Prior to working in the fitness business (or even during your time in the business) did you have a bad gym experience? Did it drive you away or just drive you crazy? You're probably not alone.
Is the gym supposed to be an exclusive club you have to earn your way into or an inclusive movement where the unfit and unhealthy feel confident to take their first vulnerable step to rejoin our gyms?
Think about the unfit potential clients who drive past your facility daily. Their past bad gym experiences follow them around, making them feel like they weren't good enough, skinny enough, fit enough or lean enough to be in a gym. That's why a lot of them avoid stopping in for your free trial for fear of being judged, alienated or slighted.
But when the gym becomes just a place of fancy bells and whistles, it can make for a bad gym experience, especially if coupled with dust bunnies under the dumbbell racks,sweat stains on the benches, weights permanently disorganized, certain stenches filling the air, and unfriendly front desk staff who text or surf social media rather than greet members.
When the gym becomes a gathering place - a movement - it changes people's lives, and it changes the community it serves.
When we seek to bring back to our gathering places the unfit and unhealthy clients who had a bad gym experience, we must rethink our messages. To help you with this, consider these questions:
1. Have you ever had a gym experience where you felt judged, alienated or rejected? How did that experience affect the way you view gyms?
2. Do you tend to view the gym as an inclusive movement or an exclusive club? Explain.
3. How are you unintentionally judging those outside the gym or putting requirements in place that they need to meet to feel comfortable coming back to the gym?
As you answer these questions, look at the marketing you do.
Who are you really speaking to in your marketing? Is the skinny person in your ad really the person who walks into your gym daily? Are the fancy rows of machines speaking to the unfit person who had a bad gym experience or does it just add to the intimidation factor? Is being the cheapest ticket in town tempting enough to get someone with a past bad gym experience to put down the remote and walk back in your doors?
There are more questions than answers here, but it's enough to start a conversation that one day turns into a movement to help our communities rediscover our gyms after a bad gym experience.
What's one way you can change your messaging to create an inclusive movement that invites those with a bad gym experience back into your facility?