6 Things Gym Members Hate and How to Solve Them

By David Piazza

Published 15 September 2016

Keeping your members satisfied is key to having a successful fitness business. We already know mistakes a gym should avoid which can help in being one step ahead. However, will any gym member be completely satisfied? Nope. Gym members are demanding, but that’s all right. Just be sure to act on those things that gym members really tend to hate. Here are some of the most-heard complaints in our experience.

1. An Uncomfortable Environment

Unclean and smelly locker rooms are included in most of the complaints. Sweaty or grimy equipment is a big no-no. Desert temperatures in your gym aren’t conducive to motivated workouts, and neither is dead silence.

How to Fix It:

  • Regular cleaning and an air freshener would increase the well-being of your members.
  • Appropriate temperature is important, so a good air conditioning system is definitely something to consider.
  • Add music to your gym! If possible, have different music playing in different areas. For example, have pumping beats in the weight lifting area, and consider pop music for your cardio training section.

2. Staff From Hell

How could your workout start out any worse than front desk staff that ignores you? Or employees on the floor that let you wander around or use equipment in an unsafe way? Since it’s not OK to let uninformed people try out complex exercises that can easily lead to injury when performed with bad form, this is a key issue you need to prevent in your gym.

How to Fix It:

  • Just a simple smile, motivated behavior and a normal welcome are enough to let the member feel appreciated. And remember, appreciation leads to loyalty.
  • Always a competent and motivated trainer around to help people out. And make sure that he or she is always on the lookout for an improper form or dangerous situations!

Related: 5 Ways to Improve Client Motivation

3. Poor Communication

To put it bluntly: this is a case of “your communication could be better.”

As a personal trainer, communication can be a challenge. Email, WhatsApp, phone calls, Facebook messenger, there are so many channels it can easily cause chaos: missed appointments, double bookings, etc. And for clubs, it can be even more difficult to connect with members because you don’t have that personal connection.

How to Fix It:

4. Damaged Equipment and Total Chaos

There is a reason why people are going to the gym and not training at home – the equipment.

Broken equipment which takes ages to be repaired is really annoying and doesn’t fit in any training plan. And sometimes you cannot differentiate the free weight area from a battlefield – exactly, I am talking about dumbbells. A lot of gym members do not re-rack their weight which forces the rest to go on a journey to find the right dumbbell.

How to Fix It:

  • Always repair faulty equipment immediately or as quickly as possible. Procrastinating doesn’t serve any use and will only upset your members more. And if you can’t repair it in a timely fashion, communicate when you expect to have it finished.
  • Have your staff remind people to re-rack their dumbbells. Perhaps a friendly ‘punishment’ of 25 push-ups for each dumbbell that isn’t re-racked? After all, if they aren’t strong enough to re-rack those weights, they might need some extra workout.

5. An Overcrowded Gym

Thank God, it is Monday – International Chest Day. Every gym member knows the problem: you have your training plan, but all the machines are taken. You would like to stick to the plan but fine, you could be flexible and replace the pec-deck with cable flies. But the cables aren’t available either. And the waiting line at the benches is so long people have started to set up camp.

There will never be the perfect solution to end the Monday 6pm massacre. Due to the fact that jobs are 9 to 5, you’ll always have peak hours. But there are still some tricks to minimalize the casualties of the ‘daily war’ from 5pm to 8pm.

How to Fix It:

  • Publish statistics of the busiest gym hours to allow people that have enough free time to train whenever they want to and get a solid workout in.
  • Discounts on off-peak memberships could draw people away from the after-work rush hours.

6. Textercising

We have a new phenomenal exercise in the gym I didn’t know about – “the single underhand-grip texting with the cell phone”. It is totally fine to use the smartphone in between sets but if someone has to wait for a machine because you are using it to text in a more relaxed position, it is a no-go.

How to Fix it:

  • Consider placing signs that waiting for a machine because someone is texting and not working out is not amusing.
  • Trainers in the gym can point out that sending a lot of messages won’t result in gaining thumb muscle mass.


To put everything in a nutshell: the key elements to keep gym members from hating your gym is a comfortable surrounding to work out, friendly staff and competent personal trainers. It is always a good idea to help members stay motivated – and you won’t achieve that well-functioning equipment and listening to your members’ needs. The main focus of your business efforts should always be the satisfaction of your members. In the end, it is not possible to completely fulfill everyone’s wishes, but any effort you put into making the majority happy will pay off every single time.

David Piazza

Hi, I’m David, 21 years old, and responsible for German Communications at Virtuagym. My biggest passion is lifting weights and therefore it is a pleasure to write blogs about the industry.

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