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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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Anonymous said...

My dear friend, John Scott, owns and operates one of the most remarkable, unique gyms I have had the pleasure of visiting, right here in Kansas City.


John identified his market early on and has used a hyper-focused, non-conformist approach in order to reach them. While his gyms do not offer many of the luxury amenities other, flashier gyms may have, his membership is loyal and almost familial (not to mention growing). He decorates with "re-purposed" or vintage items and uses bold, interesting colors; he hangs artwork from local artists on the walls, he holds "art-parties" to launch exhibits, he requires no contracts; he even sells milk & eggs from local farmers at little or no mark up, in an effort to encourage the local economy.

Possibly the most refreshing (& effective) aspect of his marketing style is his willingness to embrace the fact that his gym is not for everyone.

CB Whittemore said...

Susan, thanks for sharing the example of your friend. I wish I could work out at his gym! The commute might be a problem, though...

Your friend's approach to business, and his passion for his locality, highlights something I think we will be seeing more of: the success of businesses genuinely focused at the hyper-local level. Those that aren't committed and consistent in their vision will fail.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you need a home gym. I remember the days when I used to go to Bally's and pray an elliptical was available or wait in little lines to get on the right weight machines that I wanted to work out on. Well eventually I got a little fed up and I just went out and purchased an elliptical, some nice adjustable dumbbells, and little bench. All of that allows me to do just about anything I did at the gym at home and now I seem to work out a lot more since it doesn't seem like a pain to have to actually drive to the gym and stuff. Plus I can do it while just watching TV or something so if I have a show I want to watch, I can do both at the same time. Plus you know where to get some rubber gym flooring if you need any. cough cough, shameless plug, cough. Hope everything is well Christine.

CB Whittemore said...

Mark, I will certainly let you know should I need any rubber gym flooring! Seriously, though, I hear you on the home gym angle and it makes lots of sense. It just doesn't work for me. I need the unexpected jolt of energy that comes from taking part in a class....

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Reminder: Please, no self-promotional or SPAM comments. Don't bother if you're simply trying to build inauthentic link juice. Finally, don't be anonymous: it's too hard to have a conversation. Thanks, CB

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