gym community

Fight (Party) Gone Bad: Lessons Learned About Gym Community Events

Gym community events are a great way to connect members and have some fun... until they go sideways. Check out Rudy's story and the lessons he's sharing!

Emily Beers
March 9, 2023
Fight (Party) Gone Bad: Lessons Learned About Gym Community Events
Gym community events are a great way to connect members and have some fun... until they go sideways. Check out Rudy's story and the lessons he's sharing!

It’s March Madness at PushPress! We’ve asked our community of fitness business owners to share their craziest stories. With every story comes a lesson that the gym owner learned the hard way so that you don’t have to. Today, we’re talking about gym community events, so sit back, relax and enjoy the shenanigans!

If there’s one thing gym owners love to brag about it’s their community. We know that it’s one of the unique things that sets us apart from so many of the other fitness options out there.

Therefore, we put a lot of time and effort into planning the perfect events for our members. These social functions bring the gym community together and solidify friendships. Ultimately, it helps to build brand loyalty and increase member retention as well.

FitStop CrossFit gym community

And with those goals in mind, it’s easy to dive into planning head-first. We go all out and strive to create the most memorable party of the decade. But if you’re not careful, things can go sideways.

Rudy Trevino, owner of FitStop CrossFit in San Antonio, TX, learned that the hard way.

The Story.

Trevino opened his gym in 2015. When it came time to celebrate their first gym anniversary, he wanted to make the night memorable.

His gym community was young and Trevino thought a boat party would be a fun event. So he rented a party bus, complete with two kegs. The bus would drive the crew two long hours to the boat launch.

“Several people were wasted and throwing up by the time we left the dock,” said Trevino. He added that some members also decided to bring edibles and other substances.

Years later, he still recalls that “it was rowdy, to say the least.” And that was just the start of the drama.

As the night went on, two members of the gym - a husband and wife - started arguing. This led to a domestic dispute that Trevino describes as “angry drunk fighting” and the husband “shooting daggers at his wife.”

This tension quickly spilled over. The husband started trying to fight some of the other male members of the gym community. Luckily, CrossFitters are strong. A few of the guys were able to keep him at bay.

“Somehow, punches were never thrown but there was a lot of wrestling,” recalls Trevino.

When the boat finally docked, they called the police. The angry husband took off on foot. He was obviously drunk and no one knew where he went.

In the end, Trevino ended up having to ask the couple to not return to the gym. They stayed together and although the wife wanted to keep her membership, they couldn’t risk having the husband come around.

Rudy Trevino owner of FitStop CrossFit

The Aftermath.

Eight years later, people at the gym still rumble about the party boat event.

“One and done,” said Trevino of the idea.

And while he knows he can’t control other people’s actions, he says it’s important to take responsibility for his part. As he analyzed what he could’ve done differently, he realized he needs to be more careful about what is served at gym community events.

“The beer wasn’t really the issue,” he said. “It was the liquor.”

So today, Trevino has one simple rule: No hard booze allowed. And since then, no other members have been fired for drunken misconduct.

Three Tips For A Successful Gym Community Event:

1. Create A Code of Conduct.

In order to avoid hosting a “one and done” event, it’s important to let your members know about your expectations for their behavior. Consider sending out a quick email or text before the event. Or post the party rules at your facility leading up to it.

Pro Tip: Use PushPress Grow to quickly and easily communicate with your entire community! Book a demo with our team today to find out more.

If this makes you feel like a stick in the mud, or members accuse of you of being the “no fun police,” add some humor. You could even share Rudy’s story as a precursor to the event. Essentially, it’s important to let people know exactly why you’ve created an event code of conduct: So that you can continue to host fun, safe, community-building events for years to come.

Set expectations for hosting gym events

2. Set A Clear End Time.

As the saying goes, “Nothing good happens after midnight.” Especially when alcohol is involved.

It’s better to clearly set the expectation about event duration before it ever begins. If you tell your gym community that the doors open at 6pm and close at midnight, they know what to expect.

And one more thing: Stick to what you set. The more people have partied, the more people will want to party. When they ask you to keep the party going, stick to the parameters you set ahead of time. Not only will you avoid a Rudy situation, things like this will build trust between you and your members.

3. Be A Good Neighbor.

No one needs a noise complaint in the middle of a hoppin’ shindig.

If you expect your party might get loud, give your neighbors a heads up in advance. Simply knock on some doors a few days ahead of the event and let them know about the event. Provide the plans (e.g. cookout) and expected time frame.

Neighbors are much more likely to be accommodating if you’ve been courteous enough to prepare them in advance. And hey, why not invite them to participate? You never know who might be curious about why your gym community is so awesome.

Emily Beers

Emily Beers is a health, fitness and nutrition writer. She has also been coaching fitness at MadLab School of Fitness in Vancouver, B.C. since 2009.

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