To quote Hamilton, creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s famous song, “Be in the room where it happens. The room where it happens…No one really knows how the game is played/ The art of the trade/ How the sausage gets made/ We just assume that it happens." Being in the “room” where industry secrets, insights, tips, and tricks are shared is indispensable!
Through my over ten years of being a serial general manager in the fitness industry, I felt first-hand the loneliness and heaviness that you can feel when leading a business. At one time in my career, I had a team of almost 100 employees and hundreds of members across 5 locations making up my daily community. Nonetheless, I felt more alone then, than I do now writing to you from my home office where I spend the majority of my time working “solo” during a pandemic. What’s the difference? Now I have a national network of like-minded passionate owners and managers who I connect with daily!
I think we can all agree that running a fitness business can get lonely. Yes, you likely have a community of people that you lead, which includes your staff and clients, and a community of friends and family. But, do you have a professional community, filled with driven fitness studio owners like yourself? People who are your equals and who really “get it”?
The sayings about networking and success are numerous:
“Your network equals your net worth”
“A problem shared is a problem halved”
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” - Helen Keller
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
“It takes a village”
“A rising tide lifts all ships”
Yet, it can be far too easy to place your own professional development, including networking, on the back burner. It’s understandable that your impulse might be to stay siloed, operating a fitness business is no small feat, there are endless daily fires to put out, a million things to juggle, and no extra time to chit-chat.
Even if you feel that you don’t have time, fitness industry networking can significantly improve your business and your life. Here’s why:
1.) Wisdom is contagious!
Jim Rohn, personal development guru, says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” By collaborating with thought leaders and experts in the industry, you will naturally absorb their wisdom and insights. The more aligned their wisdom is with the wisdom that you need, the easier it is to implement!
2.) The days of being exclusive are gone.
In 2018, HBR published an article about the five ways that the role of a manager has changed in today’s world. One of the key insights from this article is the suggestion to let go of being exclusive and holding ideas and thoughts closely. While the authors speak in terms of working within one’s own company, as a small business with fewer options for internal networks, you have to broaden your reach and find others outside of your business with whom to strategize and share. The article concludes, “Truly breakaway thinking gets its spark from the playful experimentation of many people exchanging their views, integrating their experiences, and imagining different futures.”
3.) The emotional relief is real.
If you are someone who tends to stay hidden behind the scenes, the exhilaration, relief, and clarity that you can find when you develop deep connections with others in the industry is palpable. Building a trusted network in the fitness industry will help you learn new skills and tactics, build confidence in the things you already knew, receive support to let go of the things that aren’t serving you, and find motivation and inspiration to keep pushing your limits.
4.) You can expand your thinking.
The world and the fitness industry continue to change rapidly. Therefore, you need to keep expanding your ideas of who the fitness consumer is and how you can best serve them. This means having conversations with others to help push your idea of what you thought was possible. You can only do so much within the confines of your own brain and mode of thinking. Attending think tanks with people who understand the industry and your challenges can push you further than you thought you could go.
5.) Sharing is caring... and sharing is selfish.
If you are a business owner or manager, chances are you enjoy leading! You’re already a leader of your community, so now is the time to become a leader in the industry. The path to morphing into this thought leader role is through sharing your knowledge with others. Not only does sharing with other owners and managers help generally support the industry that you love, but it also strengthens your knowledge when you are forced to articulate it. Ultimately, sharing what you know paves the way to positioning yourself in the industry as a thought leader.
According to an article published in Forbes, networking should be at the core of your career. So, get out there, find the professional community and network that’s right for you and watch the incredible impact that it has on your business, professional development, and even personal relationships.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jessica LaChance is the Content Marketing Manager for Boutique Fitness Solutions. During her time as the General Manager of a five-location, multi-million in revenue chain of upscale Pilates studios in New York City, Jessica attended the first Boutique Fitness Summit in 2018, where she fell in love with the boutique fitness community at large. Jessica’s dedication to movement originates with her first love, modern dance. After graduating with a BFA in Dance from Marymount Manhattan College in 2010, she found a home in the wellness world to complement her dance career. Jessica transitioned to working with BFS full time in 2020, creating the perfect professional alchemy of fitness and a passion for connecting with people and helping to solve problems.
FitGrid is a community management system designed for boutique fitness studios to engage clients on a personal level