Fitness First, inept management, and transparent bastardy

In which I discuss a situation at my local gym where FF employs the wrong people, ignores stupid decisions they make, and manages to piss off the people they shouldn’t which ends up being detrimental to their future customers (especially if they read this) and also their brand.  Makes you wonder if they’ve taken note of what’s happening politically in the world over the last few years.

Note: I have a meeting with the FF State manager later today as enough effluent appears to have hit the air circulation device that they’ve become involved.  I’ll post an update to this afterwards.

I have been participating in group fitness for about twenty years.  During that time I’ve learned a lot about how gyms work by watching and asking questions of both instructors and management.  A friend – and GFM at one of my former gyms – has since bought two gyms and turned them into very popular and successful concerns; I’ve learned a huge amount about the inner workings of the fitness industry from her.  Not to mention all the insanely talented people I’ve met and been lucky enough to befriend over the years after we burned a lot of calories in the same studio.  I also spent a dozen years working in the IT departments of large banks.  They are heavily political and you soon learn to read between the lines of what people say compared to what they are actually trying to achieve for themselves.

I also developed a music app which is used by instructors.  I originally built it in order to learn iOS coding and to help resolve a couple of issues I saw during classes.  To keep it up to date I keep a close check on what the programmes are doing and how they should be taught.  Feedback for the app has been generally positive and it must be doing something right as Les Mills now recommend it to their instructors.

When I returned to Fitness First (primarily because of the BODYJAM classes) I had a couple of chats with the incumbent Fitness Manager.  He admitted he knew very little about group fitness; that was probably why he soon departed.  There was an advertisement then placed for a GFM for the club.  My (now gym-owning) friend did look at it but said that the terms were ridiculous given that the relatively low salary included doing five unpaid classes per week.  Whether this was a deliberate attempt to ensure that no properly trained GFM would actually take the job and therefore would mean a generic Fitness Manager would need to be appointed again I am unable to say.

So we ended up with Andrew (all names have been changed in order to protect the innocent).  As with new staff arrivals I like to talk to them to find out their views on certain issues.  They claim to want feedback so I’m more than willing to provide it.  Since the only things I do are the group fitness classes they are my main concern.  I sent a few emails with suggestions about classes and other areas of the gym on how to engage people more.  Small things, mostly free things, requiring only a small amount of time and effort at most.  I suspected things were not going to go well when he told me that “the instructors are only concerned with turning up and getting paid”.  As contemptuous, dismissive, and wildly inaccurate remarks go that one is pretty near the top.  That it was said by the manager to a paying customer is gobsmacking.  I studied psychology at university.  The term ‘projection’ jumped out when he said that.

An experienced instructor was brought in to assist him for a while.  Immediately there were brilliant launches of the new Les Mills releases.  The room was decorated, there was promotional material around the place, class numbers swelled, and everyone had a great time.  It was a bit of effort expended by this ‘assistant’ which had excellent results.  Then she left and so did all of the things she had brought.

Over the years it has struck me that group fitness classes are the best way to keep existing customers.  They use little equipment, they build up their own communities which keeps people coming back, and they don’t make huge demands on the gym.  An instructor, a stereo, and a reasonably clean room is all that’s needed.  And occasionally a bit of effort made for a special launch just to show those members they are not being taken for granted.

There was a set of launches last years in which some effort was expended – but that was due to an instructor who was as sick of the situation as the members and decided voluntarily – and unpaid – take over most of the GFM role.  I’m not sure how the rest of the of management team viewed that but I suspect with the same indifference and lackadaisical attitude as Andrew.  Sadly that instructor then obtained a full-time job which meant he was unable to continue.

At the start of the year we turned up to a class minus an instructor.  It turns out she was in Costa Rica at the time.  A few minutes after the start time I went to the front desk.  A couple of minutes later Andrew walked in.  “Where’s Rochelle?”, he asked.  He was proclaiming to the class that he did not know where the instructor was.  Except he did.  And for at least six hours beforehand.  I have a copy of the email conversation with timestamps.  So rather than admitting there had been a problem and apologising he tried throwing blame on to someone else.  Then he made a show of ringing someone up, talking, and hanging up before informing the class that “Pete was meant to be covering but due to a miscommunication he couldn’t make it tonight”.  So no class.  There are a number of problems and resulting pieces of fallout with Andrew’s ‘performance’ which will be described later on.

