gym owner

Gym Owner Debate: Are Romantic Relationships Allowed At Your Gym?

As a gym owner, where do you stand on romantic relationships within your community? Today, we're looking at the varying viewpoints on how to handle it!

Emily Beers
May 24, 2023
Gym Owner Debate: Are Romantic Relationships Allowed At Your Gym?
As a gym owner, where do you stand on romantic relationships within your community? Today, we're looking at the varying viewpoints on how to handle it!

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!

When it comes to love and lust in the gym, there are two very different schools of thought. While some gym owners draw a hard line in the sand, others are more lenient. For every company policy created in one gym, there are others proclaiming that no policy will stop true love.

Each gym owner can decide how to handle relationships in the community
Each gym owner can decide how to handle relationships in the community.

And perhaps it actually can’t be controlled. According to research, meeting at work is still the third-most common place people meet their partners. This is behind only meeting online (number one) and through friends (number two).

So where does this leave the gym owner? Today, we’re looking at both sides of the debate.

Gym Owner Viewpoint 1: No Romance Allowed.

It’s inevitable. Your community is probably filled with some pretty fit, attractive, single people. And some of these folks might be tired of online dating. So what better place to meet another fitness-minded person than the gym?

And while it’s not your place to control what they do outside the gym, it becomes your business when things happen inside it. If members start hooking up with each other, or with coaches, it’s tough to simply ignore.

Further, in the event it doesn’t last or ends poorly, you’re left to deal with the aftermath. From awkwardness to losing a member (or several), the fallout is worth being proactive with your policies.

So what are your options?

1. No-Tolerance Policy.

The most clear-cut option for a gym owner to control romantic relationships is to implement a no-tolerance policy. The rule states that coaches are essentially prohibited from becoming romantically involved with members. It’s the easiest way to avoid potential drama and relationship fallout.

Include this on the coach’s contract. That way, at least in theory, you have the legal authority to remove the coach from your gym if needed.

The same goes for gym relationships between coaches.

Gym owners should be proactive with relationships between coaches
Gym owners should be proactive with relationships between coaches.

Unfortunately, it’s a different situation when it comes to relationships between members. Although your clients are likely signing a contract when they sign up, a no-tolerance policy in a member contract it simply rare in the fitness industry.

Pro Tip: Keep members in the loop about policy changes or gym updates with PushPress Grow! Book a demo with our team today to find out how to save time and run your gym better through the power of automation!

2. No-Drama Clause.

Another, less-strict option is to include a “no drama” clause in your coaching contract. This doesn’t overtly say a coach can’t date a member. However, it does make it clear that there’s zero tolerance for bringing drama into the gym.

Whether relationship baggage or just creating an awkward situation, you’re trying to protect your community. This could potentially make coaches and members think twice about starting a romantic relationship.

One important thing to note: Make sure coaches actually read the code of conduct. Or better yet, go through it verbally with each one. This gives you a chance to explain your gym owner viewpoint, and the concern for your community and business.

3. Financial Repercussion.

If neither of the options above sound like the approach you want to take, consider an idea from one gym owner we recently spoke to.

He implemented a rule that states that coaches are allowed to enter into relationships with a client, with one caveat. If the client ends up quitting as a result, the coach owes the gym $500.

Extreme? Maybe. But it works.

Further, this owner asks the coach to proactively lay the ground rules with the member before anything happens. This way, the member is aware of the policy going into the relationship. Ultimately, the hope is to get mutual agreement ahead of time that unexpected drama won’t affect the gym community.

Viewpoint 2: You Can’t Stop Love.

On the other end of the spectrum are gym owners that argue you’re wasting your time trying to control human relationships.

In short, it’s impossible to police sex and romance. Creating a no-tolerance policy for romantic relationships would strictly be a formality, versus an enforceable option. And in this situation, the only thing a policy will do is force people to hide everything from you as the gym owner.

Further, sometimes it actually ends up in true love and marriage. And is anyone ever opposed to that?

Gym relationships aren't always detrimental to gym growth
Gym relationships aren't always a bad thing as long as the community isn't affected.

So for these gym owners, it’s best to just stay out of it and deal with any issues that come up on a case-by-case basis. The bottom line is, we’re all adults here. So let’s trust that your gym community will act that way.

With that in mind, it doesn’t mean you should ignore the topic entirely. Encourage coaches to have an open dialogue with you if a romantic connection with a client develops. At the very least, this may get your coaches to think twice before acting.

In a best-case scenario, your coach isn’t willing to risk their position at your gym over the potential of relationship drama. Or if they actually think this could be true love, you can be supportive of a long-term relationship that started at your gym.

In Summary: The Gym Owner Controls The Culture.

Romantic relationships within your gym can be tricky. But by being proactive, you can control them from devolving into drama.

Some gym owners believe in drawing a line. They do this through no-tolerance policies, no-drama clauses or even financial repercussion. Others believe that no policy will stop true love.

Regardless of your policy, or lack thereof, it’s worth keeping an open dialogue. Encourage coaches and members to be honest and community-minded. This way, you control the drama and protect your entire gym community.

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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