Archive for April, 2012

101 Tips for Being a Great General Manager from Jeffrey Keller

Posted in Guest Authors, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized on April 26, 2012 by mboyle1959

 I read this the other day and just had to borrow it.

Everyone likes tips.  They’re simple, easy to digest, and sometimes, for some people, Earth shattering.  General Managers (and Owners) get so caught up in putting out fires, dealing with employee issues, and worrying about making budget that they forget even their jobs can be broken down into the simplest of tasks.  Below are 101 nuggets to help you be a better General Manager.  You may know some of these, or even a lot of these, but odds are you haven’t used them in quite some time.  So read, learn, and be successful.  As always, I’d love to hear your advice.  Email me with your nuggets of wisdom.

  1. Treat your great employees like gold.  They’re your best asset.
  2. Set the bar high for customer service. Then, show your employees what you mean by living it.
  3. Survey your members for expectations. Design programs that exceed them.
  4. Consistently read fitness industry journals and magazines for new ideas.
  5. Make customer complaints easy to file and never miss a chance to follow-up with the member.
  6. Share your ideas with people in different lines of work.  They may have great suggestions.
  7. Reward those employees who challenge the status quo.
  8. When launching a new service, plan, plan, plan, rest, and then plan some more.
  9. Always have debriefings after seasonal events to learn how to do them better.
  10. Never lose sight of your goal.  Tailor anything you do to meet that goal.
  11. Remember, the “next great thing” may be the “next great failure”.  Always ask, “Will it help me meet my goal?”
  12. Don’t just ask your employees what they think.  If the ideas are good, act on their ideas.
  13. Hire people whose skills complement your strengths, not just those who agree with you or fill the qualifications.
  14. Create performance evaluations that link your employees to the facility’s goal.
  15. Learn about technology and watch for new trends that will help you.
  16. The best-laid plans fail when you don’t have the courage to execute.
  17. Create milestones for achieving goals and publicly acknowledge those who contributed most to hitting those milestones.
  18. When changing things, employees can tolerate almost any what or how if they know why.
  19. If you ask everyone for 3 suggestions for a problem, never accept 2.  That’s not what you asked for.
  20. Use local networking groups to advertise your services to other businesses.
  21. Have an actual marketing strategy.  Don’t just try to increase sales the way the guy down the street is doing it.
  22. Reward members for good attendance.  They will refer new members without any other encouragement.  It’s amazing how giving a free t-shirt will inspire referrals.
  23. Send your best employees to an employee-coaching seminar so they can learn how to teach others how to be great.
  24. Use multiple medias for marketing, not just mailers.
  25. Volunteer to write articles for local newspapers and magazines.  They may give you free advertising on top of it.  At the very least, ask for it.
  26. At your next networking meeting, ask someone you respect and admire if he or she will be your mentor, even if he or she isn’t in the fitness industry.
  27. Never let a possible new member leave empty handed.  If he or she isn’t going to join then, offer a free guest pass or personal training session to get him or her to come back.
  28. Create and invest in an amazing New Member Booklet that has several guest passes, some coupons, and tips on being successful at achieving fitness goals.
  29. Train sales staff to ask questions about a possible new member’s goals.  Make sure those goals are recorded and passed on to the Fitness Department.  Let the trainers help bring the prospect back in the door.
  30. Create small spending accounts for your Fitness Department staff to spend on supplement, smoothie, or drink giveaways to clients.
  31. Discuss corporate agreements with as many local physicians as possible.  Referrals like this have more punch and you’ll know the prospects hot buttons when he or she walks through the door.
  32. Don’t be afraid to reward new members who prepay an annual membership.  A lot of money is spent each year chasing bad debt.
  33. Send a Welcome Letter to all New Members within one week of joining.  Make sure it’s hand-signed by you.
  34. Send a “Checking Up on You” Letter to all New Members one month after they join.  Put a couple guest passes in with the letter.
  35. Follow-up with all New Members 6 months after joining to make sure they’re happy.
  36. Review member check-ins to determine those who haven’t attended in the last 3 weeks.  Send an email to them encouraging them to return.  Members don’t value what they aren’t using.
  37. Sell themed t-shirts to members who attend themed classes like Bootcamp.
  38. Give your best local suppliers a free month membership in exchange for their supply suggestions based on their experience as a customer.
  39. Don’t be afraid to barter for good deals with vendors.  Plenty of privately owned businesses still do this.
  40. Send “Holiday” cards or emails to your members with a 1-week FREE pass or link they can send to friends and coworkers as gifts.
  41. Create a branded gift bags for New Members.
  42. Partner with local realtors to bring their clients by for a tour and a FREE smoothie.
  43. Host a Charity EXPO with the local chapters of a couple dozen non-profit organizations.  Piggy back a free guest day onto the EXPO and collect the contact info of all the friends your members bring.
  44. Host a local physician for a free-to-the-public seminar on the medical specialty of the physician.
  45. Always remember, people hate to be sold to but they love to buy stuff.
  46. When a New Member joins, that’s the best time to ask for a referral.  At that moment, the New Member is totally committed and will want to share with a friend.
  47. Interruption marketing doesn’t work anymore.  Permission marketing does.  Develop relationships, not just sales strategies.
  48. Gain a potential customer’s trust and he’ll buy most anything from you.
