Innovative Leadership & Inclusion- A Profile of Inclusive Management in Practice at a Fitness Center Part 2

Apr 15, 2011
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Inclusion is a process which is defined by individual need.

Creating a Culture of Change Starts with a Willingness to Try

According to Korey McCoy, “Inclusion means respecting the different levels of ability of the customer and providing accommodations for skills to grow.  Physical activity, recreation, and sports can level the playing field and create an environment where everyone can participate.”

When I encountered stumbling blocks with my designed program, Korey held informal meetings and consultations with his staff to assist in identifying what might work or what might need to be altered.  Part of this process included periodic reports from his staff and from me about my program efforts.

He knew for example about attempts to use a recumbent bicycle to tone my leg muscles and develop strength.  He knew the attempts did not work.  He permitted me to purchase a different set of pedals which were installed on the equipment to see if I could use the recumbent bicycle as part of my fitness routine.  Korey has also worked with me directly in a training and instruction capacity where he discovered first-hand what some of my challenges were.

He provided managerial support to his staff when efforts began to develop a functional walking program for me.  The premise of the functional program was using the outside environment and terrain such as hills and inclines to support balance development and functional improvement.  Korey authorized his staff to work directly with me outside to execute various modified agility and balance drills.

Mr. McCoy also sent his staff to training about disabilities, disability awareness, and inclusivity.  According to Korey, “Providing training about inclusion increases staff skills and talents and supports us to serve our customers better.”

Valuing Customer Feedback

As a member of Plaza Fitness, I have had discussions with Korey and his staff about small ways to improve the accessibility and inclusiveness of the facility.  Suggested strategies included keeping walking pathways free of obstacles or equipment.  What strikes me is after these conversations, changes happened at the Fitness center.   Aisles were cleared.  Portable equipment such as mats, weights, and fitness balls were strategically placed out of the walkway.  The Plaza Fitness center promotional materials and the facility website started to include language and phrasing about serving people of all abilities. The message relayed to new Plaza Fitness Customers is that the fitness center welcomes all people regardless of their needs.

Innovating Leadership to Inclusive Leadership

In five years, I have watched an inclusive leader develop and evolve. Korey McCoy was willing to take on the administrative, cultural, and practice challenges that my walking issues presented including  program development and modification.  He embraced the challenge and in the process created positive changes within his staff and his business.

Korey emulates inclusive practices through a customer-oriented approach, through direct interaction with his staff and customers, and by integrating feedback into practical and feasible adaptations.

The question now is: How can these traits be replicated in other fitness settings?

The seeds of inclusion begin with innovative leaders like Korey, who foster the idea, that inclusion as a concept is basic customer service.  Through strategies like meeting with the customer, having conversations, and working with staff and the customer to solve problems, inclusion is possible, feasible, and can truly be extended to people of every ability.

According to Korey, “Inclusion is about creating a sense of belonging and accommodating the needs of the customer.  Our business is about supporting people to feel better, increase their wellness, and to increase their physical activity.  Inclusion at its heart is about excellent customer service.”

About Korey:

Korey McCoy holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Washington State University and a Master’s degree in kinesiology from Indiana University. Prior to operating Plaza Fitness, he served as Assistant Director of fitness and wellness at Indiana University.

Author: Kerry