Industry Buzz: Creating a Female-Friendly Environment
Do women feel comfortable in your facility? According to a recent Reuters article, they may not, resulting in an increase in popularity of women’s-only facilities such as Curves.
Author Dorene Internicola writes: “Women-only gyms, once seen as the exercise alternative for out of shape women of a certain age, are actively shedding that reputation, fitness experts say … Young, professional women are discovering that female-only fitness zones can be what a morning of golf or shooting the hoops is to their male counterparts: a chance to network, negotiate and bond while working out.”
The good news is that women can find these bonding opportunities in your club — they don’t have to go to gyms such as Curves.
Linda Mitchell, the director of PR and marketing for Newtown Athletic Club in Newtown, Pa., provided a few tips for creating a female-friendly environment in your club. Part of her advice includes incorporating some of the things that women’s-only gyms, such as yes — Curves — have done well.
“The fact remains that if you want to create a female-friendly environment in your club or gym, you should give credence to what the women’s-only gyms have done,” said Mitchell. “You don’t have to have a women’s-only area to accomplish this. You simply have to pay attention to where women workout within your club, and how they feel in those areas.”
Tips from Mitchell:
- Pay attention to the type of equipment in your club, and its placement. Women enjoy cardio equipment — make sure that you place it so that women are not visible from behind to the weight lifting area. Many women will feel on display if you do that.
- Your color scheme counts — colors don’t have to be traditionally feminine (soft pinks or mauves), but should be coordinated and cheerful. Yellows, burnt oranges, tans, browns and beige work well.
- Playing music that is energizing, yet not heavy and invasive is recommended.
- If you have a large facility, you could create a smaller workout area within your club that is more intimate and welcoming than your larger cardio and strength area. This need not be devoted to women only, but it will be more female friendly by virtue of its intimacy, smaller size, smoother equipment and proper arrangement.
- To give women confidence, you could create a women’s-only introduction to strength training and hold small seminars with trainers to introduce women in small groups to the art of weight lifting. I recommend that you do this for free as a service to your members. You will have the chance to solidify their membership and sell them personal or small group training during these sessions.
- Be sure to heavily promote your group exercise programs if you have them. You could run a new member “smorgasbord” class that include 10 minutes of several different class types, to give members a taste of everything you offer. If followed with refreshments, you will have a chance to talk with members and learn what their goals and issues are.
- Finally, if you want to let women know how in tune you are to their needs, create some marketing materials that are included in your joining packet that point out all the ways in which women specifically can be comfortable and successful in your club.
By following these simple tips, you’re well on your way to creating a female-friendly atmosphere that encourages women to stay in your club, instead of going elsewhere. “The overarching message here is that you are probably more female friendly than you think,” said Mitchell. “A few tweaks and some gentle marketing, and you’ve accomplished your goal of making women feel valued and special.”
Rachel Zabonick is the assistant editor for Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at email@example.com. Reach out to her about exciting events or programs your club has implemented, or to share the amazing accomplishments of a member.