  49. Don’t try to differentiate yourself on price.  It will just make you and your immediate competition race for who can go the lowest.
  50. Customer satisfaction is the bare minimum.  Customer loyalty should be your goal.
  51. Make sure your Sales Staff knows the characteristics of potential customers who will be coming in the door.  This will help them overcome customer objections.
  52. Never blame someone or something else for not meeting a goal.  Be accountable.
  53. Carrying business cards may be antiquated, but it’s embarrassing to be caught without one.  Never leave the office with an empty pocket.
  54. Make a full walk-though of your facility at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  Carry a checklist or notepad to write things down.
  55. The best way to sell a New Membership is to be friendly.  People like to do business with friends.
  56. Encourage your Sales and Fitness Staffs to use Facebook and other similar online services to market themselves to friends and friends of friends.
  57. Success in business is not who you know.  It’s who knows you.
  58. Create an infomercial about yourself for networking situations.  Rehearse it.  Make sure it’s no longer than 30 seconds.
  59. When networking, be the first one in the door and the last one to leave.
  60. Hold regular feedback sessions to make sure employees are on track.
  61. Whether you use the advice or not, ask your staff for it in situations they have expertise in.
  62. Never lose sight of your goal.  Always think in terms of meeting that goal.
  63. Be inspirational.  Others can contribute a lot to the success of the facility.
  64. Publicly share the credit for successes.  Most of the time you didn’t do it alone.
  65. Address difficult “issues” not difficult “people”.
  66. The number one thing you can say to an employee is “thank you”.  Say it at least 10 times a day.
  67. Generally speaking, you need to reach a customer on average 10 times to make a sale.  Use as many possible approaches as you can to stay in front of a customer.
  68. Proof read ALL emails.  Nothing makes you look more incompetent than grammar and spelling errors.
  69. Manage your time effectively.  There’s plenty of new technology out there to help you.
  70. Make a commitment to respond to everyone within 24 hours.  You’ll be amazed at what it does for your reputation.
  71. Over invest in your employees’ development.  Their growth is as important as your customer’s loyalty.
  72. If possible, prepay an annual amount for a service rather than monthly installments.  Usually it’s cheaper and you won’t spend time every month paying an invoice.
  73. Get an email address from EVERY New Member.  Email invoices and late notices to save on stamps, paper, and envelopes.
  74. Don’t have a staff meeting unless you need a staff meeting.
  75. Offer a FREE smoothie coupon for members who go online to your website and fill out a Customer Experience Questionnaire.
  76. Keep in mind, good employees leave bad managers, not clubs.
  77. Choose your measurements of success carefully, then pay attention to them.  Religiously!
  78. Categorize your members by zip code or residential development.  Research the total households in your market and target areas you seem to not be reaching.
  79. Create a member participation incentive program that has a “bring a guest for double points” day.
  80. Learn more about yourself.  Take the Myers-Briggs Personality Profile quiz.  You can find it online for free.  You’ll learn a lot about yourself.
  81. Buy an employee lunch at random and ask to pick his or her brain for ideas.
  82. Recite the mantra every day, “It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.”
  83. Hang a dry erase board over your desk to track ideas as they come to you.
  84. Spend at least an hour every week strategizing on how to adapt your plan to what is happening in the marketplace.
  85. Learn to understand the stock market and the indices.  They’ll tell you a lot about the economy and what to expect in the long term.
  86. Break down the price of a smoothie into the costs of all its ingredients.  Standardize the recipe for employees so you know exactly what the profit will be.
  87. Statistically speaking, if you make a compelling reason for someone to join your club, approximately 5% will join.  Speaking to large groups will maximize your time.  A group of 100 equals 5 New Members for an hour’s work.
  88. Commit to selling the best product possible you can rather than focusing on providing the lowest cost to the customer.
  89. Invest more money in a “pre-qualified” mailing list rather than a lot of money in a fancy mailer design.  The list you can keep and use over and over.
  90. Rent a CFO once per month or quarter.  They can seem expensive, but the amount of money you’ll reap in return will be 10 fold.
  91. Stop the membership revolving door.  Spend half of what you spent on selling new memberships last year and put the remainder into member retention efforts.
  92. Find one of your Front Desk Staff who has a great memory for names and make them Customer Service liaison.  Give him or her a raise to greet every member by name.  It will make your members feel great.
  93. Ask your website provider for a way to track an email forwarding function for your email blasts.  Give members a 10% off coupon for forwarding to a friend.
  94. Use a “FREE Download” as a way to get website visitors to sign up for your mailing list.
  95. Track the demographics of your members coming in at certain times of the day.  Have the desk staff change the overhead music to age appropriate when necessary.
  96. Make the effort to personally visit with members.  They want to know you’re available to comment to.
  97. Make an impression.  Dress like an executive, with a jacket and tie if necessary.
  98. Buy a smart phone and set up a Google account.  It’s free and you can keep the phone on your hip for reminders.
  99. Sign up for multiple email newsletters from marketing and sales consultant websites even outside the health club industry.  Learn what others are doing.
  100. Sales is work.  Break down the sales process for your staff.  Understand their personal performance indicators, then reverse engineer their goals for the day and hold them accountable to them.  It adds up.
  101. Pay it forward.  Help others be successful and they’ll help you.

