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Sharing and collaboration are commonplace in today’s social media-driven world. But the lack of regulation means it’s all too easy for people to share information on fitness, health – and pretty much anything – without any factual backing. Combine this with standard challenges like keeping clients motivated, and there are problems in the fitness industry that can affect your business.
In this article, we’ll look at five of the most common problems this has created for gym owners and how you can address them. Skip ahead to:
The internet hosts some incredibly useful health and fitness information – But it also has some woefully bad advice too. The problem is that it can be hard for people to discern what’s helpful and what’s not. On any given day, at least three of the books in the top ten on Amazon are related to the latest buzz diet, celebrity-endorsed fitness, or new health and wellness trends. What sources do you trust? Which piece of advice is best for you?
While a lot of the inadequate information that’s spread over the internet and social media is evident to fitness professionals and personal trainers, the average person doesn’t have the same level of knowledge. Often, this means that they’re happy to jump on the latest fitness bandwagon – whatever it may be.
A lack of sufficient professional regulation further compounds the issue. For example, almost anybody can pay for an online personal training course. Hand over a few hundred dollars, attend the classes, pass the tests, and you’re good to go.
While this doesn’t mean that all online courses are uncredible, it does highlight that a lack of regulation makes it easy for anyone to become an “authoritative” health/fitness figure. In theory, it’s then easy for anyone to perpetuate the spread of misinformation to unsuspecting newbies. It’s unhelpful to clients and can unfairly tarnish industry standards.
Solution: Educate and Support Your Team
Prioritize education and growth for your team. They’re the face of your studio, and it’s up to you to lead on what your brand stands for and believes in. Keep your team focused on fitness facts, not fads. Share the information with members with events like health and nutrition workshops.
Promote helpful, evidence-backed advice across your social media channels and during interactions with clients. Authenticity and honesty will position your fitness studio as a leading authority and build a loyal, trusting, member base.
2. One-Way Approach
Social media is an excellent resource for finding like-minded people with similar interests. This is brilliant because no matter what your interests, you can find a community of people who support you and share your passion.
But social platforms can also have the unintended side-effect of polarising people. Forums and groups can quickly become echo chambers for one particular school of thought. And it’s especially prevalent in the areas of fitness, health, and wellness.
From Paleo to Keto and high-intensity interval training to spin classes – trainers and brands claim that their approach is the only way to reach your goals.
As a fitness professional, you know the truth is that different health/nutrition/training programs have their own set of benefits. You’re likely also aware that the dangers of subscribing to one school of thought are that no single training method or health ideology works for everyone, all the time. There’s not a “one-size-fits-all” workout!
Solution: Approach Members as Individuals
From your sales process to the entire member entire experience – always remember that each of your members is unique. They have different goals, different lifestyles, different likes/dislikes, and different motivations.
That hardcore powerlifting program that worked great for one client may not produce any results with another. If clients from your HIIT class are raving about how great the workout is – it doesn’t mean you should sell it to everyone.
Spread the message that different programs equal different benefits. It’s about tailoring strategies to suit the client’s needs. Chris Cooper, the founder of Two-Brain Business, notes that when it comes to gym memberships if you’re not selling based on a service that will help someone – they won’t stay.
Getting this aspect of your business right is crucial for growth and retention. But as Chris points out – it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You can listen to Chris piece those missing puzzle pieces together in this episode of The Fitness Founders Podcast, or read about them in this article.
3. Information Overload
Daniel Levitin, the author of ‘The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload,’ states that “we’ve created more information in the past few years than in all of human history before us.” You’d think that more information is better, but unfortunately, when there are too many options, inaction rears its head. It’s a paradox of choice.
You’ve seen the clients who keep changing their routine every few weeks. And you know the ones that aren’t doing it to push through a plateau.
Constantly being presented with the new and exciting way to get perfect results means that many people find it challenging to maintain enough consistency to reach their goals.
Just think about the kinds of questions you had starting out; “Is a full-body split or body-part split best for gaining muscle?”, “Should I eat six small meals or do intermittent fasting to lose body fat?” “What about getting a pump?” “Are carbs at night okay?”. A quick google search of “what’s the best workout program?” returns over two hundred and eighty million results – many of which offer conflicting advice.
