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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I Have a Love-Hate Relationship with my Gym

There's no other way to describe it. I have a love-hate relationship with my gym. Here's the scary part - at least for the gym - the parts that generate the hate come from the gym establishment. The parts that create the love come from the people I've met.

From what I've observed, I'm not the only one to feel this way. I hear similar sentiments when I walk through the locker room and when I set up my spin bike.

The gym - Spa 23 - is a full-service gym. It offers classes, a pool, babysitting, racquetball courts, weight rooms... It's not the most glamorous gym, although the recent renovation has significantly upgraded some of the public spaces. [See A Foot's Perspective - Episode 7]. I've been a member since moving to this neck of the woods in 2004.

It's not exactly conveniently located [~10 miles away], but compared to the other options closer by [Gold's and Olympus], it has always seemed better. I'm starting to wonder, though.

It's a confluence of factors.

There's the nasty carpet in the Spinning room.

And, then, why is it that gyms so relentlessly focus on acquiring new members? I admire that - to a point. But, why not nurture the existing crowd?

There's the renovation saga. I've lost track when it started. It was supposed to start a year or two before it did. Then, it finally started over a year ago. Now it has stopped. From what I hear, the building needs to be brought up to code, with the addition of an elevator. The rumour mill says that there's no money for an elevator. Now, why didn't anyone think of this before the project started? Could it be that those rock-bottom new member acquisition deals aren't generating enough money? Nothing official has been issued, though.

Ironically, those of us avid spinners are relieved. You see the space that the new spin room is ear-marked for looks large enough to hold perhaps 12 spin bikes, with no room to sweat. Certainly not the 18 to 24 [depending on how many are out-of-service] in use in the current space where you can actually extend your arms and - if properly positioned - not touch your neighbor.

There's also the sense that you're never being told the full truth.

I've gotten bumped out of a few spin classes, which irks me to no end - twenty minute travel time each way gets old - when other activities aren't an option [and that was before gas became so exorbitant]. When I last complained, I was informed that 5 new spin bikes would be coming.

What I wasn't told at the time, was that 5 [or more] old bikes were being removed.

Now I get to the gym earlier to claim my bike. We've transitioned to a summer schedule, but I guarantee that back-to-school will be ugly before the [spin] dust settles.

I certainly hope - assuming we transition to the smaller spin room with fewer spin bikes - that my gym comes up with a better system for guaranteeing spin bikes than people 'saving' them hours ahead of time with a paper towel tied around the handlebars.

Right now, many of us represent a captive audience. Things are changing, though, with our local bowling alley [only 2 miles away] being converted to a gym. Between that and Gold's, I will have options.

The moral of this story: pay attention to your existing customers, monitor what they say about you, and tell the truth. If you have problems, can you come up with solutions that delight rather than create more disillusionment? Finally, keep them informed so the rumour mill doesn't take over.

Otherwise, say goodbye to your customers.

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