Care for your members

How to convince members to obey the rules of your gym

How to convince members to obey the rules of your gym
Written by COSMIN Published on 2020-08-13 6 minutes read

The sanitary crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic brought a new series of rules for gyms and fitness centers. Not only gym owners must follow many regulations, but also people who go to the gym.

Of course, not just these new rules apply to a fitness center. Each gym has its own bylaw meant to protect both members, staff, and gym equipment and ensure everyone's comfort.

However, it is difficult to persuade all members to obey the rules, particularly those who don't understand their importance. If you think of giving up, you must also think of the rest of your members who do obey the rules. How frustrating would be for them to see certain people refusing to clean the machines after they use them, who don't keep the social distance, talk on the phone too loud or enter the training area with dirty shoes?

All these aspects are very unpleasant for you and your team and everybody else who has paid for a gym membership to enjoy the best services.

To ensure a comfortable atmosphere for your members, you must insist that everyone that enters your gym follows your bylaws. That doesn't mean you have to argue with difficult members, but there are ways you can convince them to be aware of their behavior, without creating an awkward situation.

Moreover, enforcing such behavior will dictate the way members see your gym which will definitely help your retention rate.

Why should you enforce a bylaw in your gym?

Each business has its own set of rules, particularly those that deal with clients. Therefore, why shouldn't yours have one? These rules ensure a safe and comfortable space for everyone, particularly for new members, who can feel intimidated and quickly give up.

Many members squeeze their training in an already busy schedule, so they have no patience for other people when they visit the gym. That is why they might not always be in the mood to put away the equipment they use, clean the machines, and take into consideration they are not the only people training there. Nonetheless, it's crucial to make them understand that when they enter your gym, they must obey your rules, just like everyone else.

Additionally, most of these rules are meant to avoid accidents and injuries, affecting you and your business. If someone leaves a dumbbell where they shouldn't, and someone else trips and falls, it will be an awful situation for everyone involved, including you.

How to ensure your members obey the rules

Most of the time, members don't follow the rules because they don't know about them. Therefore, the first step you must take is to ensure each member, new and old, is aware of your rules. 

Display the bylaw in several areas in the gym, the locker rooms, and at the front desk. Choose visible places where they can be easily seen and read. When these rules are right under their nose, members cannot say they didn't know.

Make sure these rules are published on your gym's website, in the member app, and on any other communication channel. Send a welcome email to every new member, and include these rules, alongside the services you provide.

Update the bylaw based on unforeseen situations and make sure everyone knows about it. This education process can take some time, but the end result will be surprising.

After each member finds out about your rules, make sure they obey them. That means all your employees will monitor members closely to ensure there are no issues. Trainers and the front desk team must always be present on the gym floor, supervising members, and in the locker rooms. Class instructors must oversee all members in their classes, particularly if there are rules dedicated to this activity (i.e., members must have a booking to attend a class or specific equipment, and so on).

Educate your employees

Rules should be followed from the top. That means your employees should also obey the rules of your gym. Otherwise, it will be challenging to convince members to do so. What is more, your team must know how to communicate with members and persuade them to follow the rules, particularly the troublemakers.

If someone doesn't obey the rules, your employees must remind them about it in a polite and empathetic way. In no way should they raise their voice or reprimand the member who maybe didn't know they must bring changing shoes for the training area. Even if this is gym 101. Most new members will need some time to adjust to going to the gym, and they might forget some details. Your employees must remind them about these rules in a friendly way and help them if possible - if a member doesn't have clean shoes, they can offer them shoe covers.

If you must show a member off for something that might be embarrassing for them, invite them into an office or a private area where you can talk in silence, without making them feel bad.

Surely you have encountered many problematic members that refuse to follow the rules. These situations can be very delicate, and your employees must know exactly how to handle it. In no way they should start arguing with that person. They should use a calm tone of voice, no matter the situation, explain why these rules are in place, and that they protect everyone, including the said person.

Add the rules in the member contract

Everyone that purchases a membership at your gym must sign a member contract. With this document, you pledge to provide the services that a person has bought, but you also reserve the right to suspend their membership if they don't follow the rules.

By adding all these clauses in a contract signed by members and a club representative, everything is a lot more formal, and it will be a lot easier to persuade members to play by your rules, literally.

It is also a way to handle problematic persons that regularly create difficult situations.

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Examples of rules you should be enforcing at your gym

If you don't already have a bylaw at your gym or you think it should be updated, here is a list with the most elementary rules any gym member should know. These do not include the regulations regarding mask-wearing and social