By Mark Messing
My guess is that most gym-goers look back on their first gym experience with disdain.
We have memories of clipboard-wielding behemoths with neck-swallowing shoulders and a convincing way of letting you know that you just aren’t healthy enough. This concern for your health is often dropped after the credit slip is signed, and we are left with little knowledge of the workout process and a significant amount taken from our bank accounts. Discouraged, we begrudgingly fall back onto one of the two gym room basics; a treadmill and a bench press.
As with most bad experiences, we should be asking ourselves, “Does it have to be like this?” Last week I found out that it didn’t, and the answer came from a surprisingly simple source: My neighborhood YMCA.
As soon as I entered the door I knew it was going to be different. This gym wasn’t intimidating. This gym seemed to care about my goals. I was given a tour of all of their resources and introduced to an in gym computer program which will keep track of my progress for me.
How glad I was when I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with a muscle infused trainer. But I had been misled. They wanted me to meet with a *GULP* gym consultant.
His name was Tony, and I was determined to ignore him. But when he came over to me, to explain how their progress-tracking computer program worked, he approached with a smile and a handshake. He asked me what my goals were, and explained some exercises I hadn’t thought about. By the end of the session I had a routine made out, and I returned the next day, excited to be at the gym.
So what was the big difference at my neighborhood YMCA? I am quick to give the credit to a shift in my own personal attitudes, but I know that isn’t entirely true. I wasn’t the only person to visit this YMCA and react this way. As Tony was explaining the program 4 people came up to him to tell them how well they were doing with their workouts. All of them were over 50 years old!
The DIFF at YMCA is that they care enough about their clients to make an intimidating process seem easy. They use innovative technologies and stress customer service, and create an approachable environment. It is an establishment that strives to create an unthreatening service in an intimidating market. It’s a philosophy that certainly rings a bell. I wonder if YMCA does business in all 50 states?