When people think about what’s important for a successful gym, the first things that usually come to mind are the equipment, state of the facility, and classes. These features are like the bones of a gym–an important part of the structure. But they’re not what gives the gym life. For that, you need to find the heart of a gym.
What exactly does that mean? Well, the heart of a gym is what gives it a pulse. It’s what sets the vibe and makes it feel like home. The heart of a gym is in its culture.
Gym culture thrives on building relationships and fostering community. And it’s that connection that turns new clients into long-term members.
At commercial gyms there tends to be a less personal culture due to the size of the business, high employee turnover rate, and high client load. Both employees and new clients can feel the pressure of the sales-driven atmosphere. But many people are willing to overlook this for the convenience of cheap memberships, multiple locations, longer business hours, and lots of machines. Like the Starbucks of the fitness world, big chain gyms appeal to the general public. They are fine for someone who has general fitness goals and wants to be in and out of the gym.
Private gyms are smaller and more intimate. The culture will vary from place to place, but there is a generally a more personal touch. Private gyms are usually more expensive, but in exchange you get specialized programs, a higher level of attention, and a less crowded gym. Due to the smaller size, the culture of an independent facility can really shine.
If you want to workout in a place that you really love, pay attention to the culture with these pointers.
- Customer service: How long do they take to respond to you? How do they treat you? How attentive are coaches and management? Clients are the backbone of a business and should be placed as top priority. The way a gym’s staff interacts with prospects and clients says a lot about how much they value them. Take note.
- Ambiance/vibe: This is the feeling you get when you first step in. It’s the atmosphere influenced by the decor and layout, the different personalities in the gym, and the way they receive people. A good gym should have an environment that makes you feel comfortable and at ease. Coaching style also plays a role in setting the vibe. For example, are coaches hardcore in the way they push their clients or are they gently encouraging? Neither is right or wrong; it just depends what you’re looking for.
- Values: These are the set of principles that are important to the gym. Values act as a framework for the way staff interacts with clients and how they work together as a team. You might see a set of values printed on a poster on the wall, but if it’s not obvious, just ask. Their values should align with yours. For example, one of Soul’s values is to be the best part of our clients’ day. It’s a tenet that influences all aspects of the way we do business.
- Community: There are people who like working out alone, and there are people who thrive on group workouts and the connection they feel from seeing the same faces everyday. Gyms build community by bringing members together through things like group outings, barbecues, partner workouts, and in-house competitions.
At Soul we value positivity and individuality. We always strive to give great customer service. Our coaches are always pushing for client progress, whether they’re an elite athlete or recreational lifter. It’s not just all work though. We host holiday events, in-house competitions, and active group outings.
Remember that it’s easy to get distracted by nice equipment or a fancy juice bar, but it’s the intangible things that make or break a gym. If a facility’s friendliness and good vibes impress you right away, then you’ve found a place that has a great culture.