Let’s keep it that way!
It’s January. The gym is packed. Not much room to move around and the wait for the elliptical is miles long. Forget about getting a bench. Group fitness classes are overflowing. There are no more ten pound weights and your favorite spot has been taken by a newcomer.
To regular gym goers and group fitness participants the onslaught of new-years-resolution exercisers is nothing short of exasperating. I often overhear my regulars consoling each other with reminders that things will be “back to normal” in a few weeks. Meaning of course, that most of the newcomers will give up and stop exercising long before Valentines Day.
I get their frustration. I too like it when the the gym is quieter (the main reason I workout in the middle of the day). It’s easier to train clients when I’m not competing for the functional trainer or the lat pulldown machine. And teaching complex patterns is much more difficult with a class full of participants new to step aerobics.
Although each newcomer has the potential to be ‘bitten by the fitness bug’ and become a life-long exerciser, by my estimate, only about ten percent of those who start an exercise program in January will stick with it long term. This saddens me, not only because I make my living teaching group fitness classes and personal training, but because I want everyone to experience the positive changes exercise will bring to their life.
As fitness professionals and exercise enthusiasts, I believe we have the power to make that percentage bigger. To keep the gyms crowded well into the spring. To share the fitness lifestyle with everyone we meet.
We can be friendly and welcoming to newcomers. Smile and introduce ourselves. Remember their name for tomorrow.
We can help them find and use equipment. Give safety pointers. Offer to spot. Share our wealth of knowledge and experience in a thoughtful and respectful way.
At the end of class, we can suggest other classes they might like. Tell them about programs their children can register in while they exercise. Point them towards the child-minding room.
Gently explain gym etiquette, including the concepts of ‘working in’ and ‘wiping up’. Usually etiquette violators aren’t rude, just un-educated.
Engage them in friendly conversation. Share your own ‘new to fitness’ stories. Invite them for coffee or a post-workout shake.
If you’re lucky, you’ll help turn a New Year’s resolution into a way of life. And you just might make a friend and a new workout buddy to boot!
How do you encourage newcomers to your gym?
This is a guest post from FitFluential Ambassador Tamara Grand.
Tamara lives in beautiful British Columbia, Canada with her husband and three children. She shares her passion for health and fitness with her group fitness participants and person training clients and blogs about fitness, food, family and knitting at http://www.fitknitchick.com.