Fitness Favourite

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-By Anne Lindert-Wentzell

Thirty. Just a number. Or so it seems – to most.

Yet ask an historian, archaeologist or economist what thirty means to them, and you may get the following responses: The duration of the Thirty Years’ War which saw the growth of secularism in 16th century Europe. The number of uprights forming the Sarsen Circle at mysterious Stonehenge. The number of years in which major periods of economic growth and technology progress.

Ask Mark Garrahy, Marketing Director at Workout World, what thirty means to him and his response would be – a milestone in the field of fitness; an enthralling achievement.

With the global financial crisis impacting industries, particularly retail, Workout World has maintained its strength in the fitness industry, staying a giant leap ahead of the competition. The Workout World chain celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. It’s ranked the top fitness equipment retailer in Australia. With its strong relationships with global leaders in quality fitness equipment, such as Avanti and Octane, Workout World has established a trusted partnership not only with its suppliers, but the all important consumer. “Having a 30 year brand story, we’re not the boom or bust type that exists in the marketplace. We’re based on strategic growth… Our suppliers value our input because of our passion. We want to represent the best manufacturing brand of fitness equipment in the world, while at the same time developing our own products and maintaining a service reputation that has brought us to be number one,” says Mark.

Workout World currently has 34 stores nationwide employing a staff of over 200. Most of the company’s fitness staff are certified trainers, others are experienced fitness enthusiasts. Some buyers are neophytes in the fitness arena, unaware of what equipment best suits their goals. The rest know exactly what they’re trying to achieve with a specific piece of fitness equipment. Says Mark, “We don’t try to pitch something randomly in our stores. We want to talk about a person’s goals, whether it’s to increase their fitness or decrease their percentage of body fat. They’ll need to look at the most effective equipment for their needs and goals. It has to be something they’ll realistically enjoy using, making it a regular habit.” All potential buyers are shown appropriate equipment for their goals and can utilise the equipment beforehand. A “try before you buy” mentality is paramount in the Workout World model. “It’s quite an interactive time for our customers with our trained staff. They can make an educated buying decision.”

There are those that approach Workout World out of necessity – results of a stress test may recommend, under doctor’s orders, to improve their fitness level and cardiovascular capacity. For the overweight, shedding pounds while toning the body is the main motivator. In Australia, as with most of the developed world, heart disease is the biggest killer. Many people have too much stored fat which requires the heart to work harder. More than 17 million are overweight or obese nationally, making Australia one of the fattest nations in the world; obesity has more than doubled in the past 20 years. It has overtaken smoking as the leading cause of premature death in the nation. If the weight gain trend continues, at its current rate, by 2020, 80 per cent of adults and a third of children will be overweight.

The prevalence of obesity is greatest in the 50-59 age group. “There’s a huge percentage of unhealthy people in the ageing population. Heavy taxes and ad campaigns against smoking and drinking doesn’t stop people from abusing food… Being in the fittest industry we feel responsible and want to make a difference to combat this health issue by thinking smarter for the next 10, 20, 50 years. We need to act now,” emphasises Mark.

Other obesity issues aside from cardiovascular disease include musculoskeletal disorders, cancer and type two diabetes. It’s been proven that in the case of diabetes, weight training improves the way the body processes sugar by increasing glucose utilisation, by as much as 25 per cent, sometimes in a time frame of only four months.

A culture of fitness has to originate with the youth, Mark says. There are certainly obese adolescents who, “get alienated and bullied at a young age… they isolate themselves, which leads to further abuse and a sense of hopelessness. That cycle needs to be broken. The next generation has to be educated about the benefits of a healthy, happy lifestyle. Adolescents need to be set on the right track early rather than trying to combat 40 years of bodily abuse. Body time for exercise is the key.”

The elderly are not exempt. They need to incorporate a fitness routine into their daily lives, if only to combat osteoporosis and improve their cardiovascular health by increasing their strength and mobility. Those in rehabilitation after a coronary incident or an accident will also benefit from a fitness program, however light it may be.

