Gyms have traditionally been spaces that cater to a specific demographic, leaving many individuals feeling excluded and uncomfortable.
However, as the fitness landscape evolves, gyms stand to gain a lot by taking on a more inclusive approach to their offerings. This involves providing a welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds, body types, abilities, and health conditions.
In this article, we explore four compelling reasons for gyms to embrace inclusivity and focus on creating a space that is accessible, welcoming, and enjoyable for everyone.
Promoting Health & Well-being For All
The primary goal of any gym is to promote health and well-being, and by becoming more inclusive, gyms can take this mission to a wider audience across all walks of life, and help them achieve their health and fitness goals.
When gyms and fitness centres cater to diverse populations, individuals who have historically felt excluded or unwelcome start to feel more empowered to prioritize and work on their health and well-being.
This further extends to individuals with disabilities and chronic health conditions, who might require specialized equipment, programs, and assistance. By catering to such individuals, a gym can build a lot of goodwill within its community, building much-needed resilience in the long run.
Encouraging Diversity & Breaking Stereotypes
People tend to form stereotypes and unfairly judge others when there is a lack of diversity in their environments.
Diversity is a valuable asset that only enriches communities, and this holds particularly true for gyms and fitness centres. By embracing diversity, gyms can challenge various societal stereotypes pertaining to body image and fitness.
Many individuals avoid joining a gym due to fear of judgment or feelings of inadequacy, and the best way to deal with this is via a more inclusive and diverse atmosphere. Gyms should encourage people to join, regardless of their size, weight, ability, and body shape, motivating them to work towards a healthy future.
Expanding The Customer Base
The most apparent reason to focus on inclusiveness is the potential expansion in the overall customer base of a typical gym. By actively dealing with and addressing the concerns of underrepresented groups, gyms can tap into several subsets of different demographics which have long been overlooked.
Typically, most gyms have little to offer for skinny thirty-somethings, who are often way past their prime to start sculpting their bodies. As a result, they miss out on a massive market, with a significantly higher disposable income than 20-year-old college students.
There are also a wide range of additional services that can be provided to older adults, along with those suffering from chronic illness, mobility issues and other health concerns.
This might seem like a tall order for most, let alone a gym to accommodate successfully. However, with innumerable tools and solutions from dedicated care management vendors, it is certainly within reach for those who are willing to give it a try.
Higher Retention Rates
It’s well known to most people in the industry that as much as 90% of people who get a new gym membership quit within the first 90 days. Only a small handful make it past the coveted one-year mark to renew their membership for the new year once again.
In addition to laziness, lack of motivation, and insufficient time, a common reason most people give up going to the gym is the unwelcoming and even downright hostile behaviours they tend to encounter.
This is a huge problem, one that costs the fitness industry billions in lost revenues each year. The best way to solve this is by making facilities more inclusive and welcoming and less hostile to retain members for years to come.
Inclusivity is the way forward for gyms to thrive in an ever-changing world. For gym owners and managers, working towards inclusivity and diversity adds value beyond just the bottom line, with plenty of goodwill and reputational and non-monetary rewards to be gained.
There are innumerable examples of traditional gyms that were once cesspools of toxic masculinity, having transformed into friendly, welcoming places for people of all backgrounds. These examples show the way forward for the broader health and fitness industry.