Why don’t people come to the gym? I know, we as trainers know, that perhaps the biggest reason potential gym goers do not start is that they are scared. Scared of failure perhaps, but more so scared of embarrassment.
I see it all the time, people come in to our Fitwall gym, see our clients exercising doing things like pull-ups, speed skaters, pushups, crawling, etc and the onlooker immediately says “oh that’s too hard for me”.
Bullshit…..is what I think internally, because I don’t understand the intimidation factor with exercise. But perhaps, I think I know exactly what it feels like….my fiance loves to dance, I however do not. Partially it is because I’ve never actually had any fun dancing without some liquid encouragement, but mostly it is because I don’t wanna make an ass of my self on accident. So I don’t dance. If I substitute workout for dance, I understand exactly what’s going on-only it has much more serious implications on health and self confidence.
Our Fitwall workouts are quite athletic in nature, and people are scared that they will look goofy/silly/uncoordinated/etc, so we try to coddle and nurture and encourage as much as humanly possible without actually having a cry together feel better session during the workout-because the most important thing for someone to feel when starting a new program is safe and successful. Nobody gets their form ‘perfect’ right away, and I don’t think that matters as much as the scare mongering training crowd makes it seem to matter. Nobody gets real results in 2 weeks, despite all the 2 week drop 10lb silliness out there. We make sure to let our clients know that because we have 2 coaches in each group session, they will be safe and they will improve every time they come in.
Take a looksy at this article where brain activity is markedly different between normal body sized people and overweight/obese people. Basically, the gym looks like a fun or good idea to normal/fit people and looks like a scary or waste of time to a fat person. So it is up to us, to be a safe haven or at least as not scary as possible to help them come in to our gyms where we are doing “better” exercise than what they will get at Planet Fitness. Now, while I think that planet fitness is largely a bullshit excuse for a gym that encourages non impactful training principles and basically is just a predator that wants to grab millions of people at $10/month who actually will never go but will never cancel their $10/month charge and doesn’t actually care at all about the people it is marketing to, they do have a very effective and pretty funny marketing campaign. (each of those words is a link to a really funny video). Seriously, planet fitness is fine if that gets someone working out, and I have lots of posts and every workshop I say “do whatever you enjoy, because that is the only thing you will consistently do long term.”
I personally believe that many many people have no interest in putting forth actual effort in their attempts to lose weight/get fitter. I see lots of people emerge from pilates and yoga studios with zero sweat on them. When they try one of my workouts it is hard by comparison. I believe that many people don’t want to do hard because 1. they are scared if they actually try they may still actually fail 2. they have been lied to that easy can get things done. The $10/month crowd or 1x/week crowd or don’t want to sweat crowd is NOT serious about making changes in their life, generally speaking.
The gym as a scapegoat? My perhaps cynical view is that some people just want to blame their workout. I’ve seen people who sign up for a membership who go 4 times in a month and complain they aren’t getting results. I see people who go 10 times a month but party every weekend and drink wine every night and have bagels and cereal every day (despite attempted food interventions) who complain they aren’t getting results. People often times just want to say that their exercise of choice didn’t work, and take zero ownership for why their own lifestyle choices is what is actually not working. I believe this plays a large role in why many people bounce from method to method-because they get to say “i tried everything”….except not eating like an asshole and getting some sleep! There are lots of success stories that end with “i decided to make a change, and committed to xyz” none say “ i decided to go to the gym a few times each month”. Here is how one of my first time client meetings went last year, and is definitely not the beginning of a success story…
Me “what’s your main goal?”
her “fat loss”
me while looking at self diet report “are you willing to give up Dr. Pepper and reese’s pieces?”
me “then your main goal is dr. pepper and reese’s pieces, not fat loss. I will get you stronger, and fitter, maybe leaner, but I guarantee nothing in terms of fat loss based on your diet”
I can tell you with confidence, she would’ve blamed me for her inability to lose fat if I didn’t say that….because she was blaming her previous trainer. We can be scapegoats. She wasn’t scared of failure, she wanted something to blame for failure other than herself.
furtherly meandering in a hard to follow blog…perhaps another way to decrease the gym intimidation is to focus on making it fun. I talked about it here. And the best example in the USA has gotta be Mark Fisher Fitness. Make it more fun, it becomes less scary, you get more people, then they do good exercise, and they get better! oh ya
So who’s to blame? The gym staff or the potential clients? Nobody is to blame…some people just don’t want to be different than how they are. For every person who wants to have fun, and make changes, come see me and most coaches out there who really do want to make differences in peoples’ lives.
So what do you think? How do you get more people to come into your gym? How do you break down walls?
*If anyone misconstrues this as fat shaming, calm down. Fat is not meant to be a negative term here, it is a descriptor. also, I apologize how this got jumbled, my 30 minutes of edits somehow got lost, and my frustration with that made me decide to just post it up or else I’d risk going another 6months without a blog post.