Fitness Business – My opinion on Fitness Australia

Lots of post and editorials on Fitness Australia of late in the media some positive some negative – so as a club owner and a member of Fitness Australia for the first time this year here’s what I think.

We know its not compulsory to be member of FA whether you’re a club owner or trainer lets make that clear and the fitness industry is a non- regulated industry,we all know that. I’m in my 12th year as a club owner 12 months ago I paid a membership as a business for the first time and I just received my renewal notice. As a club owner I have alway stipulated I prefer the staff to be FA registered here’s why.

By being registered with FA I know that they can only receive this recognition by gaining continuing education points,this means over a set period of time they need to educate themselves in the area they practice in. EG: personal trainers need to update their skills so that they deliver to their clients the best possible training skills not only  for results but safety and ongoing research that can be passed onto clients. Just like any career, up skilling equals success and longevity, results passed onto our clients from up skilling becomes retention not only for the personal trainer/group fitness instructor  but also for the club owner. Everybody stays in a job. Group fitness instructors also need to gain points and they can do this by attending workshops as well. So where do the points come from? They come from various educational providers who write courses both physical and theory. How do the course providers get the points? They write the educational sessions and present the documentation which meets a criteria that FA set. FA then present it to their educational team who then decide if the session has meet their standard and if so they then reward that session with points. The points are allocated based on the type of workshop and the time it takes to do the workshop. The trainer pays for the workshop,gains the points,then presents all their certificates to FA who then renew their registration with FA. A copy is then given to the club owner who then has proof the trainer has educated themselves and not relied on magazines or you tube clips for ideas/concepts for clients.This means a club owner and consumer can feel confident in the staff member. Do course providers have to present their courses to FA? No. Catch is the reasons I gave you as to why I prefer FA registered staff, it helps me keep an eye on my staff.  Can course providers teach courses without FA approval? Yes, its up to the consumer if they want to attend. Some of the Australia’s best educational sessions are conducted by those without FA approval.Think about it is every convention speaker/trainer registered with FA?

There is no other current organisation to my knowledge that offers the same to our industry as FA – in lay terms they have no real competitors.

In the twelve months that I have been a club member of FA that is a registered business I have not received one phone call from any person.I’m a new member where was the follow up? I have received newsletters thou!

My issues with FA

1.We have to many non qualified trainers in the industry setting up shop, as the only organisation here in Australia representing the fitness industry you should be doing something about it. These people take income from us the club owner and our staff, Therefore disallowing some clubs the affordability of a FA membership.

2.Stop wasting money in areas that have absolutely no gain for independent club owners. Get off the political agenda the only clubs to benefit from this is the chains.

3.Yes you went into battle with Apra – but I still have a $7k bill yearly and when I went to Apra to question some of the pricing the reply was it’s FA fault they negated. I am not the first club to have this issue. Maybe your board needs real club owners who work their business everyday and have a better understanding of the business of fitness to assist in decisions.

I doubt I will renew my business membership with FA, as a consumer of a product its been poor service. No personalised touch at all, perhaps FA need to attend a few retention workshops. I am your client and your accountable to me just as I’m a club owner and accountable to my consumer.

It’s a small cost whats the big deal – No it’s an expensive cost when I don’t get a return! Would you put money in a term deposit for 12 months and get nothing.

I’ve owned my club for 12 years and for the last 8 years as an instructor and trainer I haven’t been registered with FA. I continue to educate myself 24/7 at workshops both accredited and not accredited with FA. I travel to Filex every year and attend many other conventions. I don’t need to be a member to attend them. I’m a business owner and I make myself accountable to educate. I have great pricing on insurance and I can work and have worked for other providers without FA registration. My business is a success.

I look forward to watching the new board members drive Fitness Australia with change.

 

Mel Tempest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Fitness Business – My opinion on Fitness Australia”

  1. Really interesting blog post Mel.

    #Kudos to you for having the intestinal fortitude (aka guts) to speak your mind and perhaps say what many are thinking.

    I would suggest in regard to registration Fitness Australia have 3 competitors:
    1. Physical Activity Australia
    2. FitRec
    3. Not registering.

    The rumour mill would seem to suggest that there are loads of graduating fitness professionals who are choosing the 3rd option.

    I agree with you & think it would be great if consumers realised that FA registration was the only tick of approval they should be looking for before engaging with a personal trainer.

    But then that begs the question: what is Fitness Australia’s role in the fitness industry?

    I agree and disagree with your second point (so yep getting splinters in my bum).

    I agree that perhaps too much time is being currently spent by FA in an advocacy role. I see the big picture on what they want to achieve but as a result perhaps they are losing sight of as you put it their ‘client.’ Nevertheless, if (and I mean it is a huge IF) they get gym memberships to be free of fringe benefits tax then that would be deemed a win for every person in the industry not just chains. It would be fantastic for all businesses.

    So that again begs the question: what is Fitness Australia’s role in the fitness industry?