Before we left I did ask Andrew why there were posters of Sh’bam up on the walls.  “Because they look good”, was his reply.  Since I’m an annoying sod I asked that since he was advertising that particular programme when we were going to get it in.  He then asked what that programme involved.  Let’s just think about that.  A person ostensibly responsible for group fitness has just asked what is the concept of a programme made by the biggest provider of group fitness products in the world.  I would have thought knowing what products are available would be the very first piece of knowledge needed as a GFM.  Anyway I did explain what the class involved.  Andrew’s somewhat puzzled response was to ask how that class would make people measurably stronger.  At that point you realise that if someone is asking that type of question they are not going to understand the answer.

It seems the fundamental problem with appointing those with a PT background to look after group fitness is that they are unable to see that people do classes for fun – the resulting fitness improvements are an added benefit.  They attend Combat to relieve a bit of stress by throwing punches and kicks and suddenly realise their core has become stronger and their shoulders have some definition.  It’s not because they consciously decided to do 500 boring crunches and to lift some weights; they did the equivalent while doing something enjoyable with people they know while music is blaring out.  I’ve worn heart rate monitors during Jam and Sh’bam and it’s the equivalent of a 30 minute jog.  Without the tedious running bit.  People dance and get benefits of improved coordination, better proprioception, and a decent cardio workout with them realising they have worked so hard.  The other issue with group fitness is the confidence that comes from doing the classes.  I’ve seen many who start out hiding in the back row, struggling with coordination and timing, improving through the months and working their way forward.  Like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis.  When I was last a member here in 2009 there were two very shy and timid women at the back of the room.  They are both now instructors.  On stage and having fun yelling at me.  Getting fit doesn’t only involve certain muscular and circulatory systems of the body – it has a lot to do with the mind.

Unsurprisingly for a method of fitness that is very social a lot of instructors and participants use social media.  So within 15 minutes of the class being cancelled we had most of the story; 24 hours later all of it.  Which is why I wrote something on the Fitness First Facebook page about what had happened.

I have to give credit to FF for being willing to leave up pretty much all of the criticism they receive on their Facebook page.  I’ve seen other organisations with far thinner skin.

The following Monday arrives and I’m waiting outside the studio for it to open.  Andrew arrives.  He is not happy.  He’s “very disappointed” about what I wrote.  I notice he doesn’t say that I’ve actually written anything untrue.  I ask him who he called on the phone the previous Thursday.  He said it was Pete.  I reply “so if I ask Pete to look at his call history there’ll be one there from you?”.  He asks if I’m an investigator for Fitness First; certainly an unexpected response but one that perhaps betrays his state of mind.  He then goes into a self-aggrandising spiel about all the other equipment he’s bought for the gym (all of which is outside the GF studio – and also completely irrelevant to the issue) before walking away.  He then returns five minutes later saying that he actually called John.  But if he called John why did he say Pete was meant to have been there?  Pete has a class elsewhere at that time on a Thursday.  John was on a flight overseas at that time so he couldn’t have talked to him.  My friend (from an Asian background) who has overheard this conversation notes that Pete and John are both Asian as well and “perhaps Andrew thinks we all look the same”.

The obvious reason is that he already knew the class wouldn’t be on.  There are a number of options that could have been taken:

  1. Put up a sign at the front desk saying the class was not on for tonight.  The best way of dealing with customers is to forewarn them of changes as early as possible so they can plan.  Seeing a class is not on is annoying when arriving.  Changing and then being told ten minutes after it should have started is even worse.
  2. Apologise for it.  My parents always taught me to accept responsibility for your mistakes.  Learning to do so is a necessary skill of life because mistakes will always be made.  The best managers will always accept the public blame for mistakes of their employees.  They will also allocate praise publicly to their employees.  The worst type of managers – and there’s a few of them in the IT world too – will always absolve themselves of any responsibility when anything bad occurs but happily claim the credit for anything good.
  3. Put on another class.  The GFM is usually the last resort to cover a class.  They usually are able to teach a number of programmes.  At worst a freestyle circuit could have been put on instead as I can’t imagine every PT was busy at that time.  That may have taken a quick bit of thought and effort but isn’t that the whole point of management?

