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The Real Reasons Why People Join a Gym

People join a fitness facility to get fit, lose weight and stay in shape. Right? Yes, but there are other reasons driving the purchase of a gym membership or personal training package. Know what your customers need and want, and make it your mission to serve them.

Education, Expertise and Trust

Why do people give up after contemplating a healthy lifestyle change? Confusion–it’s that simple. There’s so much information, advice and opinion available to the consumer—it’s easy to see why it can be so overwhelming. When potential exercisers meet with information overload, oftentimes the result is that they don’t take action at all. It’s just easier.

It’s clear that many people are still not exercising, so there’s a high probability that your next member will be a nonexerciser. Why does this person step through your front door? Primarily for the expertise your facility offers. It seems simplistic, but trust is essential when people perceive that they’re taking risks. Customers no longer want to be sold to; rather, they want to know that your service is a good fit and that you have their best interests at heart.

This may seem obvious, but it may not be your customers’ perception when they’re making a buying decision. If frontline staff are mainly motivated and/or directed to sell instead of educating potential members, your approach could appear inauthentic and hollow. Here’s an alternative plan, and it may not be easy to organize: Make your personal trainers available to answer the questions and concerns of new members and prospects. The more you educate and empower your customers, the more you get back.

Strengthen Community Ties

The next issue that’s becoming increasingly important, especially as our population ages, is community. Social isolation is a serious issue, and can lead to many health-related problems that have a wide-reaching effect. One reason people join a fitness facility is to feel they are part of a social network. In addition to having a fun place to meet people, members are engaging in healthy activities. Make sure your facility creates an inclusive environment where all people feel welcome. Take a look around and analyze what’s working to create a sense of community and what’s not. For example, do you have a nice office space with a comfortable couch where staff and members can sit and chat? Are there opportunities for members and staff to interact outside of the gym? I used to take my staff to art gallery openings and book readings. This helped create interesting conversations, and we saw each other as a community, not just staff and customers.

The relationship between personal trainers and clients becomes even more important as clients enter their golden years. Mix young, energetic trainers with older clients; it is good for both parties. It’s equally important to have older people on staff to reflect how everyone at every age contributes to a sense of belonging. An older workforce brings wisdom and fosters mentorship, which strengthens community.

The Happiness Quotient

Ultimately, people want to be happy. In most cases, a buying decision is rooted in the desire for happiness, whether the purchase is a vacation, a new car, a better house or new shoes; the underlying motivation for spending money is happiness. When someone is considering buying a membership or personal training package, she is imagining a healthier body. Why have a healthier body? To be happier and more satisfied with life. A healthy body is important to overall happiness and peace of mind. It’s hard to be happy when the thought of clothes shopping causes despair or when you’re in constant pain and discomfort. Some people even fear pursuing happiness because they believe the pursuit is selfish, impossible or both.

When you understand this fear and the desire for happiness, it’s easier to have empathy for customers and support them on their journeys to health and happiness. This desire for happiness is not only a possibility; it’s a necessity for a fulfilling life! Happy people create more happiness. Examine the need for happiness closely, and bring it up at staff meetings. Ask employees for ideas about how to make members happier, and also ask them what would make them happier. Recognize and acknowledge the many ways your staff is creating a healthier, happier world.

For more information on this topic, please see “Seven Reasons People Join a Fitness Facility, Part Two” in the online IDEA Library or in the October 2015 issue of IDEA Fitness Manager. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7


Concerned about your place in the new fitness industry? We have 40 years of experience supporting pros just like you! Let’s create a new wellness paradigm together—IDEAfit+ is the extra edge you need. Once you team up with IDEA, be sure to take full advantage of all the benefits of membership.

Sheena Bull

Sheena Bull is an author, speaker, entrepreneur, raving fan of exercise and outdoor junkie. Reach her at [email protected]

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