Follow the Fitness Leaders: Marjolijn Meijer, Urban Gym Group

In the latest installment of Club Industry’s Follow the Fitness Leaders series, Marjolijn Meijer, CEO of Urban Gym Group (owner of Trainmore, Clubsportive, TRIB3 and BTYCLB) in The Netherlands, offers her thoughts on how gym shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic helped the company discover untapped talent within its employee base, what she thinks about senior leaders, which trends are proving their strength in 2023 and more.

Meijer will be at Sibec EMEA Sept. 26-29 in Sorrento, Italy.

Q: During the past three years of adversity, what did you learn and how are you applying that knowledge to your business today?

A: We never get a period like the last few years. In the Netherlands, our business was closed for a total of 10 months, and then for the first time, you get to take the time with your entire company to grab important pillars and work them out in groups. Because we did this and everyone in the company was allowed to sign up for these strategy groups, we discovered talent in our own company that we would never have discovered otherwise. As a result, we professionalized our academy and developed very nice programs for employees to participate in. 

Q: What successes has your company had in the past three years, and what helped you create these successes?  

A: Focus, good crisis management, hiring very good senior people and a lot of positivity. A crisis always brings opportunities.

Q: We often learn most from our failures. From what failure have you learned the most, and what did you learn from it?

A: To cut back on good people. When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys, and it really is true. Hiring senior people with lots of experience and a good network and the right core values makes a very big difference to your business.

Q: What trends are you noticing in 2023, and how are you adapting to these trends?

A: Not really trends that are emerging right now, but trends that I see proving themselves now are reformer Pilates and strength training.

Q: If you had the ability to oversee the whole European fitness community, what would you change to move more people to exercise and to ensure governments understand the essential nature of this industry?

A: I would make sports tax free, and I would ask health insurance companies to reward people if they work on their health through exercise. 

Q: What are the top three most important criteria you look for when securing a supplier? 

A: First impression, whether there are a lot of young people working in the company who deal a lot with data, and the product should be able to be explained in three sentences.