gym owner

Gym Owner Debate: The Pros And Cons Of Kids And Dogs In The Gym

As a gym owner, where do you stand on having dogs and kids in your facility? Today, we're talking about the pros and cons from both sides!

Emily Beers
May 1, 2023
Gym Owner Debate: The Pros And Cons Of Kids And Dogs In The Gym
As a gym owner, where do you stand on having dogs and kids in your facility? Today, we're talking about the pros and cons from both sides!

This month on the PushPress blog, it’s the great gym owner debate! We’re having some fun discussing topics where fitness business owners traditionally vary in viewpoints. We invite you to check out each days’ topic, then join the conversation in the PushPress Facebook community!

There’s an old marketing tactic that says if you want to sell something, feature kids and dogs. And while some gym owners might wholeheartedly agree, for others, it’s a hard no. And so the debate begins...

For your fitness business, are dogs allowed? How about kids?

Gym owner debate - dogs and kids in gym
Are you on #TeamDogs, #TeamKids or #TeamAdultsOnly?

Any seasoned gym owner will tell you that creating policies around canines and kiddos is crucial from day one. That way, when Bob asks about bringing his “very well behaved” Golden Doodle, you’ll have an answer. And when Sandy wants to keep her stroller next to her for the workout, you can refer to the policy.

So how do you choose the right policies for your gym? Maybe you don’t like dogs. Or kids for that matter. Then the decision will be an easy one.

But if you’re like most gym owners, it can be tricky to balance being both accommodating and responsible. You’re trying to create policies that please your clients, while protecting your coaches and the business.

Let’s take a look at the gym owner viewpoint on all sides of this debate:

The “Canine Crew” Gym Owner Viewpoint:

From the canine crew perspective, dogs are man’s best friend so they should be welcome almost everywhere. And for many gym owners, furry friends are a huge part of the community. After all, a large percentage of most gym communities are dog owners.

Here are some of the dog-friendly gym owner viewpoints:

Dogs are welcome as long as they are well-behaved and don’t disrupt the class. Some owners believe that they only add to the energy and good vibes of the gym community.

In fact, dog-loving fitness business owners have actually said dogs can act as a client retention tool. One owner we talked to even said his members claim they “come for the dogs.”

Dog hair doesn’t have to be a problem if you keep a vacuum handy. Simply implement a rule that members must vacuum after their dog before they leave. Also, invest in a good, cordless vacuum (e.g. Dyson) for dog-hair removal.

Further, to keep dog hair to a minimum and keep pups out of the way, create a designated dog area. Of course, outdoors is a great option. But if indoors is the only space, simply keep dogs tied up and away from the floor.

The Kiddo Camp” Stance:

From the kiddo camp perspective, babies and kids are always welcome. Oftentimes, this will come from gym owners who are raising young kids themselves. Which lends itself to accommodating other young families with kids.

Family-friendly fitness can increase gym retention
Family-friendly fitness can increase gym retention numbers.

Here are some of the child-friendly gym owner viewpoints:

Allowing children at the gym is often the difference-maker for parents to be able to work out. Meaning, it’s sometimes the only option for parents who want to live a healthy lifestyle. In this sense, allowing kids can be a tool for increasing gym retention.

Further, for most gyms, the ideal clients are families who prioritize their health. It’s incredibly impactful for kids to be positively influenced by fitness from a young age. Some gyms take it a step further by offering kid-specific programming.

To keep children from being disruptive to the class, simply create a place for them. Whether in a play area, lobby or otherwise, provide activities to keep them busy and entertained.

To reduce the chance of something going wrong, ensure parents are well aware of your policies. This includes safety rules, and what their kids can and cannot do at the gym. Have them sign the essential gym documents from the start to help you educate upfront and if needed, enforce later on.

One additional option, if demand grows, is to create an official childcare service. This can act as an upsell to your clients and generate revenue for the gym.

Pro Tip: If you’ve recently changed your policies and need to inform your entire gym, PushPress Grow can help! Book a demo with our team today to find out how you can automate gym-wide communication and save time!

“Adults-Only” Angle:

From the adults-only perspective, dogs and kids simply don’t belong in the gym. Even though they might make for a great marketing tool and some fantastic Instagram posts, the gym should be a dog- and kid-free zone.

Here are some of the adults-only gym owner viewpoints:

Kids and dogs often pose a gym liability risk. A gym owner might not be covered if a child runs into the middle of class and gets injured with a barbell. Or what if a dog temporarily loses control and bites a member? Insurance aside, no one wants to witness either of these scenarios.

Along the same lines, having kids and dogs in the gym can often be disruptive. When members are paying top dollar for your gym, they deserve a fantastic experience. A crying baby or a dog peeing on the gym floor doesn’t always evoke a positive vibe.

Creating policies keeps gym member experience consistent
Creating policies keeps gym member experience consistent.

Then there’s the hair issue. Usually more so with dogs than kids. If you’ve ever done a burpee into a mouthful of dog hair, it’s enough to at least make you consider joining #TeamAdultsOnly.

Ultimately, this is a business. It’s often a sanctuary for people to escape the stress of life with some good, old-fashioned sweat therapy. The gym should be professionally run, which means having policies in place for safety and consistency in member experience. When kids and dogs are running amok, that experience is compromised.

In Summary: The Gym Owner Calls The Shots

There are generally pros and cons to most business decisions. And the old kids-and-dogs debate is no exception. Sometimes, this will largely depend on your unique membership base and business goals. But as the gym owner, you get to create the policies that best align with your core values and culture.

So take the time to consider the perspectives outlined above. Each side will probably mean certain benefits and certain repercussions for your members, coaches and business. Choose the side you’re most comfortable with so that you can feel confident in explaining your specific policies to make your gym yours.

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.

The gymOS Podcast

Helping gym owners build better businesses, one episode at a time.
Listen Now

Ready to scale your fitness business?

Try our hassle-free Gym Management Software loved by thousand of successful Gym Owners.
Get started for $0/month
“PushPress is the reason my gym became profitable.”
—Joe M. Gym Owner

Follow along and build a better gym with us

Get actionable strategies and ideas to help you grow your gym and manage it successfully, in your inbox every week!

No Spam. Ever. Unsubscribe anytime.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.