Is Your Box Too Small

Posted in Random Thoughts, Updates, Training with tags on April 23, 2012 by mboyle1959

Recently I wrote a fairly well received article I titled There is a Reason There is a Box. The premise of the article was that “out of the box” thinking is running out of control and that we need to make sure that we are “masters of the box” before we begin to think outside the box.

A recent conversation with my friend Dan Dyrek DPT added yet another thought to the process. As we discussed the premise of the previously mentioned article Dan said “what if your box is too small”.  I realized that this was a brilliant slant that I had missed. I have often criticized the one tool wonders. These are people who have a very small toolbox yet think they can cure every ill with their one tool. Imagine a handyman with nothing but a hammer in his small toolbox. The visual quickly brings us to the clichéd line “when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.

What about when the only tool you have is a kettlebell, or a Pilates workout, or a yoga class. Any of these tools in isolation clearly gives you a limited toolbox.  Personally, I like to have all of these tools in my toolbox. I love kettlebells for swings , split squats, 1 leg straight leg deadlifts and getups. I love stretches derived from Yoga and groin rehab from Pilates. I consider my toolbox to be large and well stocked. Much like browsing the tool aisle at Home Depot I am always experimenting with new tools. However, I think carefully before I add them to my box. If you look in your box and see one tool you should ask yourself  what you can fix with that tool. If you answer “everything”, you probably should think again.