Mark also notes that the attributes derived from a regular fitness program go beyond the physical. The emotional and psychological benefits are overwhelming, namely in the form of released endorphins, the ‘feel-good’ hormone. Regular exercise is a healthy habit; it’s contagious. The endorphin release should be called the ‘fittest bug’ namely because, “The extra energy that comes with exercise and endorphin release is phenomenal… Everyone needs to experience that from a young age.”

Mark believes the success of the Workout World fitness chain has much to do with its focus on quality equipment, service and ensuring the buyer derives the best possible user experience from the equipment. Proper use gets results and maintains motivation. At Workout World, this is achieved within the framework of having qualified instructors on hand to introduce equipment and help with its selection according to the buyer’s specific goals. Having an open discussion with Workout World’s goal-driven staff ensures that “appropriate questions are asked, allowing buyers to have a reality check.”

For those with concerns about required space for a home gym, Mark reassures that any home, even a small apartment, can accommodate the company’s fitness equipment. Most equipment features space saving designs such as fold-away multifunction units. Many choose to convert garages or attics into their own fittest retreat; some fitness studios can be incorporated into an area three metres square. An effective home gym combines cardio equipment with weights, providing training at a variety of intensities and fitness levels. “With us you’re getting quality equipment that you’ll look forward to using. You can fit exercise into your day whether you’re a morning or evening enthusiast. You can plan your day without leaving your home.”

Workout World is testing its model overseas – specifically in the U.S. In an effort to expand its footprint, the chain has already opened three stores in southern California, in what is considered one of the most influential parts of America. Says Mark, “People who have a passion for fitness have aligned themselves with our brand. The customer experience is one aspect and the user experience of our products is the other.” He reiterates that the intent is not to take over the American marketplace. Rather, it’s seen as a broader retail push to assess the American market’s enthusiasm for the company’s equipment. “We saw a lot of similarities in southern California to the Australian market in terms of active lifestyle. If you have a reputable brand that’s built its name on success stories, you have the confidence to take it into America.” Mark believes that this is the beginning of the evolution of exercise and, “the best thing is a good reference.”

Workout World is proud to affiliated with a Loser. The Biggest Loser, that is. In partnership with Fremantle Media Australia, in 2006, Workout World became the official fitness equipment supplier to the highly motivational and successful series. Workout World provides the fitness equipment at all three of the show’s fitness camps. The company’s equipment is paramount to the show’s success – and it is able to boast one of many success stories to prove it.

Adro Sarnelli, Australia’s Biggest Loser winner on the show’s first series in 2006, lost about half of his body weight at the Biggest Loser camp. He attributes his successful weight loss to Workout World’s equipment, healthy eating and developing the mindset to be an achiever. He’s transformed proof that with the right equipment, training and meal plans, anyone can attain their weight loss goals. As to his continuing relationship with Workout World he says, “I’ve had a relationship with Workout World since being on the Biggest Loser. With Workout World, you can trust that everything they have stands up to what they want it to do. Most of the staff are into fitness, they’re not just sales people. They’re body builders, weight lifters, runners. They know their equipment because they use it.” Adro agrees that Workout World’s equipment utilised on the Biggest Loser had “a brilliant functionality. We were always given quite a diverse range of exercise and activities… sometimes we would use the treadmills without the power, just running on the belt as a different method of training.”

Ardo’s experience as the Biggest Loser enticed him to initiate his own obesity rehabilitation centre, The New Me, Australia’s first for those over 100 kilograms. All of the equipment utilised in his camp is purchased from Workout World.

As to reaching his own fitness goal he says, “For me, the weight loss, becoming fit and the training, changed every element in my life. I’m a totally new person. The other person that was inside me is no longer there. It’s fantastic to enjoy life,” reflectively adding, “It’s great to not just live, but to be alive.”

Workout Work is not only about commitment and achieving results. That certainly has gotten the company to number one in the past three decades. But one other element has been vital to the company’s success. “Those that are passionate about what they do, go on to get a stronger name. That’s always been our mission,” concludes Mark.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

January 18, 2019, 3:35 AM AEDT