I have a friend in lower Manhattan who joined a gym in August. For a couple of months, she went regularly, and she found herself getting into a routine she liked. And then Hurricane Sandy struck. Her kids were suddenly out of school, and for a couple of weeks life was upended: no electricity, no running water, no public transportation. When things finally returned to normal, she was ready to resume her routine — but somehow she just couldn’t. Having been thrown off course, she found it impossible to pick up where she’d left off, no matter how much she wanted to.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, she received an email from her gym’s fitness concierge. “I didn’t know they had a fitness concierge,” she told me, “or even know what a fitness concierge is.”
The email was short and simple: “It looks like you have not checked into the facility for a little while, so I wanted to touch base and see how everything is going. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns regarding your membership.”
The fitness concierge, it turned out, was there to help her establish and stick to a workout routine. She listened as my friend told her she felt blocked about returning to the gym. She strategized with her about how to fit a workout into her complicated routine, around child care duties, school schedules, part-time work, and a volunteer commitment. She picked out classes for my friend to try and even went with her to a spin class, giving her pointers and encouragement as she tried to find her feet again.
This changed everything for my friend. Even the email alone had a big effect. “Just feeling like someone there cared, like they were keeping an eye out for me and they wanted to help me, made a huge difference,” she said. “It’s a giant gym. Hundreds of people belong to it. But the concierge turned her attention to me. She listened to me. That somehow made it possible for me to make the decision to start again.”
It can be easy to forget, when fitness is your bread and butter, that going to the gym is hard for some people. All kinds of psychological, logistical, and emotional factors come in to play. Helping people who are having trouble getting there is sound business practice — those people will come back again and again, and they’ll tell their friends how great your facility is. But it’s also much more than just sound business practice. It’s bringing to the forefront the humanity behind the business. It’s the real reason for getting into this line of work in the first place. Does your facility have a fitness concierge? Is it time to think about hiring one?