Gymtimidation – or the intimidation felt by potential gym users – is keeping millions of people away from the gym. The inclusivity and ease-of-access of PRAMA is designed to reach that ~85% of people who don’t have a gym membership, but understanding the issue is the key to raising penetration.
It’s easy to blame the stay-aways for not showing up. There are hundreds of blogs and articles all over the internet offering advice for newbies on how to deal with their first experiences of the gym. But the truth is, if we want to increase our customer base, we have to reach out to those in need of extra attention. Issues with time, money, and inexperience can all add to the feeling of intimidation when a potential user thinks of the gym.
In order to get more people through the doors, we need to show them they’re wanted. The biggest issue with gymtimidation is that new users feel like outsiders. They’re often self-conscious, embarrassed, and feel inadequate when compared to the regular users who seem to be experts in all things gym. Our philosophy is to combat these problems at the root and welcome new users with open arms.
The biggest issue that recurs throughout all the testimonials, blogs, internet advice and brainstorming is fear of judgement. Most people are nervous about trying new things, not knowing how something works, and the gym is certainly no exception. It can be overwhelming to train alongside people who seemingly spend their lives in the gym while you use lower weights and struggle to understand how a rack works while everyone around is smashing their workout. Thanks to this, as many as 50% of prospective users feel intimidated by working out among other people in a gym. And almost 40% of non-users think they are too unhealthy to start exercising.
Knowing that training in public can be intimidating, gyms can help mitigate this issue by publicising any smaller rooms and private spaces they might have. Beginners-only classes are also a great way to help new users get started and build confidence.
Machines and gym equipment are another source of stress for new users. It’s important that everyone knows how to use equipment properly, and what each accessory is for. Having an in-depth welcome session that explains the pros and cons and how to use each type of apparatus could make a real difference to your retention. Having a trainer on hand to answer any questions is much more comfortable for new users than having to spend hours memorising YouTube videos before each gym session. It also removes the anxiety of users feeling like they’re being judged if they don’t know what bit goes where when trying to use them.
Another off-putting fact of gym life is the membership. Potential users have to fork out a decent wedge to go and put themselves through this physical and mental hell, so it’s no wonder that retention is an issue. Ensuring that users are getting value for money is important, they need to feel welcomed, valued, part of a community as well as able to access all the services available to them. It’s also important for them to bear in mind that a gym membership is an investment in themselves. Helping them to achieve goals, tracking their progress and offering encouragement are good ways to keep members engaged and coming back.
It’s not just new users that struggle to keep their goals in perspective. Often users who already have a fitness routine often feel stuck in a rut, with 2/5 feeling like they’ve reached a physical plateau. Furthermore, 22% of users don’t know what the best exercises are for their body type and, coupled with feeling too intimidated to use the machines, choose to stay with their ineffective routine rather than risk change.
Encouraging fresh activities or new workout routines will help you better distribute your resources, motivate your users and improve client retention, and help find ways to integrate new users alongside regulars who are trying new things.
PRAMA deals with these issues at its core. We don’t use machines, there are no mirrors, and we work together in group classes to make sure everyone feels welcome. No matter your age or body type, every exercise can be adapted to you; so whether it’s your first time ever at the gym or you’re recovering from an injury you’ll get the best workout possible. PRAMA creates a community through interaction; between the users, with the instructors, and with the room itself. The interactive environment and selection of moods compliments the endless combinations of exercises in our database, and all of the four core classes we offer can be taught by any of our trained instructors meaning that users will always have a great selection to choose from.
We also offer advice and encouragement to our users. Our regular PRAMA Body Challenge gives all users the chance to speak to a nutritionist and find the perfect balance between their exercise and diet. And our staff are ready to provide the best fitness experience possible from the moment of first contact with each potential client.
What’s more, the PRAMA studio doubles as a multipurpose room, allowing you to cater to all kinds of interests and host various different classes. All you need is to do is let us know when we can train your staff to give them the power of PRAMA.
If PRAMA isn’t your thing, there are still changes you can make. Try to foster your own community, where gym users look out for each other. Make sure members are aware of their behaviour in the gym and encourage everyone to leave equipment in an appropriate state for the next user.
If you use the maximum weight on a machine, move the pin back to the top so that the next person doesn’t feel like they aren’t lifting “enough” or that they don’t really have a right to the machine.
Re-racking weights is just good manners. Particularly, if you just leg pressed 1,000 pounds, re-rack the your weights so that the person who comes after you doesn’t have to move 850 pounds of weight, all while feeling like their 150 pounds is a waste of a machine.
Bear in mind that the most intimidating activity is weightlifting, so your users may need some encouragement to use your lifting areas to the fullest. Walking into the gym and exercising in front of the opposite sex are also two triggers for anxiety and intimidation in gyms, so think about that when planning layouts.
You can also help users work out their goals and how best to reach them. Some people are there to work out for the sake of it; others want to lose weight and look good. If they’re not feeling comfortable, motivated, and don’t think the effort is paying off, they’re more likely to leave, so help and guidance will often be welcomed. In particular, those users that have a specific size/weight that they want to get to might lose motivation and leave if they don’t see progress, so it’s key to help them track their progress and ensure they understand that they’re on the right path. You could even offer workout plans at reception for newer users to follow so they’re not so overwhelmed once they get inside.
Finally, everyone is more motivated when training alongside a friend. Offer group classes to new users where they can get to know each other and share their experiences, or consider offering a discount for users that sign up in groups of two or more. They’ll be much more likely to renew later on, and your retention rates will improve as your users stick around!
Don’t forget to share this post to encourage others to make gyms a friendly and welcoming place to be. And if you’d like to know how to better engage your users and banish gymtimidation from your club, click here to contact us about PRAMA.