Owning and running a gym can be a wonderful thing. Inspiring others to lead a healthier lifestyle by encouraging fitness, and just doing your own bit (however minuscule) – helps the obesity issues we are suffering on a whole.
But owning a gym does have its pitfalls. More often than not, a gym owner is a fan of working out too and it’s a hobby come business/fitness venture. Now, for all intents and purposes, this is great, right?
Love what you do, be passionate and proud – what could go wrong? Well, not to be the bearer of bad news, but quite a lot!
RUNNING BEFORE YOU CAN WALK
Not just a great pun it can be a real issue. It’s all too easy to let your enthusiasm run away with you and try to walk before you can run. But despite this – we have seen many gym owners try to run too many promotions, fitness challenges, marketing campaigns all at once. Instead of doing one thing properly, they have ended up with many things in the melting pot! With gyms and schemes, less is definitely more, especially with new gyms and fitness centres – when you have so many other things to concern yourself with.
CLEAN AS A WHISTLE
Some owners are so focused on bringing in the new members and next new fitness craze that they forget the basics. A clean gym is for sure a healthy gym and keeping on top of this must be a priority for any gym owner. Don’t forget the accessories and go the extra mile… “Yoga mats are literally a breeding ground for a huge range of germs and bacteria. That’s mainly because washing a yoga mat can be a hefty task (try fitting 5 in a washer). Imagine how many sweaty backs, bums, bellies and feet will use a single mat over the period of i.e. 2 weeks.” – Dmitri Kara, Cleaning Expert at Fantastic Cleaners
“Don’t let your Gym smell like a sweaty sock”, Andy Curry
MUSIC TO YOUR EARS… OR NOT!
When it comes to providing back in music to a daily workout, too much volume can be off putting and quite frankly give your members a headache. “One of the most common mistakes is playing music too loud and picking something which is not sort of ‘all ages’ friendly.” – Alison Phillips, Engaging Events By Ali
Passionate health & fitness club owners tend to take all the actions and responsibility all on their own (well defined) shoulders. Thinking if a jobs worth doing, it’s worth them doing it; just to be safe. It’s essential to trust your gym staff with the roles you hired them for.
Micro-managers are quickly marginalised and you go from passionate to painful in one fell swoop.
On the flip side, fitness managers can distance themselves from the nitty gritty gym tasks, and leave everything, and I mean everything to everyone else. Expecting to kick back and let the gym membership fees wash all over them. Guess what? That isn’t going to happen and with that laidback attitude, you’d be hard-pressed to pay the fitness staff that are doing ALL the grunt work for you.
It’s a fine balance. Dip your toes in and make sure you know what’s going on at your club. Just remember to keep your cool and distance, to let your staff do their thang!
TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY
It’s your business, your livelihood and inevitably your hobby. But; and it’s a big but – you can’t afford (personally and professionally) to take things to heart.
Gym members will cancel, staff will call in sick, that one member will complain about absolutely everything – fitness related or not! However, it’s business and you need to act as such. This will allow you to look at things in an objective, dispassionate manner and make the correct responses and decisions for your gym, not your temperament. You will never please everyone and if you try too hard, you will end up diluting the essence of your gym.
You will never please everyone and if you try too hard, you will end up diluting the essence of your gym.
OUT WITH THE OLD (GYM MEMBERS) AND IN WITH THE NEW (GYM MEMBERS)
Looking at what you want compared to what you’ve got is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a gym owner. Your current gym members should be just as (if not more) important that new members. However, this is often not the case.
New members can take up all your focus and attention. With all your efforts focused on getting new members while expecting your current ones to stick around. News check, it doesn’t work like that – it costs a lot more to recruit a new member than it does to retain one. Leaky bucket syndrome! Existing clients should be your biggest fans and referrals being the best way to win business.
Reality check for your pay check.
BUILDING A GYM FOR YOU AND NOT YOUR AUDIENCE.
Again, this goes back to the owner being a fitness fanatic himself. A gym needs to reflect your client base, not yourself. Having a gym-sized caricature does everything for your ego but nothing for your bank balance. You want your personality to shine through your gym while ensuring it’s not overbearing.
The gym mirrors should be the only reflection you see of yourself in your business.
Like a workout, a gym layout and equipment needs to be balanced. A variety of machines, weights and general equipment allows a wide range of exercises to be completed and you can appeal to a broader audience.
TREATING ALL MEMBERS THE SAME
No matter what your mum may have told you it’s wrong. This advice is cute & cuddly but severely outdated. All your members will be different, and while they don’t expect a drawn-out conversation lined up – they will appreciate genuine interest and their needs catered for.
