9 common mistakes your gym should avoid

Aug 7, 2019 - 7 min read
gym class in a fitness studio - Virtuagym

Being a gym owner can be challenging. Whether you have just started or have been at it for years, at some point you are going to face some hurdles you wish you could have prevented. So just to give you a heads up, here are some of the common issues you should avoid in your gym!

1. You Let New Members Take a Leap in the Dark

People who are new to your gym, or are new to the gym in general, are usually a bit unsure of where to start. So if you just let them wander about in your gym, without offering them any consultation or app to give them guidance, it could cause issues. First of all, if people start using machines of which they have no clue how to use, there is a good possibility that someone gets injured. Especially if a person is new to fitness, it could mean they’ll be put off by the lack of guidance. Secondly, there is also a social aspect to take into account. If the new member is not properly welcomed to your gym they will not feel appreciated, thereby increasing the chance of them continuing on to look for a gym that does give them that feeling.

2. You Treat All Members the Same

The title might throw you off a little, because we live in a society where everybody wants to (and should) be treated equally. But in a gym different rules apply. There are gym members in all shapes and sizes, as you already know. All these members have different needs, based on their level of experience, goals, lifestyle, age, and so on. So treating every one of them in the same way isn’t going to work. You don’t have to explain how to do a brench press to a seasoned weight lifter. Similarly you can’t engage a beginner in a detailed discussion on macronutrient ratios or the anaerobic pathway . Always base your communication efforts on peoples’ needs and experience, so you can create the optimal client experience.

3. Your Gym Isn’t Accessible to a Wide Range of People

One of the primary business goals for a gym is optimize client acquisition. In order to do that your gym needs to be suited for a mixed crowd. There are gym owners who design their gyms based on the needs of experienced gym users or focused on one particular workout type. This only works if you know that there will be a sufficiently large audience attracted to your offer.

For a lot of gyms, however, a mixed audience will lead to better business results, and in this case a focused approach won’t get you the amount of members you were hoping for. So diversify your equipment and services, create a friendly club culture, and develop support plans to help all types of clients reach their goals.

4. You Don’t Have Core Values at Your Gym

It might be an easy thing to forget, your core values. What kind of message do you want your gym to communicate to your customers? What is your vision, your mission? Without core values your gym is like a rudderless ship. Everything you do, how you communicate with customers, how you train your employees, the training programs you implement, is done in line with your core values. Don’t make it all about money. You need to be passionate about your gym and carry out the ideals you believe in to turn it into a success.

5. You Don’t Communicate Core Values to Your Clients in a Positive Way

Your core values result in some house rules. The way you apply them that sets the tone in your gym. You want your gym to inspire people to get the best out of themselves. If one of your core values is safety, unracked dumbbells or other free-roaming equipment is a no-no. If cleanliness is essential to your image, sweaty equipment doesn’t align. Now, you could police your gym and punish wrongdoers, but as is the case with all habits, positive reinforcement works a whole lot better and will improve your client experience more. A personal thank you from a staffmember for reracking dumbells or for wiping the sweat off a seat could already do the trick.

6. You Only Focus on Client Acquisition

Quite understandably, gyms are always on the lookout for new members. But this makes it easy to forget that you also have to take care of your already exististing members. To put it in numbers: existing customers are up to 50% more likely to purchase additional services compared to new prospects . And did you know that it can cost up to 7 times as much to gain a new client than retaining an existing one ?

So take care of your existing clients. Are they achieving the results they are after? Are you delivering the best possible client experience? Keeping your members satisfied not only helps you with client retention, it could actually help you gain new members as well. Happy members could spread the word of your awesome gym and draw in some of their friends. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.

7. You’re Not Keeping An Eye on the Competition

One of the most dangerous mistakes to make for your gym is not being aware of the competing gyms in your area. When you don’t know the gym across the street has been giving new members a 10% discount, or if you did not realize your rivalling gym is offering a popular new type of group class, it could end up costing you.

This isn’t limited to things happening inside your gym, but also outside it. Your marketing efforts, for instance. Seeing your competition successfully engage with their (and your!) audience on social media while you are watching from the sidelines, is not where you want to be. So make sure you keep tabs on your competition.

8. Your Staff is Unmotivated or Uneducated

A staff member who does not care about the well-being of the gym is not going to give members a warm welcome or express your core values. And an untrained staff member won’t be able to help new members use the equipment properly or help them with their exercise plans. Unmotivated and uneducated staff members set a poort example for your members. They won’t be able to communicate your core values to your members. And they will harm client satisfaction and retention. To maintain high standards in your gym, a great crew is where it starts.

9. You Ignore Innovation

I mentioned the use of social media, but I think it’s important to highlight the use of new media and new technologies. Almost 80% of the US population has a social network profile . If you are not using social media you are missing out on great way to communicate to your clients.

Next to social media there are also other innovations that you shouldn’t forget, like fitness apps. These make it very easy for your members to track progress or log exercises. Keep up-to-date on the latest technological developments as well. We live in a world of tech, where new tools are developed every day that help both you and your clients. To remain relevant as a gym, it is becoming increasingly important to adapt to these trends, to offer the best possible customer experience, and to optimize your business.

There’s always something that can go wrong. But a lot of mistakes you can easily prevent by offering great service, paying attention to your clients and your equipment, and by having a passionate staff that expresses your core values with your clients every minute they’re in your gym.

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Simret Samra

Copywriter at Virtuagym. I am a former sports and finance Journalist, and a devout Liverpool FC fan. When I'm not in the office I enjoy exploring Amsterdam, my new home city!