I wrote this article around Halloween, but it seems like a good time to re-post it….
Ghost Members’…are you one?
Boo! It’s that time of year, Halloween. Just the other day I overheard one of my trainers mention to a client that he was “going as the Geiko Cave Man”@. (Frankly I don’t think he is hairy enough to pull it off). But from there my train of thought is a little convoluted, (nothing new for me) so follow if you can.
I was thinking of all the scary things people dress up as and ‘ghost’ popped into my mind. Now, I honestly don’t think I’ve seen anyone dress up like a ghost in years. But I distinctly remember my mother cutting eye holes out of old bed sheets for us when we were kids (sometimes flowered bed sheets, but we were kids!). Remember the movie E.T., when they dressed up the alien? That’s pretty much how we looked sans the giant head (actually, come to think of it my head is kinda big). Anyway, ghost is what popped into my head and from that little seed came ‘ghost member’. And here we are.
One of my funniest clients, “BOB”, not his real name (Okay it is, but everyone knows him anyway.) Bob belongs to a local gym but comes to me for training, as many of my clients do. Bob says, “ You know, every time I go to Xxxxxx Gym it cost me three hundred dollars.” ‘What do you mean”, I query. “Well” he replies, “my membership is six hundred dollars a year, and last year I only went twice.” (He is much funnier in person).
Every commercial gym/health and fitness facility has “ghost members. Eerie.. Casper, is that you? Don’t be afraid, they don’t actually haunt the facility; their role is just the opposite. These are members who keep paying, and paying but don’t ever show up to work out. The attrition rate for gyms/health clubs is the same across the country. Statistics show (I hate statistics) fifty percent will drop out of their exercise program within one year. The majority of that happens within the first12 weeks! But here again, the interesting fact is, that these ghost members continue to pay, often for a year or more. They keep telling themselves,” I’m gonna start up again right after…”
Does this sound like anyone you know? Maybe someone you know REALLY well?
The truth of the matter is that almost half of people, who join a ‘gym’, give up on their exercise routine within the first year. After paying their initiation fee and getting set up on the automatic payment system, members are typically left on their own. Within 6 to 8 weeks many have already lost interest. Add another 4 weeks and most of the ghost members are no longer haunting the gym. Boo!
The survey that queried these people found that the majority of them lost motivation because they did not believe they would see results based on their exercise routine. Others got discouraged if someone was on ‘their machine’ and lacked the knowledge to implement an effective alternative.
So, what’s the solution? What else, hire a competent trainer! I stress competent. He or she will analyze your abilities, limitations and goals. He/she will also do risk assessment to ensure your safety (it’s not about looking good in your coffin, is it?). Your trainers’ goal should be to safely guide you toward your goals by teaching the proper order, form and intensity of exercise. He/she can then create a schedule for you to follow, incorporating variety (giving you alternatives if someone is on your machine, boo-hoo).
Too many times I have clients ask me,” How many sessions will I need before I get my result?” Bad question (unless of course, you are my client reading this-then it was a good question). A better question might be, “what kinds of programs do you offer that will teach me what I need to know, so that I am empowered to achieve my goal independently?” (Yeah, I didn ‘t say it would sound better)
In addition to sessions sold in package form, your trainer should offer other types of programs designed to best suit you. Perhaps you would benefit from a four-week fast start program, or an eight-week body transformation program, etc. But do us all a favor Don’t start four weeks before you leave for the Caribbean. Puh-leez!
“I can’t afford that!”” It’s too expensive.” You say? Okay, I hear you. Most people cannot afford to hire a trainer for months or years at a time. Here are some ways to lower your costs and still have the benefit of a pro; 1. ‘Team training’- Find a buddy and have the trainer teach you both at the same time.2.Or take that concept a step further and you’ve got small group training, one trainer and three to five trainees. Or, 3.Hire a competent pro (there’s that word again) to teach rather than “train” you.
Buy a few sessions purely for instruction. Ask lots of questions and take notes. Writing what you see and hear is an effective way to learn quickly.
These are great options if the ‘one on one’ scenario is out of your budget. Although it is more work for the trainer, he/she should still be willing to adjust his/her rates per person.
The point is this: there are affordable effective options to enable you to achieve your goals.
Waiting for another event to resolve before getting back in to the gym is a passive approach to managing your fitness. It is just an excuse. So don’t be a ghost member. Get back in the gym; reach your goals and most of all HAVE FUN DOING IT!
Dennis Carroll is the founder of Premier Personal Training, Inc. in West Chester. He is also a nationally certified health and fitness coach and featured writer for the Fitness Experts Network. He can be reached @ firstname.lastname@example.org