The number one reason women don’t work out or go to the gym is their fear of being judged. Would a woman feel comfortable joining your gym? Before we can learn how to make women more comfortable in our gyms, we need to understand the landscape she is living in. The fitness industry lures women into the gym with the promise of changing her body. Programming is for body-altering goals, from weight loss challenges to summer bikini bodies.
The purpose of working out has been all about external measures of success:
- How much weight you can lose
- How to tone and sculpt your body
- How to change your BMI
Her fitness is NOT for you. It is to remind her how powerful she is. The measure of success should focus on how strong and balanced movement will make her FEEL.
When a woman decides to join a gym, she comes with a set of experiences and concerns. Understanding her fears will help you prepare your gym to be a more comfortable space.
Here’s what women think when they are starting at a new gym:
- She is finally taking some time to take care of herself instead of others—and she might feel a little guilty about this.
- She worries about how she looks.
- She is afraid she won’t be able to do the moves — or fearful of what she looks like doing them.
- She is nervous because she doesn’t know anyone and feels like an outsider.
- She will look around and compare herself to others.
- She worries she is too out of shape and uncoordinated.
- She is anxious about doing something new.
Having women at your gym does not mean other women will feel comfortable. So, what can you do to make the experience more comfortable for women?
How to create a better experience for women:
- Focus your communications on how good fitness makes you feel and leave her body out of it
Women are overwhelmed by messages of how their bodies should look. There is a perception that fitness is a punishment or something you have to do to change your body shape. Joining a gym has been a terrible cycle: joining, leaving out of guilt or feelings of failure, and then joining again.
Instead of focusing on the body, focus on how exercise will make you FEEL to build a positive and guilt-free connection to fitness.
- Communicate (early and often)
Send her details before she arrives at the gym, including what to expect, what to wear, and what to bring.
Greet her as soon as she walks in the door. Remember, she will be feeling nervous and anxious about what she is walking into, so the sooner you can put her at ease, the better her experience will be.
Give her a quick tour of the space, tell her where to put her things, where to wait, what she should do, and how long before class will start.
- Connect with her
Build a connection with her before class starts. Ask questions and get to know her, and share a little about yourself. Check in about any modifications she may need—this is always best done privately.
- Choose movements that help her feel comfortable
You may have a class planned but be aware of the movements that might make your new members feel uncomfortable. The most important thing is that she feels challenged but overall successful, which builds confidence and guarantees she will want to come back!
- Create a class (or a program) just for women
If possible, create a program or a class that is for women only. The number one reason women don’t go to the gym is for fear of being judged. By offering a women’s class, you can build a supportive community of women who welcome new members with positive vibes.
Hopefully, you decide to practice all of these tips but at the very least, understand the women who are coming to your gym and serve them better by creating a positive and supportive environment where they can focus on feeling strong!