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Technology is Only One Part of the Innovation Equation for Gyms, Health Clubs, and Fitness Studios Today

Technology Is Only One Part Of The Innovation Equation For Gyms, Health Clubs, and Fitness Studios Today

Innovation is a term many businesses are focusing on today, with the purpose of being more competitive. However, innovation as a buzzword is one some people love to hate. While most leaders agree innovation is important, when it comes to what it means, there is some confusion.

If you ask Google to define innovation, it offers millions of results and hundreds of definitions. The dictionary doesn’t offer a clear answer either; “Make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products”. This article offers 15 different definitions from some leading experts on innovation. I’d like to think my definition of innovation is a good and practical one:

“Innovation is listening to customers and turning ideas into useful and reliable solutions.”

Being useful and reliable is an important consideration because ideas are of little value if they don’t work in the real world. This is counter to some popular thinking in a world where cool new technologies are popping up all the time leading some to think “innovation” means “technology”, yet those two things are simply not the same. Confusing technologies and their potential with innovation is a common mistake. In fact the users of technology and the practical business environments they are applied in are often left out of the innovation equation all together. This is one of the primary reasons why many efforts at innovation fail. 4 Myths About Innovation That “Gurus” Love To Tell, an article by Greg Satell with Inc. Magazine, is a great quick read that addresses many myths of innovation and why many initiatives fall down .

In other words outside of technology alone, other variables in the equation of innovation including humans, business culture, external threats, and real world operations can be ignored or poorly understood. Arthur M. Schlesinger once wisely said, “Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, tradition, and context frame our response.” Framing is a good word because it means you can’t pull off innovation very well without understanding its benefits and implications both in the near term and long term.

When organizations think of technology as innovation alone they open themselves up to great risks. Will the company they are relying on still be in business next year? What are the unforeseen costs and implications of the new technology ? Will the entire technology solution get thrown in the trash ? Will what you’re buying today, in the heat of the post-announcement, pre-ordering process, and hype become the next Google Glass or 3-D television? Remember the BetaMax ? Many businesses cannot afford to roll the dice considering these and many other questions.

Jim Collin’s perennial work Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t made important findings about companies he studied who represented greatness. An interesting point the book made was that when technology was used correctly it became an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it. A surprising fact that Jim Collins discovered while analyzing the great companies was that more than 80% of them didn’t rank technology as one of the top five factors for making a company great. It is hard to be “Great” by reacting to the latest tech fad and Collin’s research proved it.

In previous leadership roles and at ABC Financial today I am dedicated to finding the right real world solutions for our customers. This takes time, effectively understanding the market, all of the variables, and obtaining our customers’ feedback. Most importantly this takes discipline to insure that the human, operational, and practical aspects of systems and technologies we offer solves problems reliably both now and in the future. We are investing in new technologies and platforms, in a way that will be usefully innovative, relying on over three decades of experience and insights. We try and make sure the technology is working for everyone and that takes more than the technology alone.

So what should businesses do ? How can they best innovate in the context of my favorite definition ? Here are 5 things any gym, fitness studio or health club should keep in mind when it comes to creating effective innovation:


  1. Have a business strategy first and answer “How will we compete?”
  2. Adopt a purposeful innovation process.
  3. Think long term and resource the effort accordingly.
  4. Obtain feedback from trusted insightful partners and most importantly customers.
  5. Don’t treat assumptions as knowledge.


The best way to innovate is to solve problems that customers care about. Make sure those solutions are reliable and useful. Find a trusted partner to help you evaluate your innovation approach. In the end each health club, gym or fitness studio business model has to decide for itself how it will compete and technology is only part of the answer.


Corey Benish serves as President of ABC Financial Services. He has over 20 years of experience guiding companies through critical transitions while achieving strategic goals and rapid growth. Corey is able to translate corporate missions and visions into organizational strategies and projects to foster growth and operational efficiency. Having worked in private equity and public company environments across a number of industries, including fitness and health clubs, he has been able to build high-performing teams based on trust, integrity, and an unwavering focus on customer experience. You can follow Corey @TheCoreyBenish on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram .