Over this past week two developments relating to fitness have put a crimp in plans of some of us wishing to continue exorcising aspects of poor health.
The first occurred in the Federal budget which was introduced this past Tuesday. For reasons which seem to defy logic, the new Liberal government is proposing (which, given its majority, means there’s little chance of stopping it) to eliminate a tax credit for minor age children enrolled in fitness related programs. Considering the ever-increasing cost of equipment, or often just enrolment fees, this credit has helped many Canadian families absorb at least some of these expenses. Moreover, the fact of its being in place has helped draw attention to promoting children to engage in physical activities which involve more than just manual dexterity.
The second issue relates more to adults, a local one in Ottawa (but no doubt played out variously in other cities). The YMCA location in Nepean, on the second floor of an otherwise fairly dormant shopping mall, was officially closed yesterday, after two decades at the location. Why? Reasons offered included complaints of noise reverberating below the weight-lifting area, unfavourable conditions to be imposed in a new lease, etc.
What is clear is that a popular, economic, and well-ventilated venue for healthy exercise is gone, and consequences have ensued:
– Those of us who were members had the option of transferring membership to another YMCA location in the city; the ‘nearest’ is in the basement of another shopping centre, with low ceilings, no outdoor windows, and an oppressive odour contributed to by a chlorine-dosed pool near the entrance
– Those of us who were members not favourably disposed to the transfer option have to explore other facilities; from our own anecdotal experience, the choices run between clean and more expensive or dungy and less expensive; one option we did briefly explore involves the first location in the city of an American chain – which we considered until the poor, disorganized treatment we received in concert with attempting to use a free day pass
– For the mall in which our YMCA was located, already with few retail drawing cards, the foot traffic will be diminished further, and its shaky base of occupants will suffer even more
Business lessons to be learned here:
– If an organization is making a major product or service distribution change, have a clear, reasonable explanation, and a comparable alternative, if you want heretofore loyal clients to stay with you
– If an opportunity to expand your clientele arises thanks to circumstances which impact a competitor, have your staff and facility prepared to have their collective best foot forward to transform the competitor’s former clients from qualified prospects into new customers
– When your facility is in transition, and dependent on foot traffic for business, try to find a compromise with establishments which can help you, rather than hurting you if they themselves are damaged by your direction
Meanwhile, no matter how you look at it, these exercises of the past week have to be declared at this point lose-lose propositions.