To be honest we should probably all start with a small toolbox and add tools as you need them. The important point is to realize that you are not yet a master carpenter and that you still need to add quality tools and learn how to use them.

The “one tool wonder” idea does not just apply to strength and conditioning or fitness. We often see the same thing in the worlds of physical therapy and sportsmedicine. Often here we may have more of a “tool of the week” or “tool of the year” approach. Believe me, it’s OK to add ART or Graston to your toolbox. Just don’t throw out all the other tools.

The real key may be to ask yourself if your box is big enough, well stocked, and has room to expand.  A expandable box in this case is an open mind. Well stocked means that you have enough tools but, not too many. Room to expand means room to learn and room to grow. Some suggested steps:

Step 1. Buy the basic tools that will serve you well for 90% of the jobs you need done.

Step 2. When something arises where your tools don’t work, you go buy another tool. Just the tool you need.

Step 3. When another problem arises, you buy another tool. If there’s no problem, you don’t need new tools.

Over time your toolbox will be huge, but it doesn’t start that way.

This gives you time to master the tools you have before you buy more.

New Rules of Lifting for Life

Posted in Core training, Fat Loss, Injuries, Low Back Pain, Media, Updates, Training, Training Females with tags , , , , on April 19, 2012 by mboyle1959

I generally not a fan of sequels. I liked the first Lord of the Rings and the first Star Wars. I have not liked many remakes in the music world ( Kenny Chesney’s covers of Brandy and Please Come to Boston excluded). However my friends Alwyn Cosgrove and Lou Shuler have performed a Chesneyesque feat with New Rules of Lifting for Life.

I’ll make it simple. If you have purchased any of the New Rules series and liked it, buy this one. If you have not purchased any of the New Rules series buy this one. You won’t be disappointed either way. This will help trainers with clients or a fitness enthusiast looking to design his or her own program.

I know, you think this is just a promo because we all promote each others stuff. Wrong, check your records. I rarely do affiliate stuff for money. I promote things to you that I think will benefit you. So, click and buy and then write in later and tell me how right I was.

Functional Strength Coach 4

Posted in Core training, Fat Loss, Injuries, Low Back Pain, MBSC News, Media, Random Thoughts, Seminars, Updates, Training with tags on April 18, 2012 by mboyle1959
I wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know that I am
going to officially release Functional Strength Coach 4 next week. I know
some of you have gotten advance copies. I’ll give you more details in the
next couple of days but if you want to be
one of the first to know more about Functional Strength Coach 4,
then you can get on the waiting list here:
I gave Alwyn Cosgrove an advanced copy of the program and if you want to hear
his review of Functional Strength Coach 4, check it out now:

Posted in Uncategorized on April 17, 2012 by mboyle1959

Laree Draper has put together another great new educational resource You can download talks and get PDF transcripts to make notes on. Take a look if you get a chance. This is link to one of mine that she put up with a review.

MICHAEL BOYLE: FAT LOSS SECRETS > > Basic no-nonsense information >Review: I love how Mike Boyle cuts through to the basics of what >works and what's nonsense. Great information to incorporate into my >own client's training programs. > >Posted By: Doug Barsanti

A Strength and Conditioning History Lesson

Posted in Guest Authors, Random Thoughts, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized, Youth Training with tags , on April 16, 2012 by mboyle1959

My friend Lance Hooton was kind enough to share this piece of history. This is an absolute “must read” if you are in the field of strength and conditioning.

If Anyone Gets Slower You’re Fired

Look forward to your comments.

The Top 11 Internet Fitness Articles of All Time?

