Why do we join a gym? Is it to feel insecure in a public place? To become part of the IN crowd? Or maybe to become one of the high fiving bros or spin queen? My guess is none of the above. Most people join gyms because they want to look and feel better. It is as simple as that. So why do so many people fail at reaching these goals? It’s simple, because most gyms want you to fail.

I want to preface the rest of this post by stating that I am not trying to personally attack any business or business method. I am merely pointing out facts that exist in this industry and from those facts certain conclusions can be made.

I worked in big box aka Globo gyms for about 6 years before I completely ventured out on my own and opened Charm City CrossFit. Those 6 years were a great learning experience for me. I learned a lot about the industry, about fitness, health, mobility, trends, and some about business. I found that the best sources of information were colleagues, not my employer. The gyms themselves were mainly concerned with profits or revenue, which every business should care about, but in my humble opinion and experience, profits will rise when you consistently deliver an excellent product. In simpler terms, if you want to make money the best way to do it is to genuinely give a shit (excuse the language).

Let’s take a look at a Globo gym business model. They setup shop in convenient locations for their target consumer. They accept any one and everyone that walks through their door and crams membership options down their throat (usually by the muscly sales bros or the hourglass shaped ladies). They almost exclusively sell 12 month contracts and once they have you locked into one, literally all customer service is out the window. Next time you’re in the gym ask one of the member sales associates for help on a lift and take note of their response (or lack there of). How many members do you think they have? 500? 1000? 5000? It is obviously hard to guess since every club is different but one thing I can guarantee is that they cannot possibly accommodate every single member they have signed up.

So let’s take a second and think about that. Think of how many people you know that have a gym membership but have not been there to workout in over a week or even a month. This is a very common phenomenon. In fact while working at one of the larger health clubs I learned a shocking statistic - out of all the members that joined the gym, roughly 7% of them would not return after their sign up date for an entire year. That still sounds absurd to me but it is, or was at the time, true.

Big box or Globo Gyms are expecting you to not come in and use the membership you pay for. In fact, their entire business model is built around it. If each member attended and used the facility on a regular basis the building would be far over capacity, especially during the peak morning and evening hours. But as long as you continue paying your monthly dues everything is A OK. So your local Globo gym is literally banking on you not committing to your own health and fitness.

I do not say this as an advertisement or trying to plug my own business in any way, but this is where the CrossFit gym and other fitness studio differ the most from big Globo Gyms. Due to the smaller membership size and more community feel, the coaches, trainers, and staff at these smaller businesses can build relationships with the members. Not only that, but members build relationships with other members. Everyone is pushing each other to continue and when someone doesn’t show up for a couple days guess what happens? People actually notice and they genuinely care.

Sure you can get that type of attention at a Globo gym, however it usually comes hand in hand with a personal trainer. Personal training, in my opinion, is probably the best way to stay committed to your health and fitness because you have a professional guiding you and holding you accountable all along the path. The only drawback to hiring a personal trainer is the cost. I know personal training is not cheap. I have been working in this industry for years and training is a luxury that many are unable to afford. If you can afford it that is fantastic and I strongly encourage doing so, if you are serious about your health goals. But if not, smaller gym studios like a CrossFit gym offer the option of essentially sharing a personal trainer with a small group. The routines may not be quite as personalized, but a good coach can tailor any workout to each individual’s ability.

As stated above, this post is not to bash any business or model, but merely to express the observations I have made over my years in this industry and certain conclusions that can be drawn from them. I strongly encourage anyone to exercise no matter where they choose to do so. My only request of anyone is that they set a goal and commit to it as best they can.

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