Friday 24 November 2017

Shape Up: So, are you a Roy or a Ronaldo?

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Damien Maher

This will be another interesting year for the fitness industry. Changes will have to be made as consumers continue to face further economic challenges and reconsider where they invest their hard-earned money.

Fitness and health clubs, gyms, and personal trainers will need to adapt because there will be a major thinning of the herd. The strong will survive while the weak will be left like vulnerable prey in the wilderness.

Throughout a range of industries, serious success-minded entrepreneurs and business owners are investing in the right information and getting the coaching to take their business to the next level and beyond.

Imagine if we pitted a professional champion boxer from the 1960s against the champion boxers of today. It wouldn't even be a fair fight, would it? Today's athletes are stronger, faster, more resilient, train better and harder and utilise the services of coaches to hold them accountable and tell them where they can improve.


Today, there are only a handful of elite fighters who are making the big money. In fitness, there are only a handful of people going the extra mile and obtaining results.

Health clubs have been reducing their prices and are pursuing the high-volume, low-price segment of the market. As prices are slashed, margins are reduced and in order to keep the health clubs in the black staff members will either be reduced in number or in quality.

A knock-on effect will be that customer service is hard to maintain, so the gym becomes more impersonal and the relationship breaks down. Like any relationship, there is an inevitable parting and the gym member fails to renew their membership.

In America, the head of the Planet Fitness chain, Mike Grondahl, decided to discontinue personal training at their clubs. Planet Fitness always tried to keep personal training to a minimum as they felt many of their members had zero interest in it and those that were doing it were "just renting friends".

In America clubs like Planet Fitness have reduced their monthly memberships to $10 (€7.66) as the industry has made a definite push in the low-price arena.

A low-cost business model like this reduces the barrier to entry for many but what about a gym member's other concern -- results?

Fitness organisations like the American Council on Exercise predict that bootcamps -- another low-cost business model -- will continue to be a hot trend.

Here in Ireland the outdoor version will succumb to the weather and its participants will face the challenge of consistently attending classes. Consistency in training is essential for results. Many camps entail running around trees and performing 100 jumping jacks and press-ups.

These exercises may improve the fitness levels of beginners but for long-term success you need to progressively overload your body's muscles using weights to encourage it to adapt and change.

Bootcamps' strength, therefore, is in their social support but the lack of testing of results -- like regular weigh-ins, measurements or food diaries -- will reduce accountability and compliance.

Our recent snowfall put a halt to the outdoor runners, soccer and Gaelic matches and also bootcamps.

The American College of Sports Medicine's 1998 guidelines said that two weeks' abstinence from training could set you back 10 weeks in terms of your fitness but you could maintain your fitness if you did just one third of the work that got you there during this two-week period.

The people who achieve results and change their body composition this year will be those who are consistent. It's the same in every sport. Player of the year awards are not always won by the most glamorous and recognised player in each team. They are won by players who are consistent.


Goalkeepers and defenders consistently win these awards at clubs but are rarely recognised by the media week in week out. They may not give you a 10 out of 10 performance but they will give you a consistent one.

Roy Keane (below) was a model of consistency during his career as a player whereas Ronaldo could be spectacular one week then he'd be almost invisible the next. Training six times one week is not the same as training three times a week, on the same day and time, for two weeks.

You have a choice of where to invest your money to yield rewards. Your return will be influenced by consistency but also by the thinning of the herd. Invest in a trainer and a gym that is investing in itself. It will influence your result and save you time and hardship.

If you wanted to go to England you could do so by plane or canoe. One will take a short time, and may cost a bit more, but you are guaranteed to get there; the other will be a bumpy journey, fraught with surprises and hardships. That is a decision that will have consequences and one that you will have to make.

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