    Just on FBT, my question would be if FA do get the tax laws changed, would that mean MORE people will exercise or would that simply mean that the current 17-20% of the population can now have the company pay for their membership? So is the FA energy being spent going to give the industry a ROI by increasing the number of exercisers?

    Yet again it begs the question: what is Fitness Australia’s role in the fitness industry?

    As I am not a club owner, I cannot comment on PPCA and APRA fees. But currently on the FA Board there is a great mix of club owners and managers – from large to small; from chains to gyms to PT studios. I think the diversity of the Board members is a good thing. More over from the discussions I have had with various Board members they are aware that FA needs better positioning, clearer direction and perhaps better conversations with people like you – club owners.

    I think potentially the FA organisation maybe thinking “What is Fitness Australia’s role in the fitness industry?”

    I am 100% sure your feedback on why you are not renewing is not unique. I mean my company is a supplier member and I could have similar complaints to you. But I have changed my mindset about my supplier membership. My mindset is ‘This is not a membership it is donation to make the industry stronger.’ You see with a membership you expect certain benefits and when you don’t get them, you are peeved (rightfully so). But with a donation your expectations are nil, so you are never disappointed.

    Whether you and other club owners consider your investment in FA a membership or a donation, is your decision. I do know this for certain: if FA have no members then the Australian fitness industry has not peak body to do anything to improve or represent any aspect of the industry. The industry will be fragmented, dysfunctional and achieve little.

    I believe that the fitness industry needs Fitness Australia and it needs people like you to be a member (even a Board member) and hold them accountable for what they promise – allowing them to improve and get better.

    Club owners, franchise owners, and PT business owners will achieve loads more being united and inside the FA castle than on the outside throwing stones at the wall.

  2. Thanks JT for taking the time to read the blog – I just like to go with the flow and not think too deep and tell it as real as it is for me. How interesting when I wrote no competitors for FA that none came to mind immediately,does this mean they’re not branded strong in the community and a lacking marketing skills or do I have my head in the sand? Absolutely agree on the 3rd yes thats what trainers are choosing to do and this is because I feel RTO’s ‘maybe’ educating them this way when asked the question. I think FA has lost its way and at this stage don’t really know what their role is. You can only be great at one thing and average at everything else. With #fbt this is how I look at it as a club owner,yes #fbt would be great if every workplace took advantage of it,every business was educated on the benefits of healthy staff,it dropped public health waiting lists and of course more people had gym memberships and purchased our upsetting in clubs. Here’s a possible downside to it all – #fbt comes in chain clubs being the majority as a whole over independents are able to drop their corporate rate memberships across all franchised clubs to attract the so called ’employer well being programs’ ..buy bulk corporate memberships get a better deal is the sell to business…you get my point. Independents don’t have this priviledge and what I mean is the majority of them cannot drop their prices to compete with low cost membership – we are already seeing this with 24/7 clubs. Will more people exercise? Will I win tatts? Education to good health is the key,not price. And to be frank if chains don’t drop their prices the consumer being the business who wants a wellbeing program will certainly tender it out. Donation/membership – even when I donate to the cancer council I see what they do. I can tell myself last years membership was a donation, but I still didn’t see anything in return. Yes we need a FA and we need more people to be heard. I past on similar feedback before I went to the states and have heard nothing and this was to a board member. I even gave them a marketing idea on how to counter act unregistered trainers in the industry.Nothing…….Something else board members should not be allowed to sponsor their products via FA. Who are they there for? The same as unless they work in a club or have day to day involvement they shouldn’t be there.Yes I do understand financial/legal etc. I love AF and if I could I would buy their clubs here – but reality is they have taken a position on the board but hired a CEO to run AF, now having interests elsewhere and paying back,this is great. Now if thats not correct thats fine,but thats my perception as a consumer looking in. As I’ve said before the one thing life we can’t change is a persons perception – because we never get the chance to know it……Thanks again for your time JT.

    1. Hi Mel and JT. Thanks for your comments. We appreciate the feedback – both good and bad. It helps us to improve. Fitness Australia does have a very broad mandate, one of which is to ensure that the fitness industry, as a whole, gains the recognition, respect and connection with important external stakeholders such as government and peak health groups. We have invested member funds in creating these foundations as a way to build long-tern value for the entire fitness industry, not just some in it. We appreciate your contribution to this. At the same time, we recognise the need to focus on supporting individual members and now that a lot of work has been put into building foundations, this is a key objective. Please accept my apologies for you not having received a phone call from our team. This is part of our regular process, but for some reason, this has not occurred in your case. In relation to APRA, please let us know if we can help you with this. With regard to advocacy and the FBT campaign, whilst it may seem that this is our focus, it is not. It is a part of what we do and an important function. However it is not our sole focus. I’d be glad to contact you in the next week or so to discuss some of our initiatives and I’d b keen to listen to your thoughts on how we can address some of the concerns that you have raised with regard to the profession, as these are very important for the ongoing success of the industry as a whole. Thanks again and I will be in touch. Lauretta Stace.

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