Make yourself a health club prospect. What does joining and starting at a health club look like from their perspective?
At one time or another, this is something we’ve probably all thought about and discussed with our teams. By doing this, we are able to paint a pretty decent picture of what a newbie might be thinking, and figure out ways to make the process as low-stress as possible for them.
However, one thing this exercise lacks is the ability to duplicate what the prospect is feeling. We can probably take a guess at their thoughts but how do you accurately replicate the feelings and the emotions?
Make yourself a prospect in something new.
I cannot pretend this is some well-thought-out plan I intentionally went through to gain a deeper perspective. Instead, I stumbled upon this by pure accident one day while gasping for air, trying to recover from a pathetically short swim at a local pool.
In late 2019, I decided I was going to do a marathon and triathlon in 2020, even though running and endurance were never things I did or were ever good at. This, of course, was decided prior to COVID-19. After a good six months of procrastinating, I joined a local pool and to say I sucked would be an understatement. Having not swam laps since high school and coming from years of lifting weights, I was starting from the absolute bottom.
Then one day, it hit me. I was resting in the deep end holding onto the bar of the diving blocks — used by people who know what they’re doing. This is what it feels like for people who have never been to a gym before.
I found myself way more comfortable when the pool was not busy. When it was, I thought other people were probably watching me, thinking I was an idiot or making fun of how I clearly did not know what I was doing. I was unsure of proper etiquette regarding the lanes that were available to use. I was not sure what I should wear or what proper equipment could help me.
So I did what a lot of new gym members do: I watched videos online to try to figure it out.
The above scenario is one we’ve heard from new members time and time again at our facilities — we attract a lot of first-time gym people who have no idea what they are doing. There were people available at the pool who could have helped me and pointed me in the right direction, but I wasn’t sure what questions to ask and was worried what they would say.
How many of our new members feel that way? We have the resources and training programs available to help them — we just need to get the conversation started and let them know we are here. Once someone at the pool started talking to me one night when I was the only one there, they understood my situation and offered me some advice that finally got me moving in the right direction.
My experience has made me far more empathetic of our prospects’ situations and provided deeper perspective than sitting around a table brainstorming what it must be like for newbies. I encourage everyone to go challenge themselves with something foreign to them and see what you learn. Please let me know below in the comments if you have had any similar experiences.
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