Operating a gym within a set of rules creates structure for both club owners and members. Whether your gym rules are created for safety purposes or just to build a harmonious, fitness-first experience, they are a significant asset to any well run health club.
1. Gym rules define your club’s culture.
The fact is many gyms do not post or enforce any rules. Recently, I trained as a guest at a national chain. This company has a reputation for indulging power lifters and gym rats. Although I knew this, the facility’s condition shocked me. Heavy weight sets were left on abandoned. Weight plates leaned against equipment. Dumbbells were scattered. Squatters loitered on benches. Equipment was not maintained. It was obvious management refused to enforce the rules. Now, because I know of their policies, I’ll never join that chain.
The expectations you set as an owner influences member behavior. By establishing a firm set of rules, you’ll create an environment and member experience that properly reflects your business goals.
2. Gym rules save you from lawsuits
Demetrius Moore, chief brand officer of American Fitness Center in Fayetteville Ga., found they had a problem. As a 24-hour gym, American Fitness provides members an access key card. Unfortunately, some clients saw that as permission to invite in nonmembers after business hours.
For American Fitness — and really any gym — a nonauthorized person exercising is a huge liability. Parents often brought children as well, he said, leaving them unsupervised and climbing on equipment. That scary scenario prompted his company to implement the Prohibited Access Rule.
This rule, which is posted on the doors, written in the contract, and emailed after member sign up, states only one person may use the access card. If they bring an additional person, they’ll be charged an automatic $25 fine, no questions asked.
In order to keep this problem at a minimum, American Fitness now offers a $10 family plan upcharge, allowing members to inexpensively add a favorite workout buddy. Most importantly, members know the Prohibited Access Rule will be enforced and so far, Moore says, unauthorized visits are no longer a problem.
3. Gym rules clarify what is unique about your community.
Although most gym rules encourage civilized behavior, these polices also reflect your environment.
Don Roberts, owner of Fitness Solutions 24/7 in Durango, Colorado, posts 24 rules at the front of his club. These are nonnegotiable and he’s canceled memberships over violations. Among his most important?
- Drinks and food allowed in locker rooms or lobby only
- Silence cell phones on gym floor
- Rude language and inappropriate behavior is not tolerated
- Dropping weights is prohibited
- Return all weights and accessories…
- Loud grunting or groaning not tolerated
- Share equipment…
- If you are not a certified trainer, do not give instructions
- Shirt and shoes required
- Excessive body odor, perfume/cologne is not tolerated
Roberts’ policies also reflect his rural community’s habits – wet shoes are left in the entrance and pets and bikes kept outside. The Mega Fitness Gym in North Myrtle Beach rules include “sand must be removed from shoes before entering.” While Moore’s gym permits members to play their own music through wireless speakers.
The bottom line gym rule.
In my research, I found some gyms love chalk, others hate it. Most discourage inappropriate clothing, staring at members, and hording equipment. But the most important rule is enforcement. Unless an owner stands behind his or her policies, no one else will follow them. It’s your gym. It’s your vibe. It’s your choice. Because just like my experience at the national chain illustrated, unenforced rules, or no rules at all, carry consequences for gym owners as well.
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