Ten New Expectations Gym Members Have

So much has changed for the gym industry, including gym member expectations. Here are 10 new expectations gym members have that your gym needs to satisfy.

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With lockdowns easing across the world, there will be many gyms looking to bring back customers and hopefully entice new ones to come and train with them. But the gym going public has changed, and due to the events of the last year their expectations of what a gym should offer will have also changed. This article will take a look at ten new expectations that gym members have that your gym needs to satisfy.

Expectation #1: Hygiene

Some gyms have always been obsessed with keeping equipment clean, while others? Let’s just say that the term “spit and sawdust” was used as a term of endearment! Post-covid hygiene is going to be massively important to a much larger percentage of gym members than before.

Deep cleaning on a regular basis is a must. But a simpler option is to provide an anti-bacterial spray and some paper towels next to each piece of equipment. You’ll be surprised at how many members will be prepared to wipe down their own equipment provided it is easy to do so.

Expectation #2: Well Maintained Equipment

This has always been an expectation, yet it is amazing how many gyms used to get away with poorly maintained equipment and broken machines pre-pandemic. Some gyms would have their Smith Machine out of action for 6 months at a time!

But things like this can have a terrible effect on your gym. Members will treat the equipment with less respect if most of it is already damaged. The broken window effect. It also demonstrates that your company doesn’t have much respect for their members. It will harm sales, lead to members cancelling their contracts early, and it can affect your reputation online.

Obviously, it may not always be possible to fix equipment immediately. But having a better process for reporting damage and then moving forward is a great way to show your members that you are proactive.

Expectation #3: Fair Membership

In recent years, customers have been getting more and more protection against unreasonable contracts. This is now starting to affect member’s expectations when it comes to gyms. For too long, gyms were locking people into 2-year contracts where they had no power to leave early. This membership model is now outdated, and members expect a lot more flexibility.

Expectation #4: Space

After a year of social distancing, a crowded gym floor is no longer seen as acceptable by the majority of gym members. Now this may not always be the case, a year from now this issue may have gone away. But currently? Crowded weight areas are stressful.

Being creative with the amount of space that cardio machines and resistance machines take up could go a long way to improving the amount of space available for members. Replacing bulky equipment with smaller alternatives could help.

In all honesty, this is a really difficult expectation to manage without restricting numbers into your gym. But if there is anything you can do to improve matters, then go for it.

Expectation #5: Complete Coaching

It is no longer enough to just offer the in-gym services; most gyms are now offering an online service as well. This was certainly popular during the pandemic, but many gyms were already moving in this direction.

It makes a lot of sense. Most of the content can be prepared in advance or you can livestream classes that are already being performed. This provides your members with the option to train at home or in your gym. Meaning that you earn money even with members who rarely step through your door.

Apps are another option to explore. A great way to improve group cohesion, motivate your members, and improve the membership experience.

Expectation #6: Educated Coaches

Obviously, if you are hiring fitness instructors or personal trainers then they will need to be qualified. But too many gyms avoid educating their coaches further. This is where set-ups such as CrossFit stand out because they hugely encourage their coaches to continue their education, often funding or part-funding courses.

This is so effective for improving results in the gym, and it really is becoming a common expectation that your staff will know enough to help anyone. The days of grabbing someone off the street and giving them a uniform are long gone.

Expectation #7: Better Changing facilities

This expectation has been partially covered in the hygiene, space, and maintenance sections. But it is remarkable how many beautifully operated gyms fall down when it comes to changing facilities. Broken lockers, grimy showers, towels everywhere. Treat these facilities as well as you treat your gym floor, and your members will really appreciate the difference.

Expectation #8: Investment

Investment is crucial to any business. Of course, you don’t want to blow your budget in an effort to constantly invest. But making smart strategic investments whenever possible will ensure that your gym always stays ahead of the curve.

Members will always appreciate signs of new investment, but poorly thought-out investments can have the opposite effect. If members have been complaining about needing a new bench press for 2 years and you instead spend a fortune on new rowing machines, they may feel like they are being ignored.

This comes down to communication (see #10). Consult your staff, consult members, and find out exactly what it is that your gym is lacking. As we mentioned in #5, your investments don’t need to be in expensive gym equipment. It could be in online training software, or training apps. It could be in additional staff members, or staff training.

Expectation #9: Support

Most people who join gyms stop turning up after just a few months, this is rarely down to poor facilities or membership prices. It is down to a lack of support. Most new members have no idea of what they are supposed to do, or how to get results. A 10-minute induction isn’t going to change that. Nor is a new fitness app or online service if staff members aren’t there to help.

Even gyms with virtually no budget can make a huge difference provided they offer support to their new members (and older members too). Rethink your introduction process for new members, offer a superior service. Book follow up sessions for new members where they can expand their knowledge.

Teach members how to use the online service and/or the app. Host seminars, get your personal trainers to take them (can be great for their business). Offer a daily email service, which you can use to impart more wisdom, it can also help to increase member retention.

Expectation #10: Communication

Good communication is crucial if you want your gym to succeed in this new landscape. Staff greeting members with a smile is one thing. An easy complaints process, where management actually listen to the underlying causes can massively improve satisfaction levels.

Emails, texts, social media. All three can be used to improve member engagement which leads to better communication. You can also use your online coaching system for this. Fitness apps can also be used to increase communication.

But it isn’t just member to staff communication. You want communication between staff members to be better. You also want communication between members to flourish. In many ways, this is the most desirable option. We’ve previously talked about the importance of building a community, and better communication between members is the ultimate way to foster that relationship.

Final Thoughts

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what members are thinking, because the truth is that many members will have completely different desires and expectations. Many of the expectations that are mentioned above were probably already expectations for many members, but the covid pandemic has exposed some of these expectations.

Hygiene is a big one. Many gyms did have a good policy, but far more were lacking in this area. Members are much less likely to put up with machines that are covered in sweat or dust. They are less likely to deal with changing rooms that are filthy. These are easily fixed, and just require consistency and motivated staff.

Investment is another huge expectation that members are going to expect. Now that online coaching and home workouts are easier to get, people need a better reason to spend their hard-earned money on a gym membership. You need to offer your members something that they can’t get at home or in a field during a bootcamp.

Not everything on this list will be achievable, particularly for smaller locally owned gyms. You may not have the budget to handle all of these expectations. In which case, aim to hit the free or low-cost options:

  • Hygiene
  • Communication
  • Support
  • Equipment maintenance (within your budget of course)

While expectations may seem higher than ever, it would also be fair to say that many members are willing to give you a break provided they see you’re making the effort. Keep your gym clean, keep your equipment well maintained, greet members when they walk in the door, be proactive in your efforts to help and support them. Do this and your members will stay for years.

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