The Mistakes True Fitness Made And A Wake-Up Call For Malaysia's Major Gym Chains

IMHO, nothing good comes easy.

Cover image via True Fitness

I was a member and trainer at True Fitness franchise for three years

I've been a fitness trainer for 16 years. I've been to various gyms over the years and I used to train every day in True Fitness from 2012-2015.

On 10 June, True Fitness closed down abruptly, leaving many of their members and staff hanging and understandably, very angry and upset.

In my three years of training there, what I observed on a near daily basis had me draw these conclusions that things weren't going to last. In 2016, I quit when my contract with them ended.

Me, on the left with members of True Fitness Jaya 33. On the far right is Terrence Teo, MuscleMania International champion.

Image via Ernie Tng

Here's my personal opinion on why they failed and what other major gym chains in Malaysia need to get right:

1. Strike a balance in your sales oriented culture

Members of True Fitness, and probably other gyms too, can relate to this.

When my membership contract was ending, they would suddenly hound me in the gym, and try to sell me the longest contract package possible, telling me how a longer contract would guarantee a cheaper monthly fee. They play on these sentiments so your urge to save money gets the best of you.

Once they sign you up, good luck getting them to listen to you, or make any necessary improvements in the gym.

These days I make it a point to pay my gym fees on a monthly basis no matter where I go; I don't mind paying extra. When asked why, I tell them, this keeps the gym on their toes knowing that if they don't adhere to a certain standard, I will leave.

Gyms seriously need to reevaluate the whole idea that chasing sales targets and figures are all that matter

They must start improving the gym and the operations itself.

I'm not talking about huge cost incurring improvements. Even the smallest ones make a huge difference when they are consistent.

There was one time I stopped going to a particular gym when they removed a clock that was essential for me to tell the time of my workouts. On the flipside, another gym I went to went to the extent of buying water for its members when their water-cooler broke down. I was very impressed!

2. Stop being disconnected with your staff and members

Truth be told, True Fitness in Jaya 33 had one of the best layouts for a gym that I have ever seen in Klang Valley. It was what first attracted me to them.

I forged many friendships there with their members and staff and I had some of my best workouts there. I loved the place so much I didn't mind braving the rush-hour jam to get there just to train. Through my personal ups and downs, I always had the gym to go to.

However, when I told them one of the rubber plates had melted and was stuck to the ground, nothing was done for months. When I told them about the bars and dumbbells being bent, nothing was done. When machines were out of order it took them weeks, sometimes months to get them fixed. The list goes on, you get the idea.

I don't blame the staff. Truth is, it's not their fault. There's bound to be equipment wear and tear. If anything, I pity their staff because they didn't only have to deal with the complaints of their customers, they were also powerless to do anything about it. True Fitness Jaya 33 had some of the most passionate trainers and members I have come across. However, being put in that situation, anyone in their right mind would have quit.

The actual owners of the gym need to at least be occasionally (preferably often) present at the gym

They need to be there to actually train and be truly passionate about fitness and exercise instead of just looking at a bunch of figures.

They need to understand what it feels like to prepare for the gym with hopes of having the best workout in your life, only to have to deal with a lot of disappointing frustrations.

3. Don't fake your passion

One day, you'll meet someone who's truly passionate and you'll be thoroughly embarrassed.

Judging by how True Fitness handled their last few remaining days - how they left their staff hanging with months of unpaid salary, and how they were still getting their consultants to sell (longterm, mind you) memberships right till the very last day - it's pretty obvious they were out to make whatever little money they could and make a run for it. It felt as if they never had the intention of truly improving people's lives or sticking to real passion for fitness.

In the past, I've had offers by investors to open my own gym, but I turned them down knowing the responsibilities that would come with it. I knew that if I ever opened a gym, I had/wanted to be personally there to oversee the place. I could never bear to think of the disappointment of letting my staff or my members down in something I believe so strongly in and am so passionate about.

Here were some people who thought that with lots of money in their hands, they could use their flashy appearance and sales tactics to make a killing with the recent boom of the fitness industry.

Shame on you, your staff and members trusted you.

Newsflash, guys. Nothing good comes easy. Ironically, anyone who's ever trained hard at a gym would know that.

The full article originally appeared on Ernie's blog.
This story is the personal opinion of the writer. You too can submit a story as a SAYS reader by emailing us at [email protected].

Read more about True Fitness ceasing all operations in Malaysia:

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