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So, it’s easy to see why people are getting confused.
Solution: Ask and Listen
Asking and listening, as opposed to telling and selling, helps you to understand a client’s needs and avoids information overload. Encourage clients to ask themselves ‘why’ three times before they decide on an action or to add something to their routine.
It will gently help them realize that, more often than not, most of what you think you need to do is not as necessary as you initially feel.
Do you really need to stop eating after 6 pm? Do you really need to increase your training to 6 days per week? Asking yourself “why” allows you to challenge limiting beliefs and dig deeper into the root of the issue.
Along with teaching the evidence-based underpinnings of fitness, the power of “why” will help you fend off the mass onslaught of information and find a place of peace and progress amidst the confusion.
4. Elitist Attitudes
Fitness should be accessible to everyone. But unfortunately, many gyms are becoming places that are unwelcoming to beginners. Going hand in hand with the ‘one-way’ fitness approach, there’s a worrying trend towards fitness snobbery and increasing the divide between the enlightened people who ‘know’ fitness and the people who ‘don’t know.’ It provides a false sense of moral superiority that does nothing for anyone.
These attitudes discourage new trainees from dipping their toe into the world of fitness. The last thing you want as a fitness entrepreneur is to have prospects be turned off your gym because they don’t feel like they’re advanced enough.
Solution: Build a Community
Everybody has to start their fitness journey somewhere, and starting anything new can feel intimidating. A recent study from Latent View reveals that an engaging community is one of the top reasons for people going to the gym – so it makes sense to build one for your fitness business. New members need to feel welcome and like they’re part of something.
The key to building a community at your gym relies on the relationship you foster with members and how you encourage them to bond with each other. It’s about more than sweating it out in a 45-minute class. What can you offer outside of exercise to enhance your members’ experience?
Try hosting events that extend beyond fitness – a reason for everyone to get together. You could run a “TGIF” class and celebration on Friday’s and invite members to socialize at your studio after class. Dedicate an area to some pumping music and provide refreshments.
It may sound small, but you’ll be surprised at the impact it can have. Katie Daniel, the owner of Ambition Fitness, found that just the added concession of a coffee machine at the studio reception became a reason for her members to socialize before and after class. Creating the perfect member experience is what has enabled Katie to grow her studio into a franchise ready business in less than 12 months. Find out more about her journey here.
5. Lack of Member Support
The reason people join a gym is that they’re attracted to an idea. Maybe it’s getting shredded for summer, weight loss, or just to increase physical activity; that’s what they’re signing up for.
The reason they leave is that they’re unfulfilled. The idea hasn’t lived up to expectations. Perhaps they lost motivation or lost sight of their goals. Maybe they were putting in the effort but didn’t see the results they wanted.
When client motivation starts to dwindle, so does their progress. Soon after, their membership gets canceled. No matter what stage your clients are in their fitness journey, they all need support to keep going. When members feel unsupported, they’re much more likely to look elsewhere for an alternative solution to help them reach their goals – and you don’t want that. According to data collected by Two Brain Business in 2019, the average gym owner could make an extra $40,000 a year if they could just keep the average client three months longer.
Solution: Staff Support and Group Training
Your staff needs to be motivating clients, reminding them why they started and pushing them to reach their goal – not letting them forget about it. If a client doesn’t see the results they expected, a trainer should be there listening, finding out why and coming up with the solution.
Aside from hiring a great team, there are multiple benefits from offering group training. In this case, it creates an environment where members are supporting themselves and each other.
Classes and boot camps help to break down barriers and incorporate newbies into the tribe. The results of The IHRSA’s report reveals that class attendees are 56% less likely to cancel their membership compared to those who train on their own using free weights or cardio equipment.
Go a step further and set up a Facebook group where you can host live Q&A and invite your fitness trainers to engage with posts and comments within the community.
Every industry has its own problems. For fitness professionals – your customers walk in with them. The common issues we’ve outlined in this article bring opportunities for you to improve and nurture your staff and to go one step further in creating an exceptional member experience.
Ultimately, tackling these challenges strategically will keep your clients on track, increase retention, and help take your business to the next level.
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