New gym members usually have enthusiasm to spare. But all it takes is a single injury to derail them. Not only is an injury painful and inconvenient, it gets the member out of the habit of going to the gym. Once they stop, it’s harder for them to start up again.
Injuries aren’t rare either. We live in a mostly inactive, deskbound society with poor movement patterns. Over time, a sedentary person’s muscles weaken, their spine and joints become less stable, and their range of motion shrinks.
They can’t catapult into a hard workout all of a sudden without risking damage. (In fact, the brain will actually try to protect the body by “locking down” an area placed under too much strain.)
The good news is that injuries are avoidable – particularly if the gym owner takes a few proactive steps to help their newer members work out smarter, not necessarily harder, at the start.
Here are some suggestions:
Utilize movement screening technology to show your members their current condition.
Next-level technology is making it easier than ever to accurately capture and assess a person’s movement patterns and muscle activity. Discussing the results with the member creates a great opportunity to transition them to a personal trainer, which leads us to the next point…
Recommend your members take advantage of a personal trainer.
A personal trainer can evaluate their fitness and mobility levels, and craft a program that makes the smartest, most efficient use of their workout time. A trainer can also help them set fitness goals (realistic, achievable ones), then help them work slowly and safely towards them, keeping them focused and making sure they are using correct technique. (Performing a movement screening beforehand can also identify a specific issue they should focus on with the trainer.)
Emphasize stretching and its importance.
It’s tempting for a person to skip stretching and get right into their workout. Discourage this whenever possible. Stretching is crucial to keeping the muscles long, lean and flexible, which is necessary for a full range of motion in the joints, and especially important for people whose muscles have grown tight from sitting all day at work. Suggest a stretching routine for your members and offer them exercise bands to assist them. (Similarly, you can show new members how to use foam rollers and lacrosse balls to deal with trigger points and stiff muscles after a workout.)
Tell them not to be embarrassed to take it slow and recover properly.
You may have some members who overestimate their abilities or are embarrassed to use 20 lbs. of weight when they see other people using 50. Gently help them put ego aside and look at their long-term goals. Pushing too far too fast is counterproductive. In fact, as mentioned above, the body may automatically restrict certain motions to protect a weak spot, causing sloppy technique at best and an injury risk at worst. Adding a recovery zone to the gym complete with quality items, including a HyperIce VENOM meant to loosen and relax stiff muscles, is always a smart investment!
Helping your new members work out smarter, especially in the early going, will not only help keep them injury-free and benefit them as they work towards their fitness goals, but will increase the likelihood that they maintain a long-term membership at your gym.