Operations: Why Do Some People Hate the Gym?
It’s a well-known fact health clubs only reach a small percentage of the U.S. market. This is a good and bad thing. Yes, it’s unfortunate clubs aren’t reaching more people — but on the flip side, at least there’s room to grow.
The thing is, figuring out how to penetrate further into the market is tough. For many Americans, working out is an arduous, boring and sometimes embarrassing process. How do you get people who’ve never joined a gym before to step foot in your doors?
The answer to that question may lie in learning a bit more about the psyches of those who avoid the gym. Why do they hate the gym in the first place? What’s keeping them away?
To find answers, I asked my mom, who had a surprising (and funny) response. “Going to the gym is similar to going off to die — you want to do it alone. You don’t want an audience seeing you struggle.”
More seriously she said, “You don’t want the pressure of having to keep up with the Jones and you don’t want to feel worse about needing to get in shape than you already do. A lot of times you just feel inferior to the people who are already fit and have it all figured out.”
To me, this makes complete sense. I think we can all relate to the feeling of being embarrassed, self-conscious or like we don’t know what we’re doing. And who wants an audience to those feelings?
With this in mind, clubs need to figure out ways to minimize those negative emotions in new members. Here are some things that may help:
- On Day 1 of a member’s journey, provide them with a complete overview of all gym equipment and how to use it. That way, they won’t avoid certain pieces because they aren’t sure how to use it. They’ll also avoid the embarrassment of using a piece of equipment incorrectly.
- Offer a buddy program. Create opportunities for new members to be paired with other members with similar fitness goals/interests. That way they can learn together and have a built-in support system.
- Provide a basic fitness program, even if they’re not doing personal training. There’s nothing worse than a member walking into your gym without a plan. Ensure they have a program to lean on so they don’t feel like a fish out of water.
Most importantly, remember what it feels like to be a newbie — it’s not fun. Do whatever you can to make those new members feel comfortable and welcome, or else your market penetration will continue to go in a negative direction.