gym owner

Gym Owner Debate: Call Out The Rep Shaving Or Let It Slide?

As a gym owner, where do you stand on members shaving reps? Today, we're looking at varying viewpoints on confronting the situation versus letting it go.

Emily Beers
May 23, 2023
Gym Owner Debate: Call Out The Rep Shaving Or Let It Slide?
As a gym owner, where do you stand on members shaving reps? Today, we're looking at varying viewpoints on confronting the situation versus letting it go.

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!

It starts out as a raised eyebrow. How in the world did that person finish those reps so fast? We might just have a Games athlete on our hands. It gets a little more noticeable when they’re consistently beating the best athletes in your gym.

Pretty soon, curious coaches start keeping an eye on them, and counting reps. And that’s when it goes from “Wow, they’re fast” to “They’re not actually completing the workout.”

Protecting the integrity of the gym by addressing rep shaving
Protect the integrity of the gym by addressing rep shaving.

If you’ve owned a gym long enough, you’ve encountered a rep-shaver or two. And that’s where the great debate begins: As a gym owner, what do you do about it?

On one hand, there are owners who say rep-shavers are only cheating themselves. Conversely, others make a point of confronting them. Whether with an asterisk next to their score or counting their reps aloud, it’s strictly on principle.

Today, we’re looking at the arguments from both sides: Those that confront it head-on and those that say, “Just let it go.”

Gym Owner Viewpoint 1: Confrontation.

For gym owners who believe in addressing the rep-shaving situation, there are two key reasons why you shouldn’t just let it go:

1. Integrity Is Everything.

As a coach, you’re not just there to teach people how to move well and work hard. You’re there to hold people accountable to their fitness goals. And part of this accountability comes down to holding a standard.

In other words, whether intentional or unintentional, it’s actually not about shaving reps. It’s about accountability and integrity. As you work to provide membership value, missing these core values can impact your gym’s culture.

Living with integrity can be hard. And it’s your job as a coach to guide people to live with integrity. Ultimately, it will help them at the gym and elsewhere in their lives. As the saying goes, “How you do something is how you do everything.”

2. For The Sake Of Others.

Especially for competitive gyms with a heightened emphasis on the leaderboard, rep shaving can be a big deal. The last thing you want is drama, fighting or gossip between members.

The key is for you as the gym owner to create and maintain the integrity of the leaderboard from the start. And this means dealing with rep-shavers as soon as the situation arises.

Addressing members helps with fitness training and gym culture
Addressing rep-shaving members can help with fitness training and gym culture.

Similar to parenting, it starts early. If you give your two-year-old sugary breakfast cereal and chicken nuggets for dinner, you’re setting a precedent. This will make it difficult to switch to healthy eating habits later on.

The same is true of fitness. Your gym community needs to understand the standards from day one. This means providing education about the importance of both quality repetitions and counting in your gym. Not only for the sake of training with integrity, but also for continued progress.

By outlining this information in your onboarding process to help clients create good habits, you’re less likely to have problems down the road. This way, it’s easy to reference the initial conversation if you do have a rep-shaver.

“Remember that conversation we had when you first started...”

Pro Tip: Did you know you can use the power of automations to save yourself time while nurturing new members through onboarding? Book a demo with the PushPress Grow team today to find out more!

Gym Owner Viewpoint 2: Let It Go.

For gym owners who believe in letting rep-shaving slide, there are three reasons why confrontation isn’t the way to go:

1. It’s A Waste Of Time.

It may not be worth your energy to chase down rep-shavers in an attempt to get them to change their ways. Chances are, they know they’re cheating and your conversation is not going to change them. The best thing you can do is to make sure they’re moving safely to prevent the threat of injury. Then simply hope that, at some point, the culture of integrity around them starts to redirect their actions.

2. Who Even Keeps Score Anymore?

For many gym owners, fitness performance data for the whole gym is a thing of the past. Instead, each person scales the workout individually and appropriately for them. In this situation, idea of leading the gym has become somewhat moot. Essentially, there’s more training and less competing happening on a daily basis.

3. Usually, It’s Not Malicious.

To some, it might seem like cheating if a member decides to do a rep scheme of 15-12-9 instead of 21-15-9. But consider this: What if they had a long day and aren’t up for 45 pull-ups today?

Each gym owner may handle rep shaving differently
Each gym owner may handle rep shaving differently to protect the community.

Sometimes, your clients are just happy to be there, moving and doing something. In this case, what some would call rep shaving is actually just scaling appropriately. And and accusation of cheating in this case could lead to a canceled membership.

Gym Owners In The Middle.

As a gym owner, the side you choose on this topic might largely just come down to your community demographic and culture.

Are most of your clients in the 40-plus crew and not particularly competitive? Are they simply happy to show up three days a week and move? For these members, if they’re not squatting to depth on a wall ball, maybe it’s because they can’t. Or perhaps they’re choosing to do four rounds instead of five because they’re intimidated.

Even if your culture is supportive and encouraging, some people just don’t want to be last to avoid the attention. In a gym like this, rep-shaving might not bother anyone.

On the other hand, is your gym filled with 25-year-olds eager to compete against each other? In this situation, rep shaving decreases the integrity of the leaderboard and disrupts the gym culture.

The bottom line is, your decision about whether or not to confront rep shavers may go beyond your personal opinions about the topic. It may be worth factoring in your community, and what they want and need to be successful.

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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