The Truth About True Fitness Malaysia
(and a heads up to other major chain gyms)
Having gone to various gyms over the course of 16 years of training, I was a member of the recent True Fitness franchise (I trained there almost daily for 3 years from 2012-2015) that abruptly closed down overnight, leaving many of their members and staff hanging and understandably very angry and upset. In my three years of training there, what I observed on a near daily basis already had me drawn these conclusions that any moment they were going to fold up, hence I quit in 2016 when my contract with them ended. Here is my personal opinion as to why they failed, and I hope the remaining big chain gyms listen and learn a lesson or two from them.
1. Strike a balance in your sales orientated culture.
I'm sure everyone who was ever a member at True (even a few other gyms) can relate to this. When my membership contract was ending and they would suddenly hound me every single visit I made, trying to sell me the longest contract package possible, telling me how a longer contract would ensure me a cheaper monthly fee (they play on these sentiments so that your urge to save money gets the better of you). Once they sign you up, good luck getting them to listen to you much less make any real change necessary in the gym. These days I make it a point to pay my gym fees on a monthly basis no matter where I go, I don't mind paying extra. When asked why, I tell them, this keeps the gym on their toes knowing that if they don't adhere to a certain standard, I will leave.
Gyms seriously need to reevaluate this whole idea that chasing sales targets and figures are all that matter and start improving the gym and the operations itself. I'm not talking about huge cost incurring improvements. Even the smallest initiatives when done consistently make a huge difference. Believe it or not, I stopped going to a particular gym because they removed a clock which was essential for me to tell the time of my workouts. Another positive example was when a gym that I went to bought water for its members when its water cooler broke down, I was very impressed.
2. Stop being so disconnected with your staff and members.
Truth be told, True Fitness in Jaya 33 has one of the best layouts for a gym (I have ever seen) in Klang valley, it was what first attracted me to them. I forged many friendships there with their members and staff and we had some of my best workouts ever. I loved the place so much I didn't mind braving the rush hour jam to get there just to train. I had my ups I had my downs but I always had the gym. It's almost nostalgic when I look back.
However, when I told them of the plates sticking to the ground due to the rubber melting nothing was done for months. When I told them about the bars and dumbbells being bent, nothing was done. When machines were out of order it took them weeks sometimes months to get them fixed. The list goes on, you get the idea.
I don't blame the staff, truth is it's not their fault, there is bound to be equipment wear and tear. If anything I pity their staff because not only do they have to deal with the complaints of their customers, they are also powerless to do anything about it. True Fitness Jaya 33 had some of the most truly passionate trainers and members I have come across, however being put in that situation anyone in their right mind would have quit or be burnt out.
The actual owners of the gym need to at least be occasionally (preferably often) present at the gym, to actually train and be truly passionate about fitness and exercise instead of just looking at a bunch of figures. They need to understand how it feels like being prepared to go to the gym with hopes of having the best workout in you life, only to have to deal with a lot of other disappointing frustrations.
3. Don't try to fake about your passion, because one day you'll meet someone who's truly passionate and you'll be thoroughly embarrassed.
Judging by how True handled it's last few remaining days, how they left their staff hanging with months of unpaid salary, how they were still getting their consultants to sell (long term mind you) memberships right till the very last day. It's pretty obvious they were out to make whatever little money they could and make a run for it. They never had any intentions of truly improving people's lives or any real passion for fitness.
In the past, I've had offers by investors to open up my own gym but I turned them down knowing the responsibilities that come with it. I knew that if I ever opened a gym I had/wanted to be personally there to oversee the place. I could never bear to think of the disappointment of letting my staff or my members down in something I believe so strongly and am so passionate about.
Here were some people who thought that with lots of money in their hands, they could use their flashy appearance and sales tactics to make a killing with the recent boom of the fitness industry. Shame on you, your staff and members trusted you and this is how you repay them.
Newsflash guys...Nothing good comes easy. Ironically, anyone who's ever trained hard at a gym would know that.