Monday, January 6, 2014

5 Ways to Help New Gym Members

Whether or not you make them, January is the time for resolutions, many of which directly pertain to health and fitness. You don't have to be a gym employee to note the increase in attendance at this time of year, which is often caused by an influx of new members. Now, this is typically the time of year when many professionals in the health and fitness industry offer up tips and tricks to making and keeping those aforementioned resolutions, but I don't think I'll go there. I trust you know what needs to be done. Instead, I'd like to offer you (the seasoned gym-goer) five ways to help new gym members.

As a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I interact with a lot of new members very early on in their relationship with my gym. More often than not, I can sense how intimidated they are. Sometimes they even vocalize it:

"I don't know if I am strong enough."
"I'll feel stupid if I can't do it."
"What if I can't keep up?"
"I have no idea what to do."

The list goes on.

And honestly, it's these new members that I love interacting with the most. Because all it takes is a smile and some encouragement. Days later, it warms my heart to see them blending in with all the seasoned regulars. But what really warms my heart even more is when I catch those seasoned regulars welcoming the newbies, simply by introducing themselves or by helping them out in some specific way. That's a bigger ice breaker than anything a staff member can provide because it really, truly exhibits the strength of a positive environment.

So, be that seasoned regular welcoming the newbie. Here's how:

1) Introduce yourself to new members. If you notice someone walking around wide-eyed and hesitant. Walk up to them, calm and casual with an extended hand, and offer up your name. You don't even have to offer up advice, which some might find intimidating in and of itself. Just be that one member that made them feel like they belong.

2) If you notice a new member struggling with a piece of equipment, help them if you know how to. Gym equipment, man. It can look scary. It can seem impossible to use. But we all know that's not true. Most gyms offer equipment orientations to new members, and the fitness staff should always be on hand to help anyone that needs it. But the fitness staff gets busy, especially at this time of year. So don't hesitate to step in and help someone that might be struggling and/or standing in front of a machine with a puzzled look on their face. Safety reasons aside, this further conveys an approachable, welcoming environment.

3) If a new member takes your favorite fitness class for the first time, tell them about your first time. Classes, especially, can be super intimidating to new members. No one wants to look stupid in a room full of their peers. But we've all been that newbie and we've all survived. So tell them your tale, and they'll see how far you've come with a little hard work. Inspiring, right?

4) Don't hoard all the equipment. When the gym gets busy, we tend to stake claim to the equipment we need most (perhaps without even knowing it), which can be very frustrating to fellow members—and extremely intimidating to new members, many of which will feel like they can't or shouldn't work out near you. Be conscious of your space, be aware of what you're using and who might be eyeing it up. Offer up equipment when you can. Be inviting and flexible (figuratively, of course). Sharing is caring, right?

5) Be a gym buddy. Accountability is key to the success of any fitness program. Some people hold themselves accountable. Others invest in a trainer or weekly fitness class. And some people turn to their gym buddies to meet them regularly for sweat sessions. Maybe there's room for one more in your group? Welcome that new member that always seems to be on the track at the same time. He/She might be secretly hoping you'll notice him/her. Just be careful about one thing as your group of buddies grows: Big groups can be intimidating. Big groups can frustrate other members. Respect the space and the space will respect you.

Question: How do you help the new members at your gym?


Kate Scott said...

I LOVE this! I feel like so many "seasoned" fitness peeps are super-negative about newbies in the gym. We all started somewhere and a welcoming environment can go a long way in helping someone stick with their health goals!

adailydoseoffit said...

Thanks, Kate! Everyone always focuses on personal choices to make at this time of year...but I think it's a good idea to make sure we know how to help others as well! Love newbies at my gym!

Madeline said...

Love this! So many people can be intimidated. Being a friendly face and welcoming presence can do so much.

Runaway Bridal Planner said...

Great tips! I've never been a gym person, and after reading your tips its probably my own fault:) I really do need to make sure I look friendly approachable and helpful when I do go:)

adailydoseoffit said...

I think you either like the gym or you don''s a "to each his own" thing, in my opinion. But I will say this: The more you embrace the social aspect of working out with others, the easier it is to embrace the environment itself. And then you never know who you'll inspire!

adailydoseoffit said...

Totally! Even from an employee's perspective. I love it when members engage with me on a friendly, social level. It's fun being "friends" with all of them! Nothing like a positive environment!

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