Not everyone wants to stop for a chat at reception. Not everyone wants you shouting ‘one more rep’ in their ear. Sometimes a hi and a bye is all they want and indeed, need. The gym can be a social zone for some and the twilight zone for others. In and out with the minimum of fuss. They live to fight another calorie burning day.
I’ve lost (rep) count of gyms that don’t offer any shakes, bars or meals as part of their service. This is can be a secondary revenue stream, that will improve the gym’s profits and also the variety of services that it offers. Diversity is the name of the fitness game, applying to gyms themselves and not just the workouts. Health club – the clue is in the name 😉
Keeping to the fundamentals; gyms should offer strength, endurance, pre-workout and recovery in the form of food & drink options, and it’s especially important to keep hydrated! Emily Smith, Social Media Manager at Nuun (the best hydration out there!), advises: “On average, you should try to consume half your body weight (in pounds) in liquid ounces plus what you sweat out in training (your sweat rate). For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim to consume 75 ounces of water or electrolyte drink per day plus losses that occur during workouts.
“Even if you’re certain to drink your 64+ ounces of fluids per day, downing 8 glasses doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re truly hydrated. unless your body is getting sufficient levels of electrolytes with your fluid, drinking more water may actually dehydrate you further!’
If you have food & drink options on hand, your customers will utilise these products given the right advice and friendly nudge nudge 😉. Even members who bring their own fitness supplements will forget them from time to time, where you the hero can step and save the muscle wasting delay.
If gym owners suffer from one of the above, it’s not the end of the world or indeed – their gym. You can run a successful gym with the odd mistake or oversight. However more than one or two of the above or god forbid – them all, you will be up last rep bench press creek without a spotter!
The fitness industry is one of the most competitive markets out there, and if you’re not first – you could very well be last!
ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR GYM OWNERS
Beverley Streater, Owner of Classic Women, reflects on her own experience of attending gyms and shares the following advice on what your gym should offer: “I retired from full-time work almost a year ago, and one of my retirement goals was to become fitter. I had been a gym-junkie in my forties, and loved the feeling of becoming toned, but after moving house a few times, I lost my momentum. However, with my new-found leisure time, at 62 years old, I joined an all-women gym. I felt it would allow me to just be me without fearing the critical stares of other gym-goers (yup, young fit men!), but that gym subsequently closed down. Next I joined the local gym run by a private company, which subsequently went in administration. Luckily, the local government body picked up its management, and it’s all systems go now. So, the 40-something me and the 60-something me have had some time to think about what those gyms did well and what could be improved.
“The key consideration in my 40s was the convenience factor. I needed to fit in classes around work and family commitments. I didn’t need to feel a sense of belonging; I just needed to get results, and it worked. However, the older me was looking for much more, and here’s what matters to me now: affordability, class times, range of offerings, safety, education, and encouragement. I no longer have a good income, so I looked for a gym that could give me discount rates in return for signing up for a set period.
“I also wanted to become fit in an environment which looked after my safety, taught me how to manage my body safely, and provide me encouragement when I attempted new things. What I wasn’t expecting, but now have in spades, was the brilliant company of a new set of friends!”
PoweredLocal, a free WiFi provider with more than 2,000 access points in venues and retailers across Australia, also stresses the importance of providing free WiFi in your gym. After running a trial of its free WiFi service across several gyms in Australia over the past three months, they found that the most commonly used apps at the gym are Instagram and Spotify, the average time spent connected to a WiFi network is 39 minutes, and the average amount of data consumed by users per visit is 18MB, which roughly works out to be 13 minutes of streamed music or 1.5 minutes of using Instagram.
Michael Jankie, CEO of PoweredLocal, says: “Providing a free WiFi network in the gym is a win-win situation. Patrons can give their stretched mobile data allowances a break while pumping iron or cranking out the cardio, and businesses can leverage the insights pulled from the WiFi analytics to personalise their marketing efforts. Something as simple as offering free Wi-Fi in exchange for a Facebook check-in can really reap rewards, as it promotes the gym to the user’s friendship network organically. In the age of over-cluttered news feeds, this kind of authentic endorsement from a trusted peer is invaluable.”
At McCaulay’s Health Clubs and Gyms we utilise the full suite of Ashbourne services, including the latest Membership Validation Till System, which really is helping to boost our secondary spend. Their core service of payment collection is utterly reliable and professional.
I have used Ashbourne for my payment collection for 10 years now. The software they have provided keeps improving and they work with the clubs to make it better. It’s easy to use and packed full of features.
My members can sign up online through the fully branded page that Ashbourne provide. If any of my members have a payment query they deal with Ashbourne direct, allowing me to concentrate on running my club.