New Year, New Members Welcomed

New Year’s gym joiners are nothing new. Some can’t stand them, but the best practice is to welcome them and teach them how to fit in rather than try to pressure them out.

If you are in the fitness business, CrossFit or otherwise, I don’t understand the disdain for the “New Year’s rush” in terms of the groups of people who come flooding in the doors at the beginning of January.

I’ve read so many posts and have seen several memes on social media the past week about the anger toward the anticipation of the flood of new members as the calendar turns to 2016. Maybe in the globo-gym world this is more of a problem. At our CrossFit gym, we have a well-designed On Ramp program where those new to the gym are given a month of small class training and instruction before being invited to attend regular classes. Because of this, we tend to not deal with issues like “people doing curls in the squat-rack area” or “putting their water bottles and phones on the benches while I’m trying to do chest.”

January should be a time when folks are given a chance to better themselves. They may only stay for a month or a few weeks, but I believe they need to be given a fair chance. Maybe a new year really will be a real start for some of them. It’s your job to welcome them no matter what their experience has been before joining your gym.

We’ve all been that newbie and know what it’s like to gather up the courage to walk into a new place and put yourself out there in front of a group of strangers. There’s nothing easy about taking those first steps. If you, as a business owner or member, write them off before you even give them a chance and carry a preconceived negative attitude toward this flock of potential new clients, then you’re pushing away potential members of your community who could be productive clients and friends for years to come.

If these people are causing problems in your gym space, I’d suggest being proactive. What are your expectations? Where are the right and wrong places to put their gear and water and phones? Post your gym rules and mark locations around the place where new members should and shouldn’t be or where they should put down their stuff. To you, it might be frustrating or “common sense,” but for them, they really might not know whether someone is in the middle of using a bench or squat rack if they aren’t familiar with those things already.

The bottom line is that everyone has to start somewhere. Is it frustrating to have a herd of newcomers flock into your favorite place and get in your way as you are trying to take back your body after some poor holiday food choices? Sure it is. But if you are courteous and straightforward with them instead of being an ass about it, you could be reducing the frustration for yourself, everyone else and the newbies, as well.

Tell us about your experiences with either being a new member of a gym or how you deal with the influx of new members that coincides with the beginning of a new calendar year.

Stay on the Grind.