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Health Club Owners and Staff Can Improve Their Business by Becoming Newcomers

To improve your odds of attracting new members, keep in mind how newcomers see your fitness facilities and what they might think and feel when they walk in your doors.

As the leader of my training facility, I always keep our facility's purpose and vision in my mind. I share with my staff the big picture as it relates to our business's journey. I ensure we create a comfortable training environment for our clients. I also anticipate a prospective client walking through our doors, and I encourage my team to keep this same purposeful thinking at the forefront of their minds.

Every day, prospective clients walk into our facility, and before we even open our mouths, they determine whether or not they will return. The presentation (reception at the door, anticipating their concerns, needs and wishes) determines their interest more than the content (the true X's and O's of exercise physiology, personal training or your class schedule) does.

We need to keep this in mind. What do prospects see when they walk through your front door? How does that make them feel? How are they treated? You can get a feel for this by doing the following:

  • Sit in the parking lot to observe traffic patterns to see if problems exist.
  • Attend one of your facility's classes.
  • Work out during a busy time of day to see if you need a better layout.
  • Work the front desk to connect with your community of clients.
  • Survey new and long-term clients to gain their insight.

The quality, consistency and personal impact of our environment defines our gym, and our environment determines what people think about our facility. 

As leaders, we are responsible for shaping the way people view our facilities. We can't leave this to chance. Our ability to continue to transform lives rests on a team approach to creating irresistible exercise and training environments.

However, since our team is ultimately the first line of our presentation, they also must play their part. To be better service providers, they should experience our facilities from our clients' shoes. You can help them do this by going through the following exercise:

Gather your team for a meeting on your training floor but don't tell them the purpose of the meeting. You may have to do this before or after hours or during a slow time to get a better perspective. Have all the lights, radio and everything else running as if clients were in the facility working out.

Hand your team envelopes with the scenario mentioned below in them along with a pen. They should sit down in the gym somewhere by themselves and look around for three minutes. After three minutes, ask them to open the envelopes and follow the instructions on the sheet. Give them three minutes to quickly write down what comes to mind in either a bullet point or incomplete thought format. You can change the scenario to fit your ideal perspective client. 

Here is what you should have on the sheet:

Scenario: Imagine that this is your first time to our facility. You are not a regular gym goer. You are not anti-gyms. You just do not see any need to go. Someone invited you, and here you are. 

Respond to these questions from the standpoint of a newcomer:

  1. When you look around our facility, what comes to mind?
  2. What concerns you?
  3. What do you wish you knew?
  4. What do you hope does not happen?
  5. What would make you more comfortable right now?
  6. What information would you like to be taught?

Afterwards, gather your team and walk through each response. Allow the staff members to fully explain their reasoning behind their answers. You will be amazed at the clarity this simple exercise brings to your team's empathy toward new clients and long-term, loyal patrons.

For our facilities to continue to be the first line of defense in reversing the health crisis and help the unfit and unhealthy, we must first capture our prospect's attention. It is our responsibility as leaders to shape the way people view our facilities. We cannot leave this to chance. 

Cast a vision that captures the hearts and imaginations of our team first. Help them see how newcomers might view our facilities. Then, help them create a magnetic and irresistible presentation that allows prospects to take the powerful small steps to living a fit and healthy rhythm of life.


Brent Gallagher is co-owner of West U Fitness in Houston with his wife, Cassie. He can be reached at

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