“If it’s clear that spending time and effort at the gym will get the results that most of us want—a healthier body and a happier life—why do many still have a difficult time making that a priority?” asks Keke Lyles. “And how can we create programs and other incentives that will bring more members into the club’s gym to focus on fitness?”
It is no surprise that regular attendees at the gym and in fitness classes are usually the individuals who are the most in shape. At least physically, they look the part. It is also not surprising that these same members tend to have the most energy, because of the time and dedication they put into taking care of their bodies.
So if it’s clear that spending time and effort at the gym will get the results that most of us would want—a healthier body and a happier life—why do many still have a difficult time making that a priority? And how can we create programs and other incentives that will bring more members into the club’s gym to focus on fitness?
For younger members who are serious about golf or tennis, they typically are already much more willing to put in the work that will help transform their bodies into high-performing machines. They are usually looking to get any advantage they can to better their performance in their other activities.
There is also a smaller group of more mature members who are starting to realize that Father Time is catching up to them and are looking for every way to help slow that aging process down. Additionally, there’s the social group of members who exercise together to stay healthy, but also use that time to connect and spend time with their friends.
Beyond these groups, though, there remains a large number of members who simply do not utilize what the gym can offer. My experience has taught me that they are actually willing to engage in activities, but just need to be helped along to start the journey. They need to be educated in the benefits of exercise, shown how it will translate into the activities they care most about, and offered solutions that are welcoming to those who are not as comfortable in the gym setting.
Older members who haven’t stepped foot inside the gym are not going to want to walk into a high-intensity interval training class with a bunch of younger members. Nor will they want to step into a yoga class with a social group. It is important to understand what their needs are, and how to engage with them so they feel comfortable coming into the fitness center.
Consider having a stretching, mobility and stability class for these members. Encourage your Fitness Director to go out onto the driving range and build relationships with the members who usually do not come into the gym. For special events like tournaments, consider hiring stretch therapists to set up on the warmup range and provide a free, 10-minute stretch session for all players.
Perhaps once a month, if you have men’s and women’s leagues, you can also provide a stretch therapist or massage therapist in their respective lounges, to promote recovery after their rounds. The goal here is to bring the gym to them.
Another creative and very beneficial amenity to offer is a golf-specific warmup. Some clubs have bought third-party software to show members how to properly physically warm up for golf. Even better, you can get your fitness staff to create in-house content that can be pushed out to the members, through a simple QR code that’s provided either on the range or the first tee box and that links them to a follow-along video warmup demonstrated by your fitness professionals. This is a unique opportunity to showcase your fitness staff and get them in front of members who would not normally meet them.
Throughout the golf course, you can place other QR codes that highlight mental focus, deep breaths, stretches, etc. This way, as golfers play their rounds, they will have many opportunities to connect and interact with the fitness staff.
After you start bringing the gym to the members, you will also need to have a plan in place to start to transition them into the gym. Having the staff build relationships with individual members will not only help them feel safe, it can also create a sense of accountability.
Invite members in for a free initial screening that will give an objective report about where they are physically. Once that’s completed, the door can be opened to a conversation, to point out areas that need improvement. That is another opportunity to connect with the members, hear what their needs or biggest concerns are, and align with the staff on what direction is needed.
It is important to keep in mind that the goal is to get a member to utilize the facility more, and not to try and sell services. If you want to get a member who is already hesitant to come into the gym to run away for good, then try to sell away. Be patient and show them that you care for their health, and be willing to create and offer services that will get them engaged.
When targeting mature members who have been reluctant to come to the gym, keep in mind that during the aging process, we quickly lose our ability to generate power. From there, we lose the ability to move quickly, and ultimately we lose our strength. As all of these attributes are declining, our soft-tissue structures—muscle, tendons, and our fascia—all become less pliable, making it harder and harder to move freely and much harder to train those qualities that we are losing. Focus on developing programs that address these areas, but in a safe and effective way.
Challenging your members with active range-of-motion training, progressive stability exercises and bodyweight power-exercise progressions are great ways to bring the more mature member back into the gym. The key thing to remember is to keep your members safe by only having them perform movements they are capable of. Then, as they really master those movements, you can have them progress to more difficult or demanding exercises.
At the end of the day, your fitness facility should be a place where all members want to spend part of their day. The truth is, many of the members who don’t use it currently just don’t know what benefits it offers, or might be overwhelmed about how to best take advantage of them.
So empower your fitness staff to engage with members throughout the club. Friendships will be formed that will encourage healthier lifestyles, a sense of community will be built, and members will see their membership in the club in an entirely new way.
Keke Lyles is recognized as a leader in human performance, with experience with professional athletes and Navy Special Warfare operators.