilience and courage to not throw in the towel in the face of adversity.  The Fitness Industry, not exempt, has been mentioned in several media stories including how clubs will reopen and whether members will be reluctant to return to the gym. Recognizing the ripple effect that decisions, by both Fitness Businesses and Fitness Consumers, will ultimately have on the health of the industry, many club owners and operators from across the country started the conversation.

#IndustryStrong

Personally, in the past six months I have attended more virtual roundtables and industry coalition calls than ever before.  The outcome of the global crisis ultimately brought together some of the country’s most influential club owners, operators, and fitness professionals to the table to discuss best practices, shared experiences, and to consult on next steps.

Did COVID-19 actually produce some positive outcomes?  Fascinated by the recent vertical engagement that has emerged in our industry, the true testament will be, what happens when COVID-19 is no longer a common enemy? Will we stay unified as a fitness industry or return to business as usual? For now, let us celebrate the fact that we have consolidated together – because of it.

Thank you COVID-19?

I know, this may be a stretch and even offensive, because of the global impact felt by the pandemic which has directly or indirectly touched us all.  Right here in our industry, many businesses have closed their doors for an extended period, while others have closed for good.  It can be extremely hard to see the good in something that has been so bad!

I am both a Black Fitness Professional and a Professional working in the Fitness Industry.  My unique appreciation for this period in our history is influenced solely by this reality.

The other pandemic (Crisis) = Opportunity

While being industry-strong can lead to club doors reopening, my hope is that it will also lead to the opening of caring hearts that desire to change the demographic and diversity landscape of fitness.

Earlier this year we witnessed the greatest unified global outcry against racial injustice and social unrest ever in our history.  On May 25, 2020, another human life was taken at the hands of carelessness and systemic racism, but this time there were no distractions (no sports, no movies, no concerts, no fun vacations), and the world echoed, “enough is enough”.

This other crisis can actually be our greatest opportunity to be Industry Strong.  It’s easy to react, but instead we chose to respond. We quickly realized that it is not what you say, but what you do that will measure your true commitment to change.  We listened to the feedback of our members and are now imploring the Fitness Industry to join us to be better together!

The following list is only the beginning of our journey to lasting change at canfitpro:

  1. Formed Diversity & Inclusion Committee to champion organization objectives and motivate positive change in our membership base and the fitness community.
  2. Outlined a 12-Month Strategy to identify and address organizational priorities timely.
  3. Launched a Learning Club & Resource Library to promote lifelong learning.
  4. Reviewed our hiring processes to make career opportunities accessible to diverse applicants.
  5. Surveyed members and partners to better understand how best to service everyone equally.

What can you and your organization do to start?

As an industry partner we hope you are starting too.  Many fitness businesses and professionals have admittedly asked, “Where do we start?”  These five things can help you make an immediate impact in your company’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy:

  1. Hiring & Promotion: Take a look at your staff body and if there is an imbalance of racial and gender diversity on your leadership team, then this is a good place to start.
  2. Training & Development: Find an organization that specializes in Diversity & Inclusion and invite them to the table to do a corporate assessment.  You can also start by finding online training resources and initiate a Learning Path starting from the highest level of leadership downward.
  3. Survey: Ask your team how Diversity & Inclusion has impacted them and what they would like to see in the workplace to make it safe and equitable for their career growth.
  4. Management/Leadership: Leadership must lead the change in your organization.  A senior leader and/or mid-level manager must drive the corporate agenda.  If the team leading your Diversity & Inclusion strategy does not include leadership, it will fail fast.
  5. External Representation: Review your marketing materials, websites, communication channels, and product packaging to learn if your organization is victim to unconscious bias.  Your communication channels will tell your audience a lot about you.

You have a tremendous opportunity and influence. The strength of your words has the power to give life a new reality, so say less and do more. Let’s lead fitness and start with the conversation.

The whole is greater than the sum of all its parts. – Unknown

About Robert Robinson

Robert Robinson is the Manager of B2B Sales & Strategic Partnerships at canfitpro and a certified Personal Training Specialist for over 7 years. He led the revision of the current edition of canfitpro’s Personal Training Specialist program and now oversees the B2B Business Unit. Robert is an experienced sales professional with over 15 years in the financial and fitness industry. His personal focus is to enlighten others about making individual and collective choices for positive change.