America is often criticized for its lack of consistent, healthy, adequate physical fitness in both children and adults. New numbers are reporting that less than 5% of adults participate in a half hour of exercise daily, and only one-third of adults participate in the physician-recommended amount of weekly physical activity. A new study published in August 2018’s edition of the Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine has surprising findings about adults’ physical health and their connection with childhood gym class.
The Iowa State University research team that conducted the study compiled a lengthy online questionnaire and recruited 1,000 adult respondents (392 male and 636 female, aged 18 to 45) nation-wide to take said questionnaire. The survey asked each respondent to describe their best and worst memories from childhood gym class in as few or many words as they like. They also asked about the respondents’ current attitudes and approaches to physical activity.
The overall trend showed a significant correlation between the enjoyment of PE and a healthy attitude toward themselves and physical activity today. Over a third of respondents reported feeling embarrassed by their experiences in childhood gym classes, and 18% reported a general strong lack of enjoyment in gym class activities. These respondents tended to report a lack of enjoyment in exercise today, and no plans to exercise soon or visit the gym.
So how can this forgotten fitness demographic be made comfortable in a gym environment? There are a few things health club management can consider when they want to expand their client base. Here are some suggestions for pulling in gym-shy customers:
- More private locker/changing areas. Many people report strong discomfort with the public nature of changing clothes in locker rooms for childhood gym class, an insecurity which often carries to adulthood.
- Having organized gym management software with tools for members. If busy non-gym-oriented people can use easy billing systems for gyms and browse upcoming classes online, they might be able to shed some extra gym-related stress.
- Make equipment tutorials accessible and friendly, possibly via your gym management software. Not everyone learned how to use weights and common gym equipment during school. Having easy access to non-judgmental teachers or learning tools can build members’ confidence with using equipment and lessen perceived embarrassment.
- Make sign-in a breeze. Using automated check-in systems for gyms and equipment sign-out can lessen stress on gym members by lessening the amount of interpersonal interaction they have to go through.
Would you ever consider trying a few of these ideas to appeal to less eager gym patrons? By making small changes in your gym management software, your resource offerings, and your physical facilities, you could invite in a whole new group of people in need of fitness education and support.