• 5 Tips to Overcoming Gym Intimidation

    by John Agoglia February 2014

    Gym intimidation garners a lot of focus in news stories and motivational columns, and not just due to Planet Fitness' entertaining ad campaign. From the Huffington Post to the Times of India, reports of the impact of gymtimidation -- as Planet Fitness has coined it -- is a leading reason why some 80-percent of the population continues to avoid joining a health club.

    According the Times of India, a recent study conducted by a UK magazine found that "women find exercising at the gym embarrassing and uncomfortable, especially when other people look at them."

    This is not a new revelation, by any means. But, it's not a women-only issue, as men seem to suffer from gym shyness as well.

    A recent NBC News article claims that men are intimidated about not being able to "bench a Volkswagen."

    "The feeling of intimidation is likely quite similar for men and women, varying in intensity, of course, depending on how extreme the (negative, self-assessing) thoughts become. But the triggers can certainly be different,"  Dr. Simon Rego, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York tells NBC News.

    And while many articles give tips and tricks for people to overcome this obstacle, from working out with a buddy, to programs and equipment for getting fit at home, the question is beyond entertaining commercials and "Lunk" alarms (which seems to be a judgment to me). What can independent health club owners do to help get intimidated members to come through the door, while still catering to the more hardcore fitness fanatics?

    "It really comes down to not only creating an inviting environment, but understanding that certain people -- and groups of people -- have more insecurities than others," says Bill Rundle, owner of Boston-based Mission Fitness. "We have started a special program on the suggestion of one of our mature members that allows that demographic to work in small groups together so they have support and someone to help them."

    It is programs such as this, as well as a good on-boarding process, services, and amenities, that will help clubs build a reputation for being a safe environment, which will help attract and retain those that are a bit  wary of joining a gym.

    5 Ways to Build a Less Intimidating Brand:

    1. Separate free weight, cardio and selectorized machines to reduce intimidation. You don't need to keep weights too light or dissuade people from working hard. Just allow people to go where they are comfortable.

    2. Have demographic- and goal-based programming to allow members to feel comfortable in a group of similar people.

    3. Assign a staff or member buddy to all new members so they will feel welcome and as if they know someone at the gym.

    4. Allow for private showers and changing areas in the locker rooms. 

    5. Be inclusive with your marketing efforts. Don't just focus on one type of member or group.


    John Agoglia has spent nearly two decades either working in health clubs or writing about them. He currently writes for several digital and print publications in and out of the fitness industry. 

  • 3 Ways Health Clubs Can Help Keep Kids Active

    by John Agoglia February 2014

    As reported by Athletic Business yesterday, a recent study published in the Wall Street Journal shows that participation in the top four youth sports are on the decline. While that could be seen as an alarming revelation given the current obesity epidemic, it can also be viewed as an opportunity for club owners to help pick up some of the slack and keep America’s youth moving. 

  • A Perspective Shift May Help Club Owners Get Teens Active

    by John Agoglia January 2014

    When one person walks into a room they may notice that the walls are painted blue; meanwhile their friend notices the room’s warm temperature. How we view things is based on our unique perspectives. 

    As an industry, health clubs may have a somewhat inaccurate perspective when it comes to certain topics. 

    This isn’t anybody’s fault. This error in perspective is simply an inevitable product of unavoidable circumstances. 

    caglecartoons.comLast week, a widely-covered story reported that only 1 in 4 American kids ages 12 to 15 meet the government’s recommendation of an hour or more moderate to vigorous activity every day. Depending on the perspective of the person reading this story, it can mean a number of different things. 

    If you, like me, have kids that are involved in sports, achieving that level of activity appears to be relatively easy. My son, who plays hockey, has two practices and two games coming up this weekend alone. My perspective is that he is getting his recommended activity. 

    RELATED: Weight Control and the Workplace: A Valuable Opportunity for Clubs

    Of course, another perspective would see that he hasn’t had a game or practice all week, so many days are spent sitting in front of the Playstation, instead of being active. The ten minutes of recess per day, and two thirty-minute gym classes each week do not come close to helping him achieve the recommended level of activity. 

    Club owners should adopt the perspective that this report provides an opportunity to not only help kids be more active, but also carve out a niche that can help them improve their bottom line at the same time, by catering to an untapped demographic.

