Welcome to another Sunday. Quick shout out to the 28-Days-Later crew who kick off TOMORROW…28-days of focus, 28-days of establishing good habits – and (hopefully) 28-Days of RESULTS. I love doing this challenge and am looking forward to both cracking in myself AND watching everyone else just ‘up their game’ by 10% or so (honestly, most of us are 100% good 90% of the time right??) and get amazing results at the end…
Before kicking off this week – I just wanted to say a quick thanks to everyone who came along to the BBQ last Friday night. Our plan is to do this every 6-weeks or so throughout the year and hopefully it is an event that everyone can look forward too? I know there is an element of “Well, it would be better to catch up AWAY from the gym” about the whole thing – but at the same time it is an opportunity for those people who WANT to ‘kill 2-birds with 1-stone’ (have a beer, a chat AND do a workout) to do it…and it is (after all) only going to happen every 6-weeks or so. Anyway, we’ll get the dates organised and published for the next event soon enough and it would be great to have a big turnout.
ANYWAY… – on with our story!
We had a new client come in the other day – and one thing she explained to Tracey was that the ‘Round 1 website is pretty intimidating’. Personally I would have gone with old and needs updating (yep, that’s on me) but intimidating? But then I thought about it for 5-seconds and it probably is a little…but NOT as intimidating as actually walking through the doors.
I pretty regularly head off to other gyms around the place to see what they are up to – and honestly it is an intimidating experience. Everyone knows everyone – except me. Everyone knows where everything is – except me. Everyone knows the rules – except me. And I could probably go on. And I have been around gyms most of my adult life – I feel that by this time I have pretty much seen it all from large globo-gym style enviroments with a/c, carpet and everything ‘pretty’ to basements featuring water leaks and rusty equipment as the only ammenities – and I’m pretty comfortable dealing with any situation. I know how to do most movements and can do them pretty competently (yes, even at my advancing age!) and yet I STILL FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE in a ‘new’ space. Somehow I don’t quite belong and it is INTIMIDATING. And if I feel intimidated, I can only imagine what it feels like for anyone who is in the gym for the first time having not trained for 5-years (or longer!).
Just to keep the examples rolling, Tracey and Emma visited another local gym a couple of weeks ago together – and basically said they probably would have walked out before the workout started had they not been there together. When they arrived, everyone was standing in a circle chatting – they felt excluded and uncomfortable…and ultimately unwelcome. Did they stay for the workout? Yep. Are they going back? Probably not. And I can here you guys saying “Well, why would they – they can just train at Round 1”. Which is true. But spending ALL your ‘non-work’ time in your work environment? That’s not always the most fun prospect…and for the gym they visited, well, that’s a couple of clients lost because two newbies felt they didn’t ‘fit’. Was it anything sinister? NOPE. My bet is the people there were just catching up with their gym buddies before a session – talking about their kids, what they did last night etc. But for the newbies walking in? Well, it looks and more importantly FEELS cliquey!
Ultimately gyms ARE intimidating – no-one wants to feel ‘stupid’ – and when you are NEW all you want is to not feel like a goose. I mean, people regularly tell me they are too scared to walk through the hole in the wall (boxing gym to strength gym) to grab an ab-wheel/use a bike, let alone actually DO a class…and these are people who have been coming to Round 1 for YEARS. It’s hard to explain but it is definitely a ‘THING’ – and if just crossing a threshold INSIDE the gym is intimidating, imagine again for a second showing up for your first class?
I am at a new footy club this year and the same ‘stuff’ applies – there are a heap of new kids there for the first time (18 year olds are kids, right???) and all everyone wants to feel is that they belong. It’s funny though – even though they all wear the same clothes (they are effectively given a ‘ticket’ saying they belong on their first night) it is PEOPLE that create the connection! I have told this story a couple of times over the past few days because to me it perfectly illustrates how simple these connections can be to establish…but once they are made, they STICK.
Anyway – here’s the story. Wednesday night was the first day back at school for a lot of them so as we started I asked the group how they had managed their food throughout the day so they could get through what was going to be a pretty tough session. A few of the boys volunteered to share – which was great…WHAT they shared wasn’t necessarily great but it started a great conversation. Anyway, one of the newer players to the group – when sharing the story of his food for the day – let everyone know that after school he had eaten a banana and some ‘YOG-urt’…using the English pronunciation much to the merriment of everyone there.
Now – why do people from the UK say ‘YOG-urt’ whilst everyone else in the world says ‘YO-gurt’ – well, I genuinely have no idea. Why would this young kid – without the hint of an English accent – say ‘YOG-urt’…I have no idea. Why I do know is that when he arrived for beach training on Saturday morning, he was welcomed with a large cheer from the group (“YOG-urt”), everyone laughed and smiled and suddenly he belonged.
SO. Am I saying that whenever someone new comes in you should make fun of the way they pronounce a word and repeatedly make fun of them for it forever after? No. Actually, more than that, please don’t do that. But at the same time if you *could* take 5-secs to say hello, maybe introduce yourself, encourage them to say that the first few sessions will be hard and feel confusing BUT that it will get better…little gestures like that can mean a LOT when you walk in somewhere for the first time. To be honest, even just the welcoming smile that says “It’s gonna be OK” is more than enough on most occasions!
Is “BEING WELCOMING” part of your job as someone who just comes along to train? Of course not – that’s up to the trainers and staff to do that. But I’m pretty sure everyone can remember that situation from their life where they walked in somewhere for the first time and immediately felt ISOLATED. And I’m pretty sure you also remember that one person who went out of their way to make you feel welcome. Getting started on a fitness journey is HARD – there are so many uncertainties – let’s all work together to make sure that ‘having to stand outside the circle’ when you first come to the gym isn’t one of them!
See you in the gym,
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