“I broke up with my gym. We just weren’t working out anymore.”
Bad jokes aside, most of us have a very strong relationship with our favorite gym or studio. We see them as often as we can, they influence our daily routine, and we dread the idea of a break up.
But anyone who has made fitness a part of their lifestyle for long enough knows what it’s like to call it quits with their main gym – even when at one point it was an absolute love affair with the workouts, instructors and community.
But what really leads to a fitness divorce? What are the main gripes that fitness-goers have that really push them out the door and onto the workout floor of another gym?
We’re always on a mission to improve the client experience at RTC so we decided to compile some research on this topic by asking what made people leave their previous gym.
Some of the data surprised us, some of it was expected (which is troubling) but it was all very insightful. The feedback we’ve received thus far is summarized below and the findings are broken down into four main categories.
ONE: “It’s the social interaction, or lack thereof I should say, that had me looking for a new gym before my contract was even up. I don’t need everyone in my class to be my bff, but it’d be nice if they said hello! Sometimes even the instructors didn’t know my name and I had been going there for years!”
Community is a huge buzz word in the boutique fitness world. And while we all claim to have it, it’s something that many of us are actually missing, or it’s become an exclusive community with cliques and drama.
It’s sad, but this is a common complaint. In most scenarios, we heard that there was community of members that had mutated into some version of Mean Girls or that the instructors seemed completely absent and/or uninterested in creating and engaging with their community.
Gym social events, off-site parties or day trips to fitness-related activities like hiking or rock climbing were some of the awesome examples we heard from people who had finally found the right community to sweat alongside.
TWO: “The last place I belonged to was great…they had all the cool monitors & tech and the instructors were super motivating…but after a while, I got bored with the same thing over and over. My knees were constantly sore from the repetition of machines. I had been there over a year and felt like it was time to move onto something with more variety.”
Ah, the “it’s not you, it’s me” routine. A true classic that anyone seeking the cleanest breakup scenario possible has likely used.
Even the best fitness relationship needs to find new ways to keep it challenging and exciting. This was a huge fault many people cited with their previous fitness membership – workouts that involved the same stations/exercises too repetitively.
Sure, doing the same thing frequently allows you to benchmark and track performance improvements, but there’s also the need to keep the workouts entertaining. Hell, most of us joined group fitness classes because we were bored with just running on a treadmill and the same old lifting routine.
It seems that most aren’t looking for their gym to reinvent the wheel, but it’s nice when their fitness program keeps them guessing from time to time.
THREE: “I really wanted to push myself, but it was just too much all the time. I’m all in for a hard workout, but I don’t like being yelled at! The instructors thought it was motivating, but really it was harsh and demeaning!”
I think it’s safe to say that anyone exercising by choice isn’t afraid of putting in the work. We’d even venture to say that most of those people crave a challenging workout. But some gyms pride themselves on how extreme their workout is and even pushing their members to the point of puking (um, no thanks…if we’re going to puke, it’s going involve tequila and good times).
What’s more…this unnecessary level of soreness is often used as a badge of honor. But for many of us who like to engage in physical activity 4-6 days per week, that hardcore approach leaves us unable to get in the number of workouts we desire, or worse, leads us to injury that prevents ANY exercise for a time!
Lastly, these workouts typically place an ego-driven emphasis on how much weight you are lifting instead of how you lift it. We all know somebody who got injured doing too heavy of weight with poor technique and for most, that’s enough to call it quits with that gym. Yes, injuries happen at the best of gyms, with the best of circumstances, but the idea is to limit the risks, not increase them!
FOUR: “I know it might sound boujee, but I don’t care – I couldn’t stand how dirty my other gym was. They were great people, but every time I dropped down to do a burpee, my clothes and body would be covered in black residue and dog hair. You could even see the same sweat stains on the ground week after week. It was just gross.”
In a 2021 Instagram world where aesthetics are of the highest priority and everyone is documenting everything, this one was probably the most shocking, but it was one of the most common issues we heard.
There have been plenty of facilities that have opened up inside of grungy, industrial warehouses because they offer high ceilings and wide-open spaces that favor certain workout styles, but that doesn’t give the green light for a lack of hygiene.
Industrial chic is fine. Grime, week-old sweat and skin flakes are not…and no, the smell of bleach and a dirty mop bucket in the corner is not a vibe people want.
When you think about it, fitness studios need to be the most cautious of their cleanliness due to inherent risks that come with high traffic, sweaty people in close quarters (MRSA, staph, ringworm, flu and a slew of other common-sense concerns). This alone should entice these businesses to be thorough in cleaning procedures (SHOULD being the key word).