On October 6, 2017, fitness professionals in Chicago gathered for the first FitFam Friday event, created by Fitness Formula Clubs as a way to foster a sense of community among the fitness industry in the Windy City.
“It was born out of the spirit of inclusion,” said Jeff Riney, the vice president of operations for Fitness Formula Clubs. “We don’t look at other operators as competition in the market, but rather other members of the fitness family. We’re all in this thing together. Eighty percent of the market doesn’t workout, only 20 percent does, so there’s plenty of business to go around. We wanted to figure out a way get together. It’s essentially industry night for the fitness industry.”
FitFam Friday occurs the first Friday of every month, and is a mix of education, camaraderie and fun. The event kicks off with a panel discussion, followed by a Q&A, workout and then networking hour.
The first event drew over 100 people, with the panel discussion centered around “Making Fitness A Career.”
“In hiring people who have been bouncing around from place to place, we just felt there was a need to really shape the future of the industry, whether people are working for us or not,” explained Riney. “There are trainers who’ve had bad experiences at clubs or studios who think it’s a dead-end industry, who don’t make it what it could be for them personally. We’re just trying to go by the mantra of ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’”
Although the event was founded by Fitness Formula Clubs, Riney said the goal isn’t to serve as a recruiting tool or to elevate the brand in any way. He explained the goal is to just create a space where fitness professionals can get together, exchange ideas and problem solve as a group. “A lot of club owners and operators come to events like this, but there’s time and travel associated with that, so just to have something local at every level of the industry, we just thought it would be neat to do,” he explained.
The first two FitFam Friday events have been well received, especially from boutique or independent studio owners, said Riney. “With independent studios, there’s a hyper competitive perspective on the industry and people are very nervous about sharing best practices and keeping their cards close to their vest,” he explained. “The fact somebody is opening up a chance for them to come and interact and saying, ‘We’re not competing, there’s enough business to go around,’ was a very welcome message from most.”
The third FitFam Friday event will take place December 1st, 2017, and will be centered around the theme of fitness programming.
“The response has been fantastic,” said Riney. “Everyone we’ve talked to about the event has been super excited about it. It’s a neat thing to do. We’re having fun with it.”