Proper etiquette can make or break a club
Wed, January 16, 2013 at 15:41
Brad Spiegel in Gym Etiquette, Healthtrax, L&T, Marina Lebo, News, flately, travis moore

Most clubs do not allow members to talk on their cell phones.There are many ways to get the importance of gym etiquette across to your members. 

With the Internet, you can add putting the club’s rules and regulations  on your website, Facebook page and Pinterest board, as well as sending Tweets and e-mails as reminders, to name a few. Add in the old stalwarts - signs on the wall and a printout that goes along with new member packets – and there should be no problem keeping your facility clean and your members happy, right? 

Well, unfortunately, that is not always the case. Especially now, in the first quarter of the year, when many new members come to your club on the heels of a New Year’s resolution or the start of getting their body ready for the beach. 

The transgressions can range from the obvious, like not wiping off a machine after use or hanging around a machine or area to talk to another member, to the not-so-obvious, like not having a towel in the sauna or a loud text message alert on the gym floor. 


Proper etiquette video

“I believe there is a disconnect when it comes to communicating (etiquette) to members,” said Allison Flatley, CEO, L&T Health and Fitness, which runs 53 fitness centers as well provides health and wellness programs for companies. “For examples, getting off cardio equipment so someone else can get on, or how to clean equipment: do I spray the machine and wipe with a towel or spray the towel and wipe the machines? “I know it seems simple … but sometimes it doesn’t get communicated.” 

There are many ways to get the club’s culture across to new and veteran members alike. 

Marina Lebo, executive director of Healthtrax in West Springfield, Mass., not only includes the rules of etiquette in a new member packet, a staff member goes over it with them. 

And, when a rash of new members comes through her doors in the first few months of a new year she will make sure staff is on high alert, reminding members to not talk on their cell phone except designated areas, no bare mid-rifts, T-shirts and flip flops need to be worn to the pool, and so on. 

“By Spring we hope we have everyone on board so there isn’t as much policing as there is in the first quarter of the year,” she said. 

Lebo added that Healthtrax is fortunate to have attentive veteran members who are not hesitant to report violators. Many will often alert the new member, or even the not-so-new in some cases. 

Bare mid-rifts are not allowed at Healthtrax in West Springfield, Mass.“We have regular members here seem to be catalyst and will tell others,” Lebo said. “Longevity (of members) makes your job as fitness manager easier. They not only follow the rules (but) they help out, too. If you have members who are setting the pace then others tend to fall in line quicker because it’s the norm.” 

Travis Moore is not a manager of a club so he doesn’t deal with the day-to-day goings-on. But he has been in the industry for a couple decades and is currently a territory manager for Life Fitness. With his experience he is aware of wrong-doings and talks to colleagues in the industry. 

He pointed out that issues like grunting while lifting, monopolizing a machine or area, and even clipping toenails in the locker room as some of transgressions he and his wife, who belong to different gyms, see. 

Moore feels that the changes can be made in two ways: making members aware of what is right and wrong, and the club operators being alerted. 

“There should be more emphasis on ways to let management know when something is not right,” said Moore. “It is great if there is a formal process. More comment boxes and steering members toward them would be good.” 

Lebo explained that Healthtrax has three ways to alert staff to violators: suggestion box, come to the front desk or flag down a staff member, or a feedback section on the website to do at home. 

Moore, Lebo and Flatley all agreed that keeping offenders to a minimum can be paramount to one of the most important aspects of a club: member retention.

“People will come in for tours and ask if we require members to wipe down equipment or allow cell phones on the floor,” Lebo said. “Consumers are much more educated now and have idea of what they want.” 

“I think a club with bad etiquette can greatly affect its retention,” Moore said. “I think if people not aware of what they are doing (wrong) and then are made aware, it can improve the culture of the club. It’s about educating members, telling them that it is not just about (them) getting in shape but about (everyone) getting healthier together.”



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