“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify them or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy. How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people. While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

That was the original ad copy from Apple’s famous 1997 “Think Different” campaign. One of the people who worked on that campaign gave me a framed copy of it, which proudly hangs on my office wall.

Is it any wonder that those words reflect Apple’s leader, Steve Jobs? And, even more important, is it any wonder that it reflects the feelings of Apple’s loyal customers, like me?

I’m one of those crazy ones, a misfit, a rebel. I definitely am not fond of rules, because if someone makes them, then they can certainly be broken. How many times does a company’s staff respond to our complaints about their products or services with that old line, “Sorry, those are the rules.” And I answer every time with, “I make the rules at my company and allow my staff to break them when appropriate to satisfy my customers.”

I see things differently too, and have no respect for the status quo. Visionaries and innovators like Steve Jobs have taught me to “think different,” which has helped me tremendously in my marketing career.

Upon Steve’s return to Apple in 1997, when the company was in trouble, he said to his team, “Our goal is not just to make money, but to make great products.” Who in the health club industry shares that goal? Certainly not the majority, which may be one of the big reasons why 85% of Americans don’t step foot inside fitness centers.

Unfortunately, the health club industry has not figured out how to deal with the fact that most people don’t want its “memberships.” Even when people do join, 42% don’t come back after 30 days. Further surveys have revealed that the health club industry is the 3rd worse business for retention. That’s sad considering there is nothing more important on earth as people’s health and fitness.

In response, gym owners have created cheaper memberships and “no contracts” to get people to join. We continue to find new and old ways to make money. We don’t make the fitness experience better, just cheaper, which still is not winning over that 85%. So, time to ask, “What would Steve Jobs do?”

For starters, Steve would build incredible gyms with genius bars. Just look at his 300 Apple stores around the world, which are packed with excited people day and night. He would use his brilliant marketing to move and inspire people to WANT to workout in his gyms. Steve would never copy someone’s “low cost” model. He would not advertise price, because he always believed, as I do, that if price is all one focuses on, people will think that’s all you have to offer. As Steve resuscitated the music industry, he would get with all the fitness associations around the world, like IHRSA, and motivate them to start a real fitness movement. “Got Fit?”

From Apple’s beginning, Steve set out to make products that would help us become more productive and more creative. With every release of an Apple product, he made you feel like a kid on Christmas morning. Now we camp out overnight on the sidewalk outside Apple stores waiting for our new toys. People even wait in line for a new Apple store to open. When was the last time you saw a line around the block waiting for a new health club to open? Thanks to Steve, we listen to music again. Thanks to Steve, we take our kids to see Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall E, Up, Cars and all his other movies that emotionally connect with us.

Thanks to Steve, he knew what we wanted before we did. No market research, no surveys, no focus groups – never. He often said, “People really don’t know what they want until we show it to them.” He knew instinctively. He trusted his instincts. Steve looked at other products in the marketplace and said, “We can do better.” That mantra gave the world the best computer, the best portable music player, the best notebook, the best smart phone, the best tablet, the best apps, the best music download site, and the best animated movies. The hits just keep on coming.

Steve Jobs always challenged himself and his team to make something better, even it was one of his own products or services. To Steve, it was all about simplicity and ease of use, while making sure it was designed like no other. All of that comes with a price, a price all of us Mac fans gladly pay because we too want something better. So do people who are overweight and obese, but they are not knocking down our gym doors.

If you own an Apple product or know someone who does, isn’t it amazing how passionate we are about those devices? How many people brag about their membership at your health club?

How many of your members are like us Apple users, trying so hard to convert people? In the health club industry we have so many member referral programs, but they seldom work.

Apple became the most valued company for one simple reason, the CEO wanted to change the world. He did, and by doing so, he changed our lives. And for that, we have always loved and respected Steve Jobs.

That’s why people the world over shed a tear when he died. Have you ever seen more news about the death of a CEO, or witnessed millions of fans around the world putting flowers and Post-It notes on his stores thanking him for all that he did for them? I bet that most health club members don’t even know who the owner of their gym is.

We have taken the passion and excitement out of our health clubs and reduced it to a commodity. People would rather take diet pills, or drink “magic potions” or even have their stomach stapled than come into a fitness center and lose weight the right way.

If we don’t think differently, we may all become irrelevant one day and wonder what happened. It’s time to rally around our own Steve Jobs in the health club industry. Yes, we do have our own visionaries and innovators, but we need more!

Time to “Think Different.” Time to “Think Steve.”