Posted in Core training, Fat Loss, Guest Authors, Injuries, Low Back Pain, Media, Random Thoughts, Updates, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized with tags , on April 14, 2012 by mboyle1959

Tough to follow up the success of the last two days posts but, take a look at this list from member and resident female expert Elsbeth Vaino.

Top 11 Internet Fitness Articles of All Time?

Looking forward to more comments.

Foam Roller Follow Up

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13, 2012 by mboyle1959

Wow, what an amazing response to yesterdays post. This blog had nearly three times more views than the highest day ever and almost ten times more views than an a average day! I guess I struck a nerve. Thanks for all the comments. I really appreciate Mike Nelson ( the author of one of the posts discussed in the article) taking the time to read and comment. Please don’t take this as a sales pitch but, if you want to learn more about foam rolling from a “how to” standpoint I have a DVD that you can get from Perform Better

Foam Roller Techniques DVD

Here’s a sample clip

Is Foam Rolling Bad for You?

Posted in Injuries, Low Back Pain, Random Thoughts, Updates, Training, Training Females with tags , , , on April 12, 2012 by mboyle1959

Is Foam Rolling Bad for You? ( originally written for

As is always the case in life on the internet, someone has to decide to take the other side of an argument.

I often think that those who do so are simply looking for recognition in a crowded field.

Recently, we have had two widely distributed “articles” critical of foam rolling. ( Get Off the Foam Roller) . More recently Huffington Post even got into the act with some really bad information. (5 Foam Rolling Mistakes to Avoid)

I find it funny because it seems difficult to me to criticize something that universally makes people feel better.  In one article (which was actually written four years ago), the author makes the very basic case that pain is bad and the foam roller causes pain; therefore, the foam roller must be bad too.

I am not discounting the neurological basis of pain as that would be as illogical.  However the author’s primary premise seems to be that pain is bad and should be avoided at all costs. It is also worth noting that the author is a paid practitioner of a technique he feels is better than foam rolling.

It is obvious that I don’t agree with either author and, I intend to make a scientific case for my disagreement rather than a personal one.

I am also of the belief that pain is bad. However, I will qualify that statement and say that most pain is bad. In the case of the foam roller, I will go so far as to say that pain is good. I frequently tell my athletes that the foam roller is the only violation of our Does It Hurt rule. In a nutshell, my normal reaction to any question as to whether someone should do any exercise is to ask “Does It Hurt”? If the answer is no, then the exercise is generally acceptable. In the case of foam rolling, however, I think we actually need top seek out painful spots. Foam rolling is very counterintuitive.

The first article in question works on the belief that pain is neurological and that pain causes reflexive actions, all of which are negative.  However, in the world of physical therapy, the belief is widely held that the often painful techniques of soft tissue mobilization are in fact essential to produce long-term healing. What the author fails to acknowledge in his treatise on foam rolling is that in the end, the process is about chemistry, not electricity. All mechanical and neurological inputs become chemical inputs. It is clear scientific fact that the disturbance caused to muscle tissue via any type of mobilization (foam rolling, massage, Graston, ART)  in effect irritates the tissue. This irritation is painful in the short term, but the response is often a healing one, not a negative one. In soft tissue mobilization, the tissue is deliberately disrupted in order to produce the exact substances that tissue needs to heal and to realign.

The author of the first article linked above attempts to draw a line between massage and foam rolling by saying that the skilled hands of a therapist in essence make soft tissue mobilization via hands-on massage OK. His premise is that soft tissue work done by a person is infinitely better than pressure provided by an inanimate object. Again, this logic is flawed.

The idea that a skilled therapist knows how much pressure to utilize while a person working on themselves will produce so much pain as to render the technique useless seems a bit flawed. To be honest , I think most people are much easier on themselves with a roller than a therapist would be on them. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen a bruise produced by a foam roller but I have seen numerous bruises produced by a well meaning massage therapist.

