An individual can access fitness anywhere. They can go for a run, or walk in their local park. They can go for a swim, they can buy some free weights, or purchase a fitness DVD to use at home. So why would they join a fitness facility, or employ a Personal Trainer (PT)?
There are probably many reasons, and all of the reasons are personal to the individual. For some, it may be for social reasons, while, for others, it could be about support, confidence building, or education. Another reason is that they may be looking for an EXPERIENCE in fitness than they cannot get anywhere else.
Let’s be honest – fitness is free – it’s always been free. So why would an individual pay for fitness? Maybe a better question is what does an individual look for in a facility or space that makes them decided that they wish to pay for fitness and remain a member long-term?
There are probably two reasons why an individual joins and stays at a facility; content and context.
The content is the building, the facility itself, the changing facilities, the equipment offered, the pool, the café or bar area and so on. All of these are important. However, content is not unique: anyone can copy content!
Most people have had the experience of buying a car that is new to them and have experienced the excitement/joy of driving the car for a few weeks, because it is new. After a few weeks that initial excitement/joy seems to wear-off, and it’s just a car again. This, if not recognised, could be how many individuals feel about a facility.
The other reason an individual joins and possible the reasons for them remaining a happy member is context. The context is about HOW something is delivered/presented. The HOW cannot be ignored.
Content and context are not going to be effective when used alone; they must be used together. The fitness industry to this point has focused for too much on the content; the exercises, the latest training approach, the size of the pool, or the quality of the changing facilities.
This is important but it’s all logic and logic has very little to do with driving behaviour. Driving behaviour is about feelings. Making individuals feel as if they belong, communicating that they are safe, and that their future is here with the facility is key and this comes from the HOW.
Context is about culture [apparently from the Latin cultus, which means care]. Context has everything to do with staff behaviours and interactions. Getting the balance right between content and context is going to be a challenge, but it is a balance that is massively important in the battle for individual loyalty to a facility.