In the US, more people join gyms in a few winter months than the rest of the year combined.  If you are looking for a gym or already have a gym, here are a few things to consider.

Is your gym concerned about your health, or are they only concerned about their wealth? Gyms are businesses not much different than any other.  Their goal is to turn a profit.  Some businesses make their money by creating quality products, providing quality service, and earning their customers through this prestige and thus, repeat business. Unfortunately this is not the practice of all businesses.  Fitness centers are notorious for thriving off winter rushes into their front doors, only to see members running out the back door, never to return soon after.  This is not entirely the fault of the fitness center, people need to except responsibility for sticking to a healthy lifestyle.  It is important though, to find a gym worth sticking around for.

A good way to evaluate a gym in one questions is to ask, “What do you do to keep people coming?”  Too often you see a club gym that may say they have several thousand members, but most of them are paying the FAT TAX.  The FAT TAX is what I call the gym membership a person buys because they know they need to exercise, but they never actually go to the gym, so they are basically just paying their penance for being overweight.  From a business perspective, FAT TAX dollars are like free money.  The gym is collecting dues from people who are not using their staff, wearing down the equipment, or using the resources.  A smarter run business will also realize though, that these are the memberships that will cancel as soon as their contract is up.

A gym that strives not just to get people to purchase memberships but encourages them to use them through incentives and programs is not only more invested in it’s members, but they are more invested in a long term business strategy, so you know they will be in business for years to come.

The second question I would ask is, “What investments do they make into the facility each year?” , or “what have they done this past year?”  Don’t ask what they are planning to do, because you have no idea if you will be told the truth, and many times the sales rep will not know.  Improvements you want to see are things that improve your experience and increase your chance of getting results.  You shouldn’t consider basic maintenance of the facility like re-painting, or pool maintenance a re-investment.  Those things should be a given. If the facility is run down, then they obviously do not value their member experience or business is not good.  You want to see that they are spending resources on innovative things like educating their staff, upgrading equipment, brining in specialist or speakers, and investing in the member experience through events and reward programs.

The third question I would ask would be about their turnover rate.  You can’t expect a gym to take care of it’s members if it does not take care of it’s employees.  If the can’t keep staff, they likely won’t keep you either.  Any service based business like fitness must follow the rule of taking care of their employees who take care of their members.  It’s not likely you will spend a lot of one on one time with the owner, if one even exist as many times it is a corporation.  Largely your experience at the gym is going to be based upon the attitude and professional level of the people at the reception desk, personal training staff, instructors, and the people who clean and maintain the facility.  We’ve all head that little phrase about not being rude to the people who handle your food.  The same should go for the people that clean and care for the facility you use.  A happy staff that takes pride in the facility will ensure that things are kept tight, problems are dealt with promptly, and hygiene will be taken care of.