Instructors and PTs in the future will (if staffing is part of the story) be required to understand how a client/exerciser will respond, both physically and psychologically to the session content and the instructor/PT behaviours.
This is because feelings turn a service into an experience. Effective workout design and long-term programming is a given of course, as members want results. Offering a different though, turning a service into an experience will require a high level of emotional intelligence, since experiences are services with added individual positive feelings. When positive individual feelings are a factor in the success of a facility, staff will play a huge role in ensuring the right message is delivered every single time.
Emotional Intelligence [EI] is NOT just about empathy and social skills. Although they are the important outwardly facing components of EI and are fundamental in relationship management.
Empathy is an understanding others and treating people according to their emotional reactions (there are other definitions) where the hallmarks are sensitivity, service to customers and clients.
Social skills are about managing relationships and building networks as well as finding common ground to build rapport.
According to Daniel Goleman  there are 5 components of EI (empathy and social skills already mentioned). Therefore, instructors/ PTs will require these skills just as much as the workout and programming skills they currently possess, if a facility is going to create a different on the gym floor.
The other 3 are:
- Self-awareness: understanding one’s own moods and how they affect others. Self-assessment skills and apparently a self-deprecating sense of humour are necessary to look for when assessing self-awareness in others.
- Self-regulation: the ability to think before acting. Integrity, trustworthiness and openness to change are found with this component.
- Motivation: to pursue goals with energy. Optimism, persuasiveness and commitment are all signs to look for.
The positive element about the above is like all skills – they can be trained. With the correct balance of education, training and individual development, all staff (if willing) can learn to improve their EI skills.
In the book “The Experience Economy”, the author J. Pine mentions that one of the characteristics of an experience is that they are ‘STAGED’ events.
Perhaps the 5 EI skills are a fundamental component in providing a STAGED event. Evidence of the above can be found with the clear link between emotional maturity and financial performance. High levels of EI in the workplace leads to trust, which is massive when developing an exerciser’s confidence and competence.
EI also allows for improved learning environments – again, this is massive in the exerciser’s perception of value (worth) they are getting from a facility.
‘Mood contagion’ is when someone’s emotional style drives everyone else’s moods and behaviours . Mood contagion must be a consideration when designing environments that drive increased adherence that leads to improved retention.
The strap-line to this series of blog posts was ‘There is no such thing as neutral design’. Basically, everything we do says something about ourselves.
This includes equipment choice, equipment placement, and the supporting environment. We cannot just place equipment in a space without it communicating some kind of message to the end-user.
When it comes to success, everything f&*king matters. As the fitness industry grows and the number of facilities increase, the battle for member acquisition and retention multiplies.
Having a space that is just full of equipment, may no longer be enough to support long term success for a facility.
 NUDGE-Thaler and Sunstien
 Adapted from J. Trout (Differentiate or die)
 On Emotional Intelligence [HBR 2015]