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Teaching the How — Not Just the Why — of Exercise


How to best serve the “other 80%” to ensure exercise at your gym leads to a lifelong habit, and not just another failed attempt at being healthy.

Today, many club operators are focused on attracting the “other 80%” of the marketplace who are not currently members of gyms.

However, as more and more clubs succeed in this effort, the fact is this consumer is a bit different than the ones a club may be used to. Many people in the “other 80%” may have never set foot in a gym before, let alone used a piece of selectorized strength equipment. They probably don’t know about the importance of engaging your abdominals when doing exercises like planking.

As a result, clubs need to be sure to not only emphasize the “why” of joining a gym and maintaining an exercise route, but also the “how.”

I’ve seen this first-hand in my personal experience when starting Pilates a few months ago. At first, I was simply doing the moves in an effort to keep my body aligned with my mind. Essentially, I was just trying to “keep up.”

As I’ve progressed and mastered the “moves,” I’ve since been able to devote more attention to proper movement — paying attention to my form and how my core is engaged when doing leg lifts, for example. That’s not even to mention mastering proper breathing techniques as you exercise — something I’ve just started to focus on three months in. The more and more I practice, the more and more things are clicking.

My point is exercising is easy. Becoming good at is not. Therefore, clubs need to ensure they’re educating this new population of exercisers on how to exercise properly. This will prevent them from getting frustrated and giving up, or even worse, injuring themselves. Patience in beginning a new exercise program is key.

With this in mind — and as your gym hopefully begins attracting more and more of the “other 80%” — here are some best practices and strategies to keep in mind to better serve this population:

  • Require new members without a history of exercise to work with a personal trainer at least once — albeit complimentary, if possible — or go through an onboarding seminar to learn the basics of exercise.
  • Educate members on the importance of proper breathing, and how to recognize if the muscles they should be using during certain exercises are the ones they’re actually engaging.
  • Check-in with members at the two-week, 30-day and 90-day mark — or even more frequently if staffing allows — to see how their program is going and what progress they’re making.

Attracting members of the “other 80%” to your gym is awesome. However, don’t stop there. Do your best to ensure this population is successfully onboarded into an exercise routine to ensure it becomes a lifelong habit, and not just another failed attempt at being healthy. This population needs care and empowerment to be truly successful.

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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