The fitness industry has a complicated relationship with intimidation.
On the one hand, it says, “We’re for everyone. It doesn’t matter how far out of shape you are or what you have going on in your life; we’ll welcome you with open arms.
On the other hand, it’s supremely proud of the intimidation factor that permeates every aspect of the industry. There’s a smugness that everyone who isn’t already participating in fitness can see from a mile away, and it gives the entire industry an aura of hypocrisy.
Intentional or not, that’s the truth; even if reading that, you can confidently say, “That’s not me, or that’s not our facility,” it doesn’t matter.
You’re part of an industry, and being associated with it brings certain baked-in judgments.
How do you fight it?
How do you reach the people who need fitness and need your services the most because, let’s face it, they’re the ones who are most likely to be turned away by an air of intimidation?
It starts with your facility.
If you want those people to walk through your doors, have a conversation with you, and sign up, your facility CAN’T afford to be intimidating.
The pushback on this line of thought is usually something about wanting it to be “aspirational.”
That’s fine; it doesn’t have to be intimidating to be aspirational. It can be welcoming (the space, not just the people) without being intimidating.
For example, the front desk/lobby area of @activelifelongbeach is modeled after the lobby of an upscale hotel.
Nice hotel lobbies do something very distinct; they’re inviting.
They make people want to be there.
They make people feel like they belong AND are they’re wanted.
In the case of Active Life Long Beach, that means it looks and feels like a lobby when you walk in, and you can’t see any of the equipment.
If you don’t believe this is a “big issue,” look at Planet Fitness. It’s a company with a 6.3 BILLION DOLLAR MARKET CAP whose entire schtick is eliminating intimidation.
6.3 BILLION with a B for having things like purple equipment, a lunk alarm, and free pizza.
While that’s likely not the type of business you are or want to run, the lesson is clear.
Eliminate intimidation from your space.
If you don’t know if your space is intimidating, ask your ideal clients.
Ask them how you can make it more welcoming.
Ask them what needs to change to get more people like them to walk through your doors.