Let’s return to the interaction between Sam and Alex…
Alex has begun by being welcoming and warm, this is a great start for Sam to begin to develop trust. This in turn will help Sam to become more comfortable with this alien environment.
One would hope Alex’s primary objective is building a rapport with Sam, finding out what Sam’s expectations are, what their fears and concerns are and why they are at the gym. If we remember Sam’s confidence is incredibly low and doing anything to raise this is going to increase the likelihood of them returning for a second visit.
Previously we discussed the gym instructor’s role being around safety and this not just being about using the equipment, having the member feel safe in the gym environment is also of paramount importance.
This is why Alex must make Sam feel safe in the gym. For example, if we return to the manufacturing plant analogy, how secure and safe would you feel being in that factory, even with an expert next to you when people are moving machines around you, there are strange loud noises and everyone else knows exactly what to do, when you don’t?
Until Sam feels safe, they will not want to be in the gym. So, how might Alex begin to make Sam feel safe?
We believe there are five key influential, intertwined elements that Alex can utilise to assist Sam develop their confidence, particularly in relation to the first induction. Please note none of these are exclusive of one another you could potentially be using all five at once!
Let’s start with verbal. This includes the tone and pace Alex uses while teaching Sam, helping them understand something new. Both should be moderated according to the mood that they are trying to create, for example do they need to be energetic or calm and clear.
This is where communication skills come into play. Alex needs to read Sam and determine what they will best respond to. Do they need to use verbal communication, calmly explaining what they are going to do and why? Or, does Sam need to get going and do something physical where Alex can demonstrate their passion and enthusiasm?
There is no right or wrong answer, as it depends on the circumstances. In fact, Sam might need a little of both, therefore Alex needs to have the people skills to be able to decide.
Then there’s the language Alex uses. This should be appropriate for the situation, being positive in nature, not technical. This will help Sam feel more comfortable. If Alex consistently recognises what Sam is doing well and clearly articulates this, Sam’s confidence will grow. It seems simple enough and if you have ever worked with children or animals, you’ll recognise that positivity trumps negativity when it comes to encouraging behaviour change.
Finally, there’s the technicality of the language, it’s probably best to describe the upper arm joints as the shoulders, rather than the Glenohumeral, Scapula and Clavicular Joints! Sam needs to hear words and phrase that they know and understand. Now is not the time for an anatomy lesson, Sam has enough to remember!
In the following blogs we’ll continue to explore the other four elements a gym instructor can utilise to develop exerciser confidence.
In the meantime Chris Rock explains how Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs might apply to a gym membership…