It’s easy to ‘get’ that exercise is good for us.
That our wellness, longevity and vitality is positively affected by exercise. But then it gets complicated when we start looking for what exercise we ‘ought’ to do. Which exercise suits our lifestyle and personality. And most importantly, finding something that we can motivate ourselves to actually do.
24/7 gyms work really really well for some people.
They are super affordable and generally well set up with weights machines and cardio equipment. Inbuilt in the easy access, low-cost model is user accountability and self-management. In other words, you make sure you show up and you manage your own training. Not surprisingly, the people who get the most out of these gyms have a history of training and an established exercise habit. If you grew up playing sport, doing weights or cardio training then these gyms work for you. You ‘get’ the habit of making time to train, and you can navigate the cables, plates, pulleys and platforms.
Interestingly it is not these self-reliant individuals that make the 24/7 gym business model work. The industry standard for the 24/7 gym model is 14% usage. Those folks that actually use their membership make up only 14% of all the people paying $10 per week. In fact, if 80% of membership holders showed up to use their membership, there wouldn’t be enough machines to go around. So that model works for people who know what to do and how to do it.
So what about the rest of the population. People who want to exercise but don’t know the how or what for themselves.
What about people who value the environment they workout in? Those that might prefer a space that pays attention to details of aesthetics as well as function. What about people who value the level of instruction they receive? The experience of their trainer, the conversation they can participate in while working out.
This is not a gender question, which was famously answered by Fernwood gyms providing a women’s only space. Fernwood was not essentially different to any other gym but for its female-only policy.
This is a question about a friendly, welcoming space that is at once pleasant to behold. Staffed with trainers that make the process of learning new movements feel safe, supported and achievable.
It might seem like we’re asking a bit much for a workout space to be at once staffed with experts, well resourced in equipment, safe and supportive culturally for all types of people and pleasant to behold.
The funny thing is that a lot of exercise facilities spend big on fit out. Flashy new machines, state of the art treadmills, redoing bathrooms and change areas and forget that the special sauce that binds groups of people together is the shared experience and endeavour. The ability of a well-trained educator to hold a group of people and help them all to learn new, empowering skills is a far more valuable investment than treadmills and televisions.
This truth is often lost in our aims to maximise our use of time. In other words, the home workout trap. Everyone seems time poor these days. Kids, jobs, family, friends. It makes so much sense to combine exercise space with home space. And then the treadmill, spin bike, ab cruncher, yoga mat is next years garage sale fodder.
Australians spend billions of dollars per year on home exercise equipment. Some of us do use what we buy. Most of us don’t.
The problem with home exercise is that it is usually part of a new habit, or perhaps proto-habit is the accurate term and as such, it is all too easily bumped aside by other more well-established habits. The habit we develop doing 30 minutes on the treadmill, three times a week when we’re on our Christmas break is steamrolled out of the way by the return to work schedule.
Habits don’t get a chance to form if they aren’t actively prioritised.
This can easily be achieved at home. It’s just that all too often we think we can fit in our new habit without having to adjust our existing ones. It is there that the effort taken to make a couple of classes in a new place can help. Booking into a class, even once a week, is a much greater predictor of new habit adherence over time. Much more so than the purchase of home exercise equipment. An interesting side note here is also that when measuring how effectively people create new exercise habits price is a big factor. The cheaper the exercise option, the less likely the habit is to hold. So it is well worth considering the cost/loss of a treadmill or 12 month 24/7 membership that is statistically unlikely to go the distance versus the outlay/benefit of a medium cost, trainer lead option.
This sounds like a sell, and frankly, it is.
We know from first-hand experience that what our members value is our level of expertise, the variety of sessions we offer and the environment we provide.
24/7 gyms and home exercise units work really well for a small number of users. They generally work really really well for the franchise companies that run them.