Fast forward six months.  There are *still* Pilates machines strewn across the front of the group fitness room.  Not great for classes like BODYATTACK which require a lot of movement.  Two years – yes, twenty-four months – earlier I had raised that issue with Kevin, the Club Manager.  “They will be gone next week”, he proclaimed.  “When I say something will be done it gets done”.  It seems to – but it takes one hundred times longer than he originally stated.

There has always been a tension at the gym that Fitness First are looking to remove the group fitness classes.  This wasn’t helped by Kevin’s previous club being one where all classes were removed.  Whether it was because he was instructed to do so or it happened due to ineptitude doesn’t fill the members of this gym with a great deal of trust or confidence.

But now we reach the main issue that displays a level of cynical cack-handedness and braindead stupidity that makes you wonder just how the implementers of it are able to walk and talk at the same time.  Pete’s class was flagged as being ‘on watch’.  This is something that happens occasionally if the numbers in a class are lower than desired.  Usually the fans of that class will make an attempt to turn up a little more frequently and it stays on the timetable.  In this case a certain number of classes were flagged.  Well, just one.  A single class.  Which wasn’t the lowest attended one.  In fact it had been running with that instructor for about eight years and still pulling in between 20 and 35 at 7:30 on a Wednesday night (his supposed target was to average 20).  But the instructor was Pete.  Remember him from the missed class at the start of the year?  He’d followed up my post on Facebook with one that was mildly critical of Andrew at him being unfairly blamed for something in which he had no involvement.

The proper way to get rid of something in politics is to bury it among a lot of other things.  Want to get rid of a single instructor because of a personal bias?  Flag five classes and announce at the end that 80% of them are staying.  Highlighting only a single one – and a popular one at that – only shines a spotlight on the underlying reasons and makes them apparent to all, despite how many denials you make.

This was exacerbated by being informed there was a six week period in which the class would probably stay if it met the attendance target of 20 participants each week.  It had 24 and 35 (I counted) in the first two weeks – and considering one of them was the night of the opening ‘State of Origin’ game that was pretty impressive.  Yet it was cancelled before week five.  So the numbers weren’t the issue?  It appears not as suddenly this notice appeared:

notice

So a claim of a six week review which was an excuse for a personal vendetta is now classed as something that should be celebrated.  Perhaps Kevin and Andrew are learning politics.  Shame the proles weren’t buying it.  The Fitness First Facebook page copped a battering.  Various examples (locations and names replaced to protect the guilty) are included at the bottom of this page.  All the writers of these posts are women.  Most have been members for years.  They only do group fitness – even if it leaves Andrew wondering how they will ever improve their strength.  The common themes of the posts are that Andrew is inept and that Kevin doesn’t care.  That does sound like a fair bit of middle-management I’ve known over the years.  That’s also given credence by this review left by a former employee (I think I know the person; they were really good at their job and if FF employed more like them they’d be in a far better place).

seek

The responses from FF were as best you could expect. I do feel sorry at times for the people who have to handle the social media accounts as most of the stuff they receive is negative.  I’m the support person for my app so problems tend to dominate – although the responses when you resolve an issue for the person can be wonderful.  Still if I can give a suggestion to the Facebook people it’s that if you are cutting-and-pasting responses it’s best you ensure (a) it’s relevant to the actual question you are meant to be answering and (b) you change the name of the club to the correct one and not leave it as the one in the previous answer you gave (you’ve done that more than once).  Otherwise it hurts credibility.

Some took the approach of emailing the management directly.  It certainly showed the people on the Facebook page seem to have a far better idea of what customer service means.  A number of people have been kind enough to send me a copy of their emails.  The responses do appear generally dismissive.

The first (see section at the end of this page) was an interesting one from Andrew as it said that the instructor was responsible for bringing in new faces.  Today (12th July)  I looked at the club’s FB page (the GFM is supposedly responsible for updating it).  The last mention of Group Fitness was from 20th June and that was was a long piece (neither author nor source provided) which kept pushing small group training (and a very utopian – and thus fictional – story it was as well).  Prior to that was a picture of the notice of the Jam class being put on deathwatch (7th June).  The most recent bit of promotion on there for GF was 31st May for a flouro-themed cycle class.  Scrolling back there were lots of mentions of SGT and weights and PTs but you have to go all the way back to 24th March – four months ago – to see any mention of group fitness – another special cycle class.  But, lo, on the 23rd of March we see a promotional picture for a new BODYSTEP release.  Stealth marketing at its finest.  It seems Andrew is advocating that group fitness instructors (most of whom have full-time jobs elsewhere) do all the promotional work.  In that case we need to question what it is that Andrew – who is responsible for group fitness, remember – is actually meant to do as part of his job.