    There is a chance to offer some great after-school fitness programs (or to reach out to the school in town and offer additional “gym” time). There is a chance to train young athletes as well as those that just need to move more to meet the recommended levels of activity. It really comes down to perspective. 

    It takes more than just scaling down traditional fitness programs and techniques, because while effective for kids, they may not be enough to get kids excited and committed to living a healthy lifestyle. In other words, look at it from a kid’s perspective.

    RELATED: Obesity is Considered a Disease: What Does That Mean for Clubs?

    “The first thing with programming that a fitness center can do is embrace the concept of play- based activity,” says Pat Rigsby, Co-Owner, CEO, Fitness Coach, Director of Fitness Marketing and Fitness Business Development at Fitness Consulting Group. “Exercise shouldn't be viewed as work, and if it is, kids will be far less likely to embrace it. If activity is fun, kids are much more likely to engage.”

    But it also takes a shift in the way a club thinks of itself and its services—not to mention how it goes about letting others know about the shift. So, a self-aware perspective shift. 

    “Overall, just having a very proactive approach to get all kids involved rather than simply reacting when a child or family wants to get involved would go a long way to improving the health of children,” Rigsby advises club owners. 

    Sure, it may take some work to change your club’s perspective to be more inclusive of kids than just having a babysitting room for the little ones, to one that can help get the next generation fit. But, that shift allow, health clubs, not only help get kids healthy today, but turn them into members for years to come.

    John Agoglia has spent nearly two decades either working in health clubs or writing about them. He currently writes for several digital and print publications in and out of the fitness industry.

  • Hackfit Adds Exercise, Healthy Diet to Weekend Hackathons

    by Nick Daniels January 2014

    Think of computer programmers and coders, and long hours in front of dimly lit screens surrounded by empty energy drink cans and fast food wrappers might be the image that first comes to mind, but technology and fitness startup Hackfit are hoping that image may soon be on the way out.

  • CrossFit Community Rallies Around Paralyzed Athlete

    by Emily Attwood January 2014

    The CrossFit community was shaken earlier this week when one of its members was severely injured in what is being described as a freak accident. During a competition in California, Kevin Ogar, a trainer with CrossFit Unbroken in Englewood, Colo., severed his spine while doing a lift, leaving him permanently paralyzed from the waist down.

  • Everything You Need to Know to Work for Rob and Barry

    by Rob Bishop December 2013

    We wrote last month about suggestions we'd offer to young prospective job seekers. That got us thinking about our column from October 2011, "19 Rules for Dealing With Generation Y Employees." It seems that rules, advice and management checklists have become a big part of our lives as owners and managers. We accept the responsibility that we often have to teach our staff members things that we used to assume everyone knew, such as how to shake hands and look someone in the eye to say "hello."

  • Former Sporting Goods Exec Rallies Industry Around Inactivity Epidemic

    by Paul Steinbach December 2013

    While president of Wilson Sporting Goods at the time tennis was bouncing back from its 1990s participation slump, Jim Baugh began fielding calls from industry peers wondering how the turnaround could be replicated in other sports. That got Baugh thinking about a broader inactivity epidemic taking shape in America.

  • Weight Control and the Workplace: A Valuable Opportunity for your Club

    by John Agoglia December 2013

    Employers are feeling the weight of the obesity epidemic, and are struggling to find ways to implement programs that work, says a report released by Northeast Business Group on Health.

  • Partnership with TRX Instructor Brings Firemen’s Fitness In-House

    by Emily Attwood December 2013

    The Middleton, Wis., Fire District was looking for a solution to keep its 120-person volunteer force in shape. "What we do is pretty serious," says fire chief Aaron Harris. "In a moment's notice, we could be fighting a structure fire. The strains on the body, the heart — the number-one leading killer of a firefighter is heart attacks — it's something we wanted to address."

  • Your Health Club Needs to Utilize the Power of Video

    by John Agoglia December 2013

    If a picture was worth a thousand words, then how many words is a video worth? Today video is more important than ever for clubs looking to optimize lead generation. That doesn’t mean independent health club owners should forget their blogs, Twitter accounts and other content marketing avenues we’ve discussed in the past. But, they do need to know that the correct content, used in the correct way, is truly king.