So, back to why we foam roll. In the simplest sense, rolling is step one on the preparatory process. Our goal pre-exercise is to prepare the tissue for the stresses about to be applied. Proper tissue preparation allows an athlete to perform a workout without injury. I think or hope that we can accept the position that tissue changes in response to stress.

If the tissue is stressed optimally, the resulting adaptation is positive. If the tissue is overstressed by inappropriate volume (too many reps) , speed of lengthening (too fast) ,  or inappropriate overload (to much weight) the tissue response can shift from positive to negative.  Although tissue soreness is deemed normal, we must acknowledge that there is an ideal amount of that normal response, and the response should be limited to the muscle tissue and not be present in the connective tissue. In other words, sore quads would be OK, but sore knees not be OK.

In addition, muscle soreness and tissue damage can be the result of blows to the tissue instead of the planned application of stress. This tissue damage must also be mitigated, not just by time. It is important that tissue maintain its ability to deform properly. Loss of this tissue deformation ability results in what is called  a stress riser. These stress risers set up us up for later injury.

The big take away point is that thousands of athletes are rolling every day and getting a good result. Two blog posts should not be enough to relieve us of our common sense. Pressure to tissue when well applied seems to produce positive results. Even if we are not confident of the exact physiological response, the results of thousands of athletes speak for themselves. Don’t be fooled by internet writers looking to take a contrarian stance to get site hits. Focus on results. Massage works and so does foam rolling. Just ask anyone who does it.

PS- Quick note. I have often said that the density of the roller corresponds to the density of the athlete. If you lack muscle, try Yamuna balls or white soft rollers (yes, I know they don’t last, but it’s a compromise). Progress to the Perform Better black as your tolerance improves.

It’s Not the Program, It’s the Coaching

Posted in Random Thoughts, Updates, Training, Training Females, Uncategorized, Youth Training with tags , on April 11, 2012 by mboyle1959

I wrote this for my site but, wanted to share it with a wider audience.

Sam Dadd, one of my senior coaches at MBSC thought the concept mentioned in the title would make a great article. The discussion began, as many do, with a question in a staff meeting. Why does an assistant go to a new program, institute the same program used in his old job, yet fail to get similar results? Or, why when a head strength coach moves on and the assistant takes over are the results not the same? The obvious answer would be talent however I think that is an oversimplification.

My response to the question was simple and to the point. It’s not the program, it’s the coach.  In the football world legendary coach Bum Phillips described another legend, Paul Bear Bryant’s coaching this way . “He can take his’n and beat your’n and take your’n and beat his’n.” In other words if you and Bryant switched rosters, in a year he’d beat you with your own team.

A good coach with a mediocre program is much better than a great program and a mediocre coach. A program is a piece of paper or a file in a computer. Programs cannot motivate or create accountability. A piece of paper can’t figure out what is inside a person and how to get that out. A great coach can do all those things. A great coach will teach, motivate, and create an accountability system. He will figure out what makes each guy tick and then use that knowledge to get results. I have said for years that all of our programs are the same. Our base philosophy never changes. Want to get fast, run sprints. Want to get strong, lift weights. The difference is in the selling. The difference is in knowing what makes each athlete tick.

Another legendary coach, the late quarterback guru Tom Martinez, described it this way in the book Outliers. “Every kids life is a mix of shit and ice cream. If the kid has had too much shit I mix in some ice cream. If he has had too much ice cream I mix in some shit”. Martinez knew that there was a different key to every lock. To paraphrase Dan John, the key is to find the key.

Bottom line, there is a reason that strength and conditioning coaches Mike Woicek, Al Miller, Rusty Jones and Johnny Parker had a team in almost every Superbowl for about a 15 year period. They were great coaches who got the best out of their players.( Importance of the Strength and Conditioning Coach )

There is a reason a coach like Phil Jackson succeeded in circumstances as different as Chicago and LA  . Coaching matters. Coaches change lives, programs don’t change lives. The people will always matter more than the paper.