Firstly, according to his email, they must “have consistent adherence”.  There’s actually a full stop after that.  I’m reasonably familiar with managerial-speak but I have no idea what that phrase means.  “Pete has had no creativities over the past few years in the club creating fun events or  member experience occasions”.  That is a flat out lie.  And hypocritical seeing as Andrew has never been seen inside the GF studio other than to fix the stereo or lie about Rochelle & Pete.  It seems that five instructors turning up for Jam class launches (most are not paid on the day), dressing the place at their own expense, or getting in the rather lovely lighting guy who turns it in to a nightclub for free doesn’t fall under “creativities” (he’s been in twice, Andrew.  Last time on the Sunday just gone.  Go on, tell me his name.  Nope, just another thing you don’t know).  I will admit chuckling at the self-unaware irony of his next line: “Just like any other job if you aren’t performing as an employee then you will be under review“.  Then he goes on about revenue (a slight shock as FF gave me the impression of having successfully moved away from their ‘Finance First’ name in recent years).  The Jam licence – like all Les Mills ones – is based on a venue.  So this class costs nothing extra for that.  The only additional cost is the PPCA and APRA ones.  They are a combined total of about $5 a class.  So his argument on a financial basis is that the 20+ people who normally attend that class are not worth Fitness First paying 25 cents for.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard more specious arguments – and we’ve just been through six weeks of electioneering.

The response from the person who originally sent the email manages to say that and more in a far more economical and scathing manner (see ‘Customer one’ in the email section at the bottom of this page).  Six weeks after replying to his vapid response she has still not received the courtesy of a reply from Andrew.

Someone else sent a complaint to Andrew – (see ‘Customer two’ in the email section at the bottom of this page) – and received exactly the same email as the person above.  As in identical, cut-and-paste, ‘give them any old twaddle so they’ll stop annoying me’ reply.

A later email was sent to Kevin, the club manager (see below).  A template reply and a fortnight later no courtesy of a response from him either.

Another complaint to Kevin – notice how they’re going up the managerial chain because they are not receiving an acceptable response from the person who should be providing one?  When that has to happen it’s a failure of Kevin and those above him in the chain – see emails below.  That was met with an almost identical response to that received by the person above.  The line “Also any Maintenance issue in the club will be passed on to our maintenance team and will be resolved” was replaced “I will do my best to meet your fitness needs“.  Otherwise it was the same brush-off.

At least with the Facebook people they respond within a day.  The club management apparently take a little longer.  Although we’ve already seen the hundred-fold time dilation that seems to exist in Kevin’s world (perhaps he lives near the event horizon of a black hole) so perhaps the last sending of the emails may be graced with a reply from him somewhere around 2019.

Like a lot of the people mentioned in here I go to other Fitness First gyms.  They’re a lot more difficult to get to than my local club, though.  Being there you get to see how the management works at those other places.  And the obvious thing is that it’s a lot better than at my local club.  They seem to care about group fitness.  Probably why they get 70+ people in Saturday morning classes.  I’ve heard a rumour that Andrew is claiming to head office his instructors get 40 people in a Pump class.  Which is impressive given there’s only 31 bars (I counted last week) in the group fitness studio.  For the most part it’s been a brilliantly fun time at FF – the BODYJAM classes for which they pay the original music licence are primarily the reason I came back and Pete’s classes have been one of those joys – but the yin-yang aspect of all things that means that balances having to deal with the malicious, indifferent, incompetence of Andrew and the obvious middle-management PHB stylings of Kevin.

Join Fitness First for the group fitness classes – even this raging cynic knows they are great value and most of the instructors are brilliant (especially Pete) – but avoid my local club until they get rid of the problem dickheads currently squatting in management.

 

Facebook Posts

Dear Fitness First,

This is extremely disappointing to see that Pete’s Wednesday night class has been cancelled. As you can see by other member’s posts, we are extremely upset to see a great class and instructor go.

