Fitness Professional Online

Big box gyms are everywhere. They made their mark in the fitness industry and paved the way for many successful business model practices. I am sure many of you realize the change that is here in our industry as we speak: the growth of group training and facilities geared toward specialty training. I think the big box gyms served their purpose but may be on a downward spiral. I also believe we are now reinventing the wheel and having to create a new branch of service and policies for the average fitness enthusiast. Did the big box gyms do a disservice to the fitness industry? Maybe yes? Maybe no?

I strongly believe that in order to fuel success you must pave a completely separate path from the big box gyms and demand a level of quality and service for your staff and clients like no one else. Separate yourself from everyone else! Why are you different? Fitness can be one of the toughest services to sell so do a damn good job of selling what you believe!

Here are a few things I believe need to change in the industry:

Membership freezes

Why is this an acceptable practice in fitness services? Car loans, mortgage payments, satellite and phone services are not frozen during a month you feel you won’t use them. Why is the fitness industry any different? This is a big box gym level of service that has been passed down the line. Sure, it can save a sale BUT does that costumer truly believe in your service? If they believe and love their satellite service or automobile even when they aren’t using it, they still pay. And we all know everyone needs to reduce their technology and TV time. Health and fitness shouldn’t be a sporadic model; they should take precedence over all of the above.

You must come up with a backup “freeze” policy because this is one of the most popular questions you will be asked. “Can I freeze my membership?” You have two options: 1. No 2. Yes with a freeze fee. This could be 50% of their membership rate and ONLY a certain length of time per year. One month limit per year? Think long and hard when deciding your freeze policy.

Big box gym Orientations

Looking back at all the years I did orientations at my big box gym I can honestly say it helped grow my business. I was introduced to a lot of people and if/when they thought of private training, it was me who they hired. What I hate about orientations is that they are very general. No screening or personal programming. Many are very generic and do very little to help an individual achieve their goals. They do nothing to promote private training and certainly don’t give the client a deeper understanding of what they could achieve with the right guidance. Basic programming is like a jar of peanut butter already filled with the peanut butter! What is there to keep you coming back? People should LEARN how to train and this will not happen in a basic orientation. If you are following this model it’s time to reinvent!

Big box membership fees

Cheaper doesn’t mean better! What cheaper means is no service! Remember you are selling a service and you must charge for it. This is the time to decide what that service is. Who is your target market?

Do not be everything to everyone.
This was my biggest mistake when I opened my facility. We had no business charging a higher membership fee because we were trying to be everything to everyone. The service and quality was watered down. As soon as we revamped our business model, reduced our membership base, increased our membership rate and targeted ONE MARKET, our income quadrupled and we could pay ourselves as owners.

Listen to your members

We make changes all the time, but based on member input and demand. This has been one of the biggest reasons our members love us, because we LISTEN! Many big box gyms do not value the input from members. If we have a class that members absolutely love and request it for a certain timeslot we will do our best to accommodate. This makes the client feel appreciated. We run our business as a “member run” facility. Meaning we take every ounce of input into consideration when planning our schedule and programs. Ultimately things must make sense and they must follow a safe and progressive model but if the members hate something it needs to be addressed. Let them have a sense of ownership because they will be the ones speaking to non members with the same amount of passion and love that you will have for your own business.

Signup Fees

Why on earth were these ever invented? Why would I pay a hefty fee up front PLUS a membership fee on top of that? It comes down to nothing but an income stream for the business. What does it show a potential member? That they need to fork out a signup fee that gets them nothing. Use the signup fee FOR something that can benefit the member if you feel the need to use them. Incorporate a month of additional programming. Send them away with a swag bag full of stuff they can actually use such as a heart rate belt, gift certificate for new gym shoes. Creating value to what you have to offer is the best way to increase excitement for the new member. Walking away with “something” instead of a signed contract will do nothing to reduce buyers’ remorse.

Money back guarantee

This is a NO BRAINER! Offer all new members a 30 day month back guarantee that will expire after the first 30 days. This is another way to allow the buyer to feel comfortable with the sale. They know they won’t be at a loss of money if they decide they don’t like it. Remember, fitness is a hard sell for many people! We need to make it as easy and stress free as possible!

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Rhonda Catt

Rhonda Catt

Rhonda CattNASM, CPTFMS Level 2Owner of Catt Conditioning Performance Center/Excel FitnessVernon, BC Canada
Rhonda Catt


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