I have only been in the health club industry for about 7 months now, not long at all compared to the people around me. That doesn’t add a whole lot of weight to my words (no pun intended) does it? So why take to heart the things I’m about to tell you? In the practical sense I have about 30 years of firsthand experience in the weight loss/health and wellness industry as a consumer. I grew up overweight, was that awkward kid that ate cereal out of a coffee mug so no one would know – sometimes food was my only friend. I blossomed into a heavy teenager, compensating for my looks with a sharp wit and an intense desire to please everyone around me. “She’s so nice, has such a great personality.” Yeah, I was that girl. On to my young adult years, I was up to almost 350 pounds. It wasn’t like the movies, there was no montage with a sad soundtrack that fast forwarded through my weight gain. I was present in every moment. Every bite, every time I drove the three blocks to work instead of walking, every time I told myself – Monday. I’ll start Monday. New Year’s is coming, I’ll eat what I want until New Years, then I’ll change everything. It’s Thanksgiving though, who wants to eat healthy during Thanksgiving? It’s my birthday! No one will mind if I eat half the cake, and so forth. A lot of you won’t be able to relate, and that’s ok. I used to be the exception, but unfortunately in this day and age my story is starting to become the rule.
At this point I should probably tell you that on August 24th, 2016, I reached my first milestone of 100 lbs lost. Yay me! How it happened… it wasn’t easy. I bounced from gym to gym searching for that golden epiphany for years, but was always turned off by the cold and empty feeling that I was just a mark on the dues line for the membership counselors and trainers I interacted with. Nothing stuck, there was no personal connection. I finally moved to Alaska for work at the end of 2010. I know our current and potential members aren’t going to move to Alaska and start hiking, it obviously won’t work for everyone, but it worked for me. I was in love! Not with a person, but with a state, and a new state of being. I could pick a trail, and just walk. At first it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I could barely walk up a single flight of stairs, but I put one foot in front of the other and got started.
I finally had my turning moment a few years ago. I was on a trail, embarrassingly easy for most people, but hell on earth for me. I was sweating profusely, panting, and walking so slow that it hardly felt like moving at all. Then I heard a voice behind me. “Keep it up! You’re doing great, good for you!” A very fit man on a mountain bike flew past me, giving me a thumbs up as he went. For whatever reason having a random stranger take just a moment to throw some encouraging words my way meant more than a lifetime of people who really loved me saying the same things. It was just a regular moment for mountain bike guy, a Tuesday if you will, but it meant everything to me. I picked up my speed, hiking harder and higher than ever before. My entire life changed after that. It hasn’t been easy, I still struggle on a daily basis, but I will never forget that moment, my catalyst.
That’s why I got into the business after all this time. I want to give my members those moments – just a second of contact that might change everything for them. I want to be that shift in their state of being, pass on the gift that was given to me. Medallia is the perfect vehicle for that change! When I went to Chicago for the MXM Institute I figured it would be a good introduction to the system, how to run the mechanics of the software, how to process the survey responses, help my team with reports and metrics, etc. I had no idea that the entire focus would be the customer experience and how to elevate it. I was enthralled the entire time, surrounded by industry people who genuinely cared about their members. We were there shoulder to shoulder, absorbing all of the information given in an effort to make sure we are providing the best possible environment to foster health and wellbeing. Medallia is a great conduit, the best way to have open and honest conversations with our members. They are talking loud and clear, and thanks to the program we get the opportunity to listen, process, and in turn provide those moments that could be life changing. If you get the chance to go to the institute, please do. It is your opportunity to get refreshed and reconnected with the reason you got into the industry in the first place. You’ll go home afterwards knowing that it may only be an average Tuesday in your club, the 100th time you answered the same question, the 100th time you caught the eyes of a member and gave an encouraging smile, but it might be a lifetime to the people you’re here to help.