In today’s Industry Change episode I chat with Richard Beddie CEO of Exercise New Zealand about the journey. Richard has been in the industry for over 20 years, initially, he was a gym owner and eager to learn more he went to a fitness industry conference. He did this because he figured that people who knew more than him about the industry would be talking and giving worthy advice, so he went along and found the AGM for Fitness New Zealand.
How did you start this journey of running an organization and going global?
- When Richard owned a gym the first thing he did was go to a conference because he figured people who knew more than he would be talking and giving advice so he went along and found the AGM for fitness NZ. He asked a lot of questions and the next thing he knew he was on the committee and became the chairman. At the time he thought it was a great way to give his input and make an impact on the industry. He realized that his passion changed from owning his gym and getting leads to being about dealing with childcare because a the time it was a big industry issue with gyms regulation. He wasn’t being paid for this, it was all volunteer work.
What is Exercise NZ?
- Exercise NZ is an association that is about making a difference and supporting exercise professionals and facilities within the fitness industry. They are quite unique as an organization because they facilitate things like events and resources. It is the providers like personal trainers, gym owners, etc. that make the difference, and this is what Exercise NZ wants to support. They want to support the providers.
- Exercise NZ has the highest uptake of members in the association because they believe it’s all about asking: what do the providers of exercise want? It is about the long game with solving the physical inactivity that NZ has but it is about the short game with providers and supporting their problems.
- It is a Not for profit body and membership association. The members are providers of exercise, whether that be gym owners, personal trainers or fitness instructors, it is for anyone who works in the fitness industry. By being a member they get support, advice, advocacy from Exercise NZ and they get to go to events at a discounted rate. They are not about the commercial end even though many of their members are.
- The individual personal trainer, yoga instructor or fitness studio owner can do what they do with the backing of an industry association like Exercise NZ behind them. It is basically an insurance policy to help your fitness business run successfully. They can help you with the stuff you may not know, like the new laws, regulations, and governance that is important to comply with but many people won’t know or don’t have the time to focus on.
How did you take this concept of fitness industry standards globally?
- In 2001 Richard wanted to help develop standards for exercise professionals which are now the register for fitness professionals. New Zealand was the 3rd country in the world to have these standards.
- Some people are anti-standards but there is nothing to be scared about because professionals can always vote to change the standards that are in place.
- Richard once had a meeting in Lebanon and it was the first time industry competitors were in the same room. It is a very small country geographically but there are lots of gyms and personal trainers, however, there isn’t a lot with qualifications. This is an example of emerging standards as there are emerging training providers. It can be frustrating for those who are qualified if there are no standards because the qualification essentially has no value. Hence Richard gave them a chance to join an international grouping that have standards.
- Now there is the global association that means your qualifications can be recognized in 12 (soon to be 20) countries!
How do you lead to get everyone in the industry on the same page?
- From modern leadership philosophy Richard believes it is about asking ‘why’. Why are you trying to do this? What is the problem you are trying to solve? People will agree with the problem. If people want to debate it they want to debate the what or the how. If we say ‘but why’, people will not disagree with whatever the why is. If you can get people to agree with a concept, for example, helping NZ lose weight, then you can debate the what or the how. Everyone will agree to help NZ lose weight and if you are apart of the association you can have a say in this process.
- So why do they do what they do? It is to make sure an industry professional has adequate training. Once they are registered we know they meet a standard and if they are not good there is the association they can complain too.
- Richard is the instigator, he gets things started and he brings the right people in that will complement what he does. People make the mistake of bringing in people who are already like you. Richard stresses that you don’t need someone else on your team who thinks like you because you already have one of you.
What is the FitEx event?
- Between FitEx and the industry awards, there are over 1000 people around for these events. This number is huge considering there are around 5000 people in the NZ fitness industry. FitEx brings together the best in the industry, and have presenters that are the best in their field to see how they can support members of the industry in an active way. There are 100 sessions, 50 presenters and 11 streams to attend. It is an easy, cost-effective experience and Richard and the team are thinking outside the box to create a better experience for members.