I would like to share my thoughts on the tragedy that took place at the Equinox in Coral Gables, Florida this weekend. A trainer who was dismissed came back and shot the manager and another trainer, killing himself in the process. What a senseless, stupid shooting; destroying lives in the path of selfishness. However, I think there are some interesting issues that deserve some attention stemming from this tragedy.
For the last two years, I worked at Equinox. It was my first job after my move out here to LA. The platform it has given me both professionally and personally is profound. I’m grateful for the experience it has given me and wouldn’t change anything about it.
My role there was a membership advisor and I would recruit new members and maintain relationships with the member base to earn referrals. Starting off was a little bit rough; battling the learning curve, learning how to handle the culture and member personalities, and managing the hours and high sales goals. Regardless, I persevered, evolved my approach and attitude, and figured out how to kick ass and make my job fun. The skill-sets I learned here are probably some of the valuable skill-sets I will ever have. It has truly given me the foundation I need to take on my new chapter in life: starting a business. On a personal note, I have made life-long friends and have established a very well-to-do social network here in Los Angeles that most people would never dream of.
I certainly don’t condone the actions of this individual, place blame on Equinox, or place the fault of this shooting on anyone other than the shooter. However, I believe that there is a conversation that we need to address and that is the employer and employee relationship. There have been some serious struggles I faced not only during my time at Equinox, but also working under any corporate structure. Since when have we taken the human out of the employee?
There was a point in time during my employment with Equinox where I just wanted to throw my hands up, call it day, and look for something else. I was having a very challenging time managing my work life with my personal life. At what point is it not worth it anymore? I just want to make clear that I absolutely loved my colleagues and the support I had around me. What I struggled with was this one-size fits-all business structure and if you didn’t comply, you were dismissed. The club I worked at faced it’s own challenges that were beyond your standard Equinox. Thankfully I had a manager who did put his employees first, stood up for us, and challenged the big guys above us who gave us grief when we were not making our numbers. Guess what happened? We worked as a team, supported each other, and grew the business so significantly that we were awarded Turn Around Club of the Year in 2016. How about that?!
However, there were other things that were not in our control. Equinox is a super power when it comes to luxury fitness and there’s going to be sacrifices that come with that. I understand that and the work-life will never be perfect. However, people put their hearts, their soul, and their lives to succeed in this environment. You can be the most fabulous trainer or employee, well-liked, flexible, etc, but if you are unable to keep up with the high business goals the company demands, you’re out before you even realized you started. Now tell me, who does that benefit? The employee is now out of a job and never given the opportunity to thrive, management is left to look for a new employee and start training all over again, and the members get angry that they have new faces on almost a weekly basis.
This isn’t a challenge for Equinox alone, but corporate structures all over. The human no longer exists in the employee. The employee is now a pawn. Instead of cultivating the unique skills of individuals, manifesting creativity, and negotiating the needs of your individual employees, we hold people to the same stifling standards of a corporate office that’s across the country. People adapt and develop new skills at different paces. I saw some of the most talented trainers come through the door that could barely make 90 days. If as a company we really nurtured that person’s skill-sets, dialed down to the challenges that trainer had attaining new clients, what sort of long-term outcomes could we have had? Instead, it’s a very blunt dismissal based on numbers and numbers alone.
Business is business and there will always be standards that need to be met. What I am not suggesting is lowering standards, not holding people accountable, or relinquishing quality for the sake of someone’s feelings. What I am suggesting is we can improve both the quality and value of our work and work-life balance by simply better nurturing the needs and wants of the humans that we are in the workspace. When I feel valued, my best work comes out. I feel valued when I am given guidance when I make a mistake, not reprimanded. I feel valued when my employer listens to my ideas and my needs. I feel valued when my pay and benefits match my hard-work and sacrifice. I certainly had felt valued by my immediate team and environment, but not by corporate. This was a huge part of my decision to work on my own so I could best manifest my potential and creativity in the business world.
Let’s start evaluating our employer and employee relationships. One-size fits-all work environments are not conducive for anybody. We could significantly shift the quality of our lives by making these settle but important changes.