Why Gyms Keep Failing You

Why All Gyms Are The Same

What do Planet Fitness, Crunch Fitness, Maxx Fitness, LA Fitness, F45, Fitbody Bootcamp, Pure Barre, Club Pilates, Orange Theory Fitness, and TRV|FIT Fitness all have in common? They’ve failed you. These are all gyms or studios that have the same approach. They’ll offer you a free day pass, three free classes, or a free week. Their intent is that your workout makes you feel good enough to buy an ongoing membership. You’ll be offered a discount in your first month or a waived sign up fee to get you to commit. This is the plan that works for their business model. Don’t believe me? I was a franchise owner that followed the same thought processes. Each of these brands have tools and resources you can use to your advantage. So, how have they failed you?

Intensity As A Commodity

These gyms and studios have turned intensity into a commodity. For example, a commodity is a basic raw good that is interchangeable with other goods of the same type (think coffee, cotton, electricity, and oil). How has intensity been turned into a commodity? Gyms and studios are banking on the fact that no one has ever regretted a good workout. They’re also leveraging your emotions from being in a new environment, experiencing a new format, and new music to buy a low cost offer today. Here’s why that’s a problem and won’t get you what you want. 

The Problem With Gyms

Most people exploring gyms have some level of embarrassment, frustration or pain with their health and fitness. They’re in need of a solution, but they’re usually unsure of what that solution should include. You may be thinking, “that’s exactly why it’s helpful to have a FREE offer! Let’s get excited to start!” Motivation alone doesn’t lead to sustained success in any area of life. It’s an emotion that is a flash in a pan – it’s gone as quickly as it appeared and you’ll find yourself back at square one. How can gyms lead you to solve your problems without understanding your challenges, your past, your goals, and your why? Simple answer: they can’t.

Like Everyone Else

It’s embarrassing, but I tried this approach for the first 20 months that I owned Vault Health & Fitness. We were like all the other recognizable gyms and studios. We’d create an attractive offer, funnel you in the door and greet you with energy and kindness. Following that, we’d throw you into a group setting and you’d either sink or swim. Some people thrive with this approach, those are the swimmers. The ones that don’t thrive with that approach are the people that need the most help. They leave another gym or studio feeling defeated, unseen, unheard, and hopeless of finding a solution. 

Using Data

We’ve collected and analyzed a lot of data over the past 3 years by working with over 1,000 clients. Some people have had great success, while others have not. The most successful clients have been able to create consistency with their nutrition and training. Individuals that weren’t successful simply needed a better plan, that included more structure, and more coaching. Previously, we didn’t have a system to provide that for those individuals and that lack of structure failed those who had invited us to lead them to their health and fitness goals.

Our Pivot

During Covid, I took a hard look at our business and we made a big pivot that was scary. We decided to go against the grain of what other gyms and studios in our area were doing. We made a decision to create a process that took longer, that was less sexy, and wasn’t free: we suspected the process would work if we committed our resources to developing it. To date, everyone who had come through our doors had started with at least one free workout. I took pride in that approach, however that was about to change. Where my pride should’ve come from was having a deep understanding of what the person in front of me needed in order to be successful. I should’ve understood their anxiety, challenges, fears, and goals. Without that information, neither myself or the individual seeking help can measure progress or success.

Getting Started In Gyms

Our first change was switching out a free session for a free conversation. During that conversation we listen to your story, understand your needs, and make a plan that will lead you to your goals, all while setting realistic expectations and timelines. At the end of the conversation you’ll decide you believe we have the tools to lead you to success, you’re comfortable with us guiding your journey and you want to share the process with us. The alternative decision is that you’ll continue your search for sustainability in the land of commoditized intensity. We also see people not taking any action and allow their challenges to lead to more pain in their life. 

The On Ramp Process

When you decide to move forward with us, you’ll experience three key takeaways during your introduction program. We refer to this as On Ramp, which is delivered through one-on-one personal training.

First, you’ll learn how to train safely. This may be the first time you’ve participated in strength training. Getting hurt and derailing your momentum at the get go serves no value. The second benefit is learning how to move your body efficiently. You’ll want to see a return on your investment of time and energy. To see that return, you’ll need to do things correctly, in the way the program has been designed. We’ll take as much time as you need to get you comfortable with new movement patterns and skills, so that you a strong foundation for your workouts moving forward. Finally, like all happy, healthy relationships you’ve had in your life, we’ll use that one-on-one time to build trust and an open line of communication with you. 

Does It Work?

We use data as a tool to measure our clients’ progress. Since changing our on boarding process our new clients have seen better results, faster, and in a more sustainable way. The common factors in their success include consistency, more communication and having specific actions to take. After you’ve completed On Ramp, you’re not on your own. That’d make us the same as the rest of all of the other gyms and studios that have failed you. We’d be back to making intensity a commodity. Your progress isn’t determined by how hard your workouts are, how many calories you burn in a class, what heart rate zone you hit or how much weight you lift. Your progress is determined by your consistency (read more about consistency here).

You’re unique as a person, however, the challenges you face that disrupt your consistency, are not. We’ve identified that there’s only a handful of large level problems people face. Your specific situation will certainly have some details that vary from everyone else’s however, these scenarios are similar. That’s a good thing. This means we can help you navigate those challenges by providing specific action steps to get you (and keep you) on track. Time is going to pass either way. You can work through adversity with your goals in front of you. The other option is losing sight of what you’re working towards and allow your progress to erode. Every 90 days we meet with every member to measure their progress. That one-on-one coaching conversation allows us to stay connected with your journey and to give you a clear path of action moving forward. 

It’s Your Turn

My hope is that this article has been useful for you. If you’ve been struggling to gain traction with your health and fitness and are tired of the same approach (dressed up differently) by other gyms and studios, we’d love to invite you to experience something different. Your health is one of the few things that you’re born with, that you’ll have your entire life, and that you’ll die with. It’s personal and intimate to you. We want to hear your story, understand where you’re at, and give you a personal plan to lead you to where you want to go. 
If you’re ready for a change or you’re ready to take action, you can book your free conversation by using the link below. We’re excited to sit down with you! 


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