WTF? (Where’s The Females?)

By Tim Bean –

I was interested to read online this evening that Virgin Active (to which our local club belongs) have announced a major re-fit to their Kensington Club – including a wonderful new “Ladies only” training area in the gym.

As long-time health club owners we’re very much aware of how the industry works from behind the scenes.

Sadly, when a club decides it needs to create a special exclusive training area for their female members, it’s usually a sign of weak and ineffective management, and that the club is being run very badly.

You see a successfully run gym floor works around certain rules.  As members you expect everything to be functional, safe, clean, well supervised and respectful of everyone.

So when you get a situation where female members are being driven out, intimidated and forced to retreat to their own exclusive training areas, largely due to the rampant bad behaviour of male members, the solution is NOT to create a new space for them to migrate to.

The PROBLEM is the male members don’t know the rules, and they’re not being enforced.

Typically the club management either don’t know what the rules should be, or haven’t trained their gym floor staff to learn them, or enforce them.

The gym floor staff, in turn, either don’t care, aren’t there, or are afraid to have that conversation with their male members.  And if they did, there’s usually no clear signage to refer to, and/or no back-up or reinforcement from their managers.

If you’re standing on the gym floor, here’s how it looks:

  1. Lots of sweaty men (usually tells you they did their cardio first – the wrong way around – no-one’s teaching them how to train properly)
  2. Head, back and bum sweat on the upholstery (Clearly no-one’s putting towels down on the gear before they use it, or enforcing that rule – if indeed there is one.  Hand-towels don’t cut it – it needs to be a full-sized one.  Seriously – it’s basic hygiene.)
  3. Weights piled up on the floor and left loaded on the gear (No-one’s enforcing the “Put your damn weights back” rule.  And, by-the-way, a sign that says “Our weights haven’t grown their own wings yet to fly back to the racks by themselves” is quite frankly just weak and pathetic – Virgin Active take note)
  4. Guys dropping their weights on the floor (Poor signage, no enforcement from staff, poor member coaching on correct entry and exit technique for exercises.  Easily fixed with a policy that says, “Drop your weights like that again, son, and you’re out”)
  5. Personal Trainers with clients doing all of the above (no really – we see it every day)
  6. No gym staff anywhere to be seen (Poor staff training, staff unaware of gym floor protocols, under-staffing, Staff too afraid to speak to their members and enforce the rules, or maybe just too busy playing around on their iphones).  Clubs take note – “Inadequate Supervision” is a charge that will have injury lawyers pre-ordering cases of caviar and Krug…at your expense.

We believe that women have just as much business and right to train in the free-weights area as men and, indeed, possibly more.  Women typically have less muscle strength than men, and are more susceptible to weak bones and collapsing posture than their male counterparts, so therefore have a greater requirement than anyone for access to the weights and machines in order to stay strong, vital and well.

Lifting weights is also THE key element for successful fat-loss – and everyone wants a piece of that, right?

There’s an old, but true, saying that goes, “You end up with what you tolerate”, and it’s especially true on the gym floor.  The weights room can function perfectly nicely for everyone, if everyone (including staff) knows the rules and follows them.

It’s about respect.  Respect for the club.  Respect for the members. Respect for the equipment.  Respect for each other.

This isn’t tricky.

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