05 Apr The Pursuit of Excellence and the Beginnings of Innovative Fitness

The word excellence carries different meanings for different people. For myself, excellence exemplifies the highest level of performance relating to achievement (personal & professional). Having said that, the pursuit of excellence is as much a mindset as it is an outcome. A mindset in that it requires patience & the 4D’s; discipline, dedication, determination & desire. Chances are, if you have ever pursued excellence in one area of your life, you are wired to achieve it in others. Why do anything half-assed when you know what it feels like to do something very well?

It was 1995 when my partner and I graduated from UBC in pursuit of professional excellence. Faced with two options; teaching and training, the prospect of entrepreneurialism superseded our need to be ‘safe’. We would open our personal training company with the mindset of ‘becoming the best’. Given the chaotic, unrecognized & unregulated personal training industry one might think the quest for business excellence would not be overly difficult – but to the contrary – it was difficult.

Unlike a personal quest for excellence, where the onus is on individual investment & achievement, business excellence is predicated on ‘team buy in & team achievement.’ Imagine if you will, trying to preach & teach delayed gratification to a generation of instantly gratified prospects, in a me-centric industry, where the perception of excellence is wrapped in being ‘the’ celebrity trainer? We often found ourselves swimming upstream. As well, in business unlike traditional sports teams, the ‘season’ is 24/7, 365. We didn’t have the luxury of a recruiting period, off season, or post season. It’s every day – every play, shift on the fly, whatever it takes!

Our pursuit of excellence was predicated on ‘the buy in’ from those who gambled to embrace the vision. How would we succeed?

Step 1. We only took the right people.
Step 2. We made ‘the job’ about them.
Step 3. We provided them with constant feedback & support.
Step 4. We invested time with them
Step 5. We celebrated their achievements.

Step 1. We only accepted the right people.
If excellence was our benchmark and it was contingent on the delivery from others, we would need to ascertain where to find ‘excellent’. We quickly learned it was impossible to walk around with a crystal ball and determine him / her. Excellent became the person who embraced our ideologies and systems as quickly as possible.

Step 2. We made ‘the job’ about our team mates.
Level 5 leadership is no longer about what one can provide for & to themselves. It is about what one can provide for and to others. If we wanted authenticity from our team mates, we would have to demonstrate authenticity to our team mates. The goal of this ‘job’ quickly became having people leave our organization better than they came, meaning – skillset, acumen & experience.

Step 3. We provided our team mates with constant feedback & support.
Beginning with asking how they wanted to be managed and how they preferred we deliver the feedback, we established a transactional feedback structure. There were no hierarchies or ego’s and we continually illustrated the power of team vs. the misnomer of individual in the work ecosystem.

Step 4. We invested time with them
We asked every franchisee we could “what did it for you?” and the #1 response was the time we invested in & with them. This wasn’t a façade, it was a genuine desire to help them achieve their own level of excellence. This wasn’t a job and we were not just the bosses. We walked the talk.

Step 5. We celebrated their achievements.
It was very simple. We told people when they didn’t do a great job with instruction on ‘how to’ and we told people when they did a great job in front of as many people as possible. Celebrating individual & team achievement is a very powerful motivator.

In short, the aforementioned steps have greatly helped us achieve a level of unparalleled excellence in our industry. By constantly exemplifying that ‘our attitudes in anything are our attitudes in everything,’ it is our hope to support as many team mates (and subsequently customers) on their quest to personal & professional excellence.

Matt Young
Co-founder of Innovative Fitness

Matt Young Co-Founder of Innovative Fitness

About Matthew Young
President, Innovative Fitness
Matthew Young has a work schedule that would exhaust someone half his age, but for him, his work is all play. Young is an accomplished athlete, coach, personal trainer and business.

Matt Young is obviously keen on leaving his personal stamp on the health and fitness industry. Co-Founding Innovative Fitness in 1995, he was instrumental in developing the IF vision from a single customer to 7 personal training facilities across the Western Canada and the United States using IF’s patented Lifestyle management business systems. For his achievements he would be recognized as one of Vancouver’s & Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 business leaders.

Not one to reside in the past, Matt co-founded Digital Shelfspace in 2007, an online fitness content delivery platform with the intention of ‘enabling every person to experience preventative health care with accessibility, affordability and accountability’. Young also practises what he preaches and then some. He’s run 10 marathons, two Ironman races and five half Ironman’s, has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and set a Guinness record for the fastest cross-Canada bike relay.

If you need prescription to the proper program for you, need that extra bit of accountability or just have a question that needs an answer, email matt@innovativefitness.com

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