The members would like to see the Group Fitness Manager “cancelled”, he doesn’t care about members loving Les Mills classes. I have not seen any improvement, only him target certain classes and get rid of them totally. Also Tuesday’s 6:30pm Body Attack was popular, you then got a bad instructor, numbers dropped, then the class got cancelled – nothing got replaced.

The club has developed a bad vibe and atmosphere with all the egotistic managers, personal trainers and I don’t like it (members can see what’s going on). These managers don’t care about people’s health and fitness one bit; they just care about their big egos.

How did the club “get here” I ask. I ask for your assistance, the club needs Head Office and for you to take in what members are saying.

Thank you

My Wednesday 7.30pm jam class jus got cancelled, was promised a 6 weeks review, but cancelled in less than 3 weeks, HARDLY FAIR!!! been in this class every week for the past 7.5 years, we are devastated! Seems the club does not listen to its members after all. Very disappointed

What is the point of putting posters up and saying ‘ if the numbers improve over 6 weeks’ we might keep this class , if you already cancel Wednesday 7.30pm bodyjam with Pete before the 6 weeks is up ?? Fitness first claims they ‘appreciate your feedback ‘ , I find that hard to believe

Wednesday’s body jam class is my favourite class and I really enjoy it every time after my stressful day at work. Unfortunately , I just heard from my favourite instructor, Pete, that next week will be the last class of body jam and that the centre has decided to change it to another class thereafter. I’m really disappointed about the decision which the centre has made. The class is always packed and I can see all the participants really enjoying Pete’s teaching. I’ve written to hope the centre will reconsider to change the decision and bring my favourite class back!!!!!!

I’m extremely disappointed that the club has decided to take off the Wed night Bodyjam class despite many member feedback opposing this. We were told that the class was under review but the club has decided to cancel the class before the 6 week review period. This class has had high attendance and has been a well liked class for many years and to cancel it without much warning is very poor form from management who have paid little attention to member concerns. The club management has consistently ignored member emails and provided close to no feedback on the reason behind their decision aside from blaming innocent parties for their own incompetence.

I’ve been a member of fitness first for more than 10 years now and am horrified to find out that one of my favourite classes, body jam on Wednesdays at 7.30pm is at risk of being cancelled. I don’t understand why this is the case as the class is mostly well attended and the instructor, Pete is really good at teaching and keeping me motivated in the class and attending regularly. It would be a huge loss to my fitness routine if it was cancelled. And as it is also one of the main reason why I’ve remained being a member at the club despite living a distance away, I feel I would have to reconsider my membership.

I have been attending FF for the past 10 years and I have never felt this unmotivated about a group fitness program ever!!

I’m absolutely shocked that Body Jam on Wednesdays night is at risk – last night we had 35 ppl although not sure how safe that was with all the pilates machines at the front of the room and on the walls… And the floor was full of dustballs…

There are many other classes that have way less participants and less skilled instructors! Pete is a great and motivating instructor who delivers Body Jam with contagious enthusiasm and energy!!

I look forward to receiving a response from you as I have lost faith in the club’s Group Fitness Manager… He is clearly not doing a great job!

Can you please explain why this is the only class being targeted at FF? Pete is an awesome instructor and has been teaching for many years and I see the numbers being higher than other classes.

This sign also bothers me saying “to make room for new or more popular classes”. In the history of the club when a class gets removed it never gets replaced with a new class.

The Group Fitness Manager at the club is so out of touch with Les Mills’s classes at the club – I have never seen him teach one. Normally I see at other FF’s the Group Fitness Manager instructing a Les Mills class.

I would hate to see the timetable reduced to “Freestyle Group Training” classes only, they work out to be a poor 20 minute class. I work in a corporate environment, I love doing a 60 minute class with good music and good choreography – that’s what a Les Mills class provides. A HIT Freestyle Group Training has a rude instructor, in fact walked out half way (this was also the Group Fitness Manager) the and had a new instructor come in without any explanation, no apology, this class also had only three participants.

The main studio still looks like a hannibal lecter cross 50 shades of grey room that’s collecting dust – no wonder new participants don’t want to come back.

Does the Group Fitness Manager at the club really care about people, the studio, or is it just about numbers and revenue for him. I really love coming to this gym to do only Les Mills classes, I would hate to see this disappear into a 24 hour style gym with just machines.

I would really appreciate an answer.

Thank you

 

Emails:

Customer one – email received from Andrew:

We understand this may come as a shock to most members and we do apologise for taking something members love away but “at risk” just means that the instructor has 6 weeks to perform better. It’s not a definite removal off the timetable.

In the contract instructors sign when becoming an employee for us there required to prospect members, bring in new faces, hit average attendees and have consistent adherence. Just like any other job they have roles and responsibilities.

Pete needs to show his duties as an instructor which in his job is to average over 20 members in each class.

Pete has had no creativities over the past few years in the club creating fun events or  member experience occasions.

Just like any other job if you aren’t performing as an employee then you will be under review.

I hope this makes sense and you can understand this. As a company we need to look at our revenue line and what’s making money and what’s creating a loss. Just like any other business if a product or service is making a loss then as a business we need to consider making changes to what’s best for the company and for our members making way for newer and more popular in demand classes.

Unfortunately Body Jam is of least demand and it is our most expensive class to run in Fitness First. So you see we need to hit a certain amount of attendances’ and percentage of retention to keep the class running.

Body Jam runs 4 times in our week so cutting one in 6 weeks is something we need to take if the class shows no improvement.

So there will still be 3 other Jam classes you can attend.

I sincerely apologise again and we will be promoting this class via Face book and posters around the gym. From the instructor we need inside promoting, referrals from the regulars and other initiates that will impact and increase the participation. We can offer the members who participate free entry for their friends and family so they have a chance to bring in people they know to train together with.

After the 6 weeks if we don’t see any progress then unfortunately the class will have to go, but that doesn’t mean that in the future or later down the year towards summer in won’t come back. There’s always a chance of having Body Jam being put back on the time table.

Customer one – email response sent to Andrew (no reply received):

Whilst I appreciate your response to this matter, I do not quite understand your reasoning.

It appears you have singled out the Wednesday night Jam instructor Pete for perceived underperformance of their roles and responsibilities as the reason behind the class being put at risk. If the main factor considered for performance is class attendance numbers then what about the other group fitness classes that do not have an average of 20 members per class? The Pump class immediately preceding the Jam class on Wednesday night rarely gets over 20 members. Neither does early morning Pump classes from my understanding. Why are they not put on the list? Singling out one instructor in one program for class attendance numbers seems very discriminatory to me.

In regards to your comments about creativities and promotions as another performance indicator for instructors, the BodyJam instructors have always worked together and promoted the program and upcoming events as a group. Even if one instructor does not create the fun event, it does not mean they have not participated in support of other instructors. BodyJam is the only program I have attended where many instructors band together during launch. What other programs have 4-5 instructors team teach together at launch? Again, it is extrememly unfair to single out one instructor for non-promotion.

In terms of the cost-effectiveness of the class, my understanding is that Les Mills program licences are paid on a per program basis, not a per-class basis. It makes little difference to the costs if you cut a single class. The only cost saving would be the instructor’s remuneration. If you put another more ‘popular’ class on, you effectively have zero cost savings. How does that impact on the club’s revenue line? Cutting classes does not bring the club revenue, nor does disappointing loyal members of the club. I and the fellow loyal members will be putting every effort to ensure the class remains on the timetable.

Lastly, I find it highly inappropriate for you to effectively blame the instructor as the primary reason for the class being put at risk. I, as a member, do not care what your grievances are with the performance of your employees. You, as the Fitness Manager should be putting in the effort of satisfying your members to ensure continued support for the club, not airing out performance issues of your staff to members. That is highly unprofessional and reflects very poorly you and on Fitness First as a company.

Customer one – email received from Kevin:

Thank you for your email and feedback about the Body Jam Class. I understand that changes to class time tables and classes can cause some members disappointment, while others, enjoy the change and diversity.

Every quarter year, we review all the classes and class timetables, taking into consideration a number of factors. Class attendance, member requests, member feedback, timetable allocation, and budget are some of these considerations.

Currently, we are not saying that we will remove the Body Jam class on Wednesday,  but it is under a review, which involves an assessment based on the criteria, amongst other things, mention above.

The review is still underway, and an outcome will be communicated once we decide what changes the timetable will need to undergo. Please, in the meantime, continue to enjoy your Body Jam class on Wednesday evenings. I can assure you that Body Jam will continue to be available on our timetable where possible and viable.

I will do my best to meet your fitness needs.

I am happy to discuss this also if you want to meet up with me at the club.

Customer one – email response sent to Kevin (no reply received):

Thank you for your email response to my feedback. I have been a Fitness First member for many years and fully understand that classes are subject to review following low attendance numbers. There has been many instances when a class has been removed or changed due to low class numbers and generally the removal or change doesn’t come as a surprise to the class attendees. What I am concerned about is that this particular class appears to have been targeted unfairly and that the performance of the actual class in terms of numbers is not the driving force behind the review.

When I queried the reason why only this particular class was under review despite other classes, even other Body Jam classes achieving lower numbers, the email response from your Fitness Manager appear to focus the reason on the performance of the class’ instructor. I have attended this class for a few years now and haven’t seen any performance issues of the instructor. He has conducted his class with professionalism and provides energetic performances that propel the members to keep coming back. I do not agree that there are any performance issues with the instructor. I have attached the email in question for your reference.

I also do not understand why management felt compelled to outline the reason behind the class being put under review in terms of an instructor’s employment contract, their roles and responsibilities as an employee and their performance in creating events and prospect new members. I would’ve thought that performance issues of an instructor would generally be an internal matter between Fitness First and the instructor. Effectively blaming the instructor for a class being put under review is very unprofessional conduct by management and appear very discriminatory to me.

Also, the roles and responsibilities for the instructor seems pretty far-fetched from that email. Creating and promoting fun events and prospecting new members shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of instructors. Isn’t that what management and the sales team should also be doing? The last time there was any fun event involving group fitness at the club was probably back in June 2015 when we had a Jam marathon involving 5 instructors (which included the Wed night instructor). In my view, the instructor’s primary responsibility is to engage members in the class and provide a fun and challenging class which in this case the instructor has repeatedly done. The class attendance numbers have been in line with other classes if not better.

In my view, if a class was getting low attendance (which I don’t believe is the case for this particular BodyJam class), the Fitness Manager should be supporting the class by actively assisting the instructor through promotion of the class in the club or on social media, and communicating these plans to the members, not blaming the review on perceived performance issues of the instructor. Simply putting a poster in the club and a picture of that poster on a Facebook page is not effective. A lot of the members are not even aware that the class is under review. I do not see any effective management support for the instructor or the class.

Lastly, when will the Pilates Reformer equipment in the Group Fitness studio be moved or placed somewhere out of harm’s way? There is equipment strewn on the floor in front and the machines strapped to the sides of the room can cause serious injury to participants. When we had the new release launch on Wednesday 15 June 2016, there were around 35 people in the BodyJam class that night with very little room to move around without being in close proximity to one of these machines. Members risk bumping into them, tripping over them, and there are times when they sound like they’re about to topple to the ground.

Again, thank you for getting in touch and I would appreciate some feedback to my comments via email. The only time I attend the club Fitness First is on the Wednesday night for the BodyJam class, and on the occasional Sunday morning (also for BodyJam). I won’t be able to meet you in person during business hours as I do not work or live near the club.

Customer two – sent to Andrew (identical response to customer one received):

i notice today that bodyjam wednesday nite had a ‘love this class’ next to it. i was wondering why this was the only class highlighted. i attend around 8 of the evening classes in the club per week and i dont feel that the numbers in that particular class have been particularly low. it is my favourite class ive been attending for 6 yrs!?  and pete is an excellent instructor. is there a public facebook page i can comment to give my support and to see if others feel the same to encourage them to come more often?

Customer two – sent to Kevin (almost identical response to customer one received):

following up from my complaint on facebook i have a number of questions , if you could answer each of them

1. why is it i asked twice to GFM where his ‘promoting this class on facebook’ was , and first time didnt answer and second time no reply to my email?
2. who can i speak to at head office fitness first or human resources for the defamatory and untrue comments made about Pete? he is an excellent instructor and im sure if i emailed or posted the below comments on facebook and tagged all his followers/other GFMs they can provide testimonials.
3. three of the ceiling fans in studio one are not working.when will they be fixed?
4. i dont believe the numbers in the classes is a justifiable reason to put this class at risk as i do many of the classes myself and have been jotting down numbers in the past month and in no way is this class low attendance compared to others. if the numbers being reported to your head office is untrue i want to speak to someone there to share my own discrepancies
5. some other members have complained about the pilates reformers at risk of safety and ugly on the walls, when are these to be removed?
thank you and please allow me to share your reply to the rest of the class