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Industry Buzz: Don’t Be a Business the Media Warns Against


TIME recently shared a video titled, “Joining A Gym This New Year May Be A Waste Of Money.”

The video warns consumers of the following: “Every January, tons of gym offer big discounts, prodding you to get a membership. But, experts say, it may not be worth it. A lot of gyms require an annual contract when you sign up. Around New Year’s this doesn’t necessarily scare people off, as many hope it will be an incentive to keep them active. However, for most, it won’t.”

The video goes on to state, “Gyms know many of the customers who get memberships because of a New Year’s sale will not come to the gym past January. They actually count on the membership revenue from those who never come to keep them afloat. Statistic brain reports 67 percent of people with gym memberships never use them. And NPR explains some gyms have layouts designed to attract people who will buy memberships but not come, through hiding hefty weight equipment in the back and having hotel-like lobbies to help them feel comfortable.”

Unfortunately, this video paints most gyms in a negative light. So how can you avoid being a gym the media (such as TIME) warns against? Following these steps might help:

1. Let your members know you DO hope they come to the gym, and actively encourage them to do so.

If you’d like to avoid the stereotype the TIME video displays, don’t just sign up a member, and then never interact with them again. Take the time to find out what their fitness goals are, and actively try to help them achieve those goals. Consider hosting member orientations or implementing a new-member buddy program.

In addition, make sure you’re keeping track of each member’s usage. If they do drop off after January ends, reach out to them and find out what’s going on. Are they no longer motivated? If that’s the case, offer them a free personal training session, or let them know about a new program you’ve recently implemented. Are they upset about an experience that happened at your gym with an employee? This is the opportunity to remedy the situation, one you may have been completely unaware of.

Many gyms claim to have the best interest of their members in mind and state they want to help them reach their fitness goals. But if you know a member isn’t coming to your gym, and you don’t find out why, is that really the case?

2. Foster community.

Gyms that foster tight-knit communities have members that attend their gyms more frequently. Although it may be hard to foster community throughout your entire gym, look to do so through sub-groups.

For example, encourage your cycling instructors to get to know members names if they can. If the instructor knows of two members who are new to the class, she or he could encourage those members to sit next to each other in order to share the new experience (and hold each other accountable to come back).

Although some sub-groups are more conducive to fostering community than others (such as small group training), it’s still worth the effort to try. By doing so, your members will be held accountable to each other, come to the gym more and hopefully reach their fitness goals faster.

How do you avoid the stereotype of gyms the TIME video portrays?


Rachel Zabonick is the Editor of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@clubsolutionsmagazine.com. Reach out to her about exciting events or programs your club has implemented, or to share the amazing accomplishments of a member.

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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