While a glittering fitness facility filled with the latest and greatest equipment can make an impression, a great member experience is built on the little things. During the member-recruitment phase, fitness facilities can take small, cost-effective steps that can help lead to sign-ups. Afterward, providing the basics for members can keep them coming back.

I’ve come to appreciate these little things that gyms and health clubs do to create a great member experience, and compiled a list of small, actionable steps based on my own experience as a member of a local gym here in Madison, Wis.

Does your facility do similar things? What else are you doing for your members? I’d love to get your thoughts in the comments.

  1. Facility tour before joining. Even before I had signed the paperwork to begin my membership, the people at my fitness facility wanted to make me comfortable in the gym. Beyond simply showing me around, my tour guide explicitly requested that I ask any questions that I had about the equipment so she could demonstrate if need be. This small gesture made me feel like it was okay to ask any questions, and I actually did. My tour guide was patient and showed me how to use a piece of equipment that I was unfamiliar with, which saved me from future embarrassment.
  2. Free fitness assessment/program on sign-up. After I’d agreed to join the gym, I met with a trainer to discuss my fitness goals. They took about 30 or 45 minutes to walk me through a baseline fitness assessment, which pushed me to my limit. (As I recall, I spent a few extra moments sprawled on the floor post-workout —but it was great!) Using both my stated goals, and the results from my fitness assessment, the trainer put together a simple program for me, which was coupled with a low-pressure sales pitch for personal training. This approach got me in the gym and on the equipment right away.
  3. Friendly staff. This is such an easy step that it almost goes without saying, but a smile and a hello from a staff member can go a long way toward making someone feel welcome in a gym.
  4. Easy access to cleaning supplies. It’ll come as no surprise to you that gym equipment can get kind of gross during use. As a gym user, it’s important to me that I know the equipment I’m using is clean. And as a person who sweats (a lot) during a workout, it’s important to me that I’m able to clean up after myself and leave clean equipment for the next person. My gym makes sprays and wipes handy in each area of the gym, sometimes doubling up in an area to make sure there’s always an option to sanitize. In addition, they post signs gently suggesting that users clean up after themselves (which is, after all, the best way to ensure clean equipment).
  5. Variety of equipment. I admit it. Sometimes I get bored with a particular fitness routine. I like to change it up from time to time, and my gym lets me do that. With a strength area, a cardio area and an area dedicated to functional fitness, I can easily jump into a new fitness challenge. One key here is that within each area, members can try multiple things. Dumbbells, barbells, bumper plates, squat racks, cable rigs and benches in the strength area are complemented by treadmills, stair steppers, elliptical trainers, stationary bikes and rowers in the cardio area. The functional space has TRX Suspension Training™ systems, kettlebells, boxes, foam rollers and stability balls. My gym even has synthetic indoor turf (branded with the gym’s color scheme, of course), for sled pushes. The possibilities and combinations are basically endless. It’s great!
  6. Technology. Beyond providing free wifi (necessary for streaming that ‘Get Swole’ playlist!), my gym also provides free heart rate monitoring. Members can get access to a heart rate monitor and have information about their workouts displayed on numerous screens throughout the facility. It’s an awesome way to push yourself, and great for checking in on splits.

Every fitness facility, gym or health club serves different clientele, and has different ways of addressing specific user needs. The six things I’ve outlined above are just a few small things that I really appreciate about my club; the things that keep me coming back and paying that monthly membership fee. What can you implement in your club? 

Jason Scott is Online Managing Editor of Athletic Business.