Government Failures and Huge Opportunities for Gym Owners

A closeup of a report card with a large red "F" and the words "see me."

Gym owners: You’re needed more than ever.

After a very tough two-year stretch in which gyms struggled to navigate pandemic restrictions, the fitness industry remains an essential part of the world’s health-care system.

But most people don’t know that.

So your goal in 2022 is to tell them.

A head shot of writer Mike Warkentin and the column name "Pressing It Out."

On Nov. 30, the Canadian nonprofit group ParticipACTION released its 2021 Report Card on “Physical Activity for Adults.” You can get it here.

Executive summary: Our fitness sucks.

The report grades almost 20 aspects of fitness over four categories, from “Daily Behaviours” to “Spaces, Places and Cultural Norms.” You will not find an A in the report, and I’d suggest some of the B’s are rather generous.

I can’t resist the urge to lay out the Daily Behaviours section for you:

  • C — Total daily steps (2019 grade: C).
  • C+ — Light physical activity.
  • C — Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (2019 grade: F).
  • D- — Muscle-strengthening activities.
  • D- — Balance activities.
  • F — Active transportation.
  • D — Sport participation.
  • B — Sleep.
  • F — Sedentary behaviours.


The only win I can see: Canadians seem to be OK at sleeping, which seems to be the free space on this bingo card.

It should be noted that “light physical activity” is a new category perhaps introduced to create a chance to give out a decent grade. According to the report, light physical activity includes “activities that are part of daily life.” Stuff that qualifies: “standing work or light housework such as washing dishes.” And we still don’t do enough of that.

The report’s definition of “moderate-to-vigorous physical activity” will not match up with yours, either. The category includes stuff like dancing, jogging and “brisk walking.”

Overall, the ParticipACTION report says we are a nation of weak, inactive people who spend most of our time on the couch.

It’s disastrous.


One Good Thing


As a positive, the report does a good job of listing the benefits of activity. For example:

“Benefits of strength training include reduced risk of all-cause mortality, chronic disease and premature death. Strength training increases muscle and bone density and metabolism and is accompanied by significant decreases in fat, reduced low-back pain, decreased arthritic discomfort, increased functional independence, enhanced movement control, increased walking speed, improved glucose control and reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.”

The percentage of Canadian adults who lift but twice a week to get all these amazing benefits? Just 25. One in four people.

Just under half of Canadians get at least 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity per week, passing on another lengthy list of health benefits.

The good news for gym owners: You don’t need to fight each other for prospective clients.


The Plan for Gym Owners


The report’s “policy” recommendations—corrective measures—are what you would expect:

“Policy-makers should develop more focused campaigns for promoting strength training as an important part of overall (physical activity) for all adults.”

I’ll interpret for you: Some vague group of people should take undetermined action to try to get adults to lift stuff once in a while.

That plan will no doubt be as effective as the government’s scheme to increase the use of active transportation in a country characterized by urban sprawl and winters with temperatures below -30C/-22F. (Grade: F. “7% of adults living in Canada use active travel, walking/bicycling to travel to work.)

I’ll brush aside millions in wasted government spending and offer a concise, concrete plan that will actually work:

  1. Go here and get our “Affinity Marketing Guide.”
  2. Follow the clear steps in the guide to connect with the friends, family and coworkers of your current clients.


That’s exactly how gym owners will be able to get more people moving and make real change.

Yes, you can run ads and target the huge population of people on the couch. But you’re going to war with the World Junior Hockey Championships, “Halo: Infinite” and Season 2 of “The Witcher.” That’s going to be a long fight.

I’m not a scientist or statistician, but I’m pretty sure the people most likely to get moving are those who know people who already move regularly.


A Two-Brain Tactic for 2022

Here’s what I’d do:

Our Affinity Marketing guide suggests you should “go for the group” once every quarter. That means a large event like a Wine and WOD, a nutrition talk and so on.

So host an event early in January in which you present key aspects of the ParticipACTION report and explain exactly how your coaching will help people take action and improve their health. Most of the work is already done for you: State the grade from the report, list a stat or two, tell people about the benefits of improving their score and talk about your coaching.

Promote this event widely to the public, but spend more time asking your members to bring in their family members and acquaintances. Your members already see the benefits of fitness, and they no doubt want the people they love to live longer, healthier lives.

If you follow this plan, you’re almost certain to get some new clients. At the very least, you’ll get contact info from attendees, and you can continue to warm them over the next months.

Financial rewards aside, you’ll get to feel good about yourself for “helping first.” You’ll be offering assistance to people who badly need it and succeeding where governments around the world are failing miserably.

Don’t wait. Start planning your event now. Get Two-Brain’s “Affinity Marketing Guide” here for free.

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