fitness incentives

Home Sweet Gym

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I have a confession to make. Sometimes, when I’m too lazy to head to the gym but I know I need to exercise, I pull out my mat, look online for a good workout podcast or video, and start trying to get my heart rate up in my living room. I know that, without proper equipment (all right, without any equipment), without an instructor or personal trainer, and without fellow sweaty bodies, I’m not getting quite the level of exercise I need. But often convenience trumps quality.I’m not alone in this. A friend of mine keeps a stationary bike in her office; another one has an entire weight room in his basement. The fact is that sometimes fitness centers are competing for customers not only with other fitness centers, but also with those customers’ personal spaces. What can be done to pull people — yes, people like me — away from the yoga blocks in their closet or the medicine balls in their bedroom and into the gym

Of course, a health club will never be able to offer the convenience of a living room. But the benefits any exercise facility can offer far outweigh what can be found in the average living room. The key, then, is to focus on those benefits — in business-speak, the core competencies. What can a gym do better than a lone exerciser in her office?

Whatever it is, focus on doing it absolutely as best as you can. Trust that just being better at those things will draw at least some people who might otherwise never get out the door.That said, maybe there is a way for a gym to compete with the convenience of home: offer discounts to people who live locally — within a few blocks or a mile or two of the facility, say. Whatever your location, you’re convenient for at least some people. Make it your business to make sure those people know it.In addition, as with most things, incentives help. My gym offers a good one: Work out 180 days between one birthday and the next, and you get a month’s free membership. The thought of that sometimes entices me from my living room. There are hundreds of possible variations on this: come in a certain number of times and we’ll send ten dollars to your favorite charity, give you a free drink from the cafe, invite you to bring a friend for a free workout, put your name up on a poster announcing the current month’s most dedicated gym-goers, etc.

It’s hard to get us homebodies out of our personal spaces, it’s true, but it’s not impossible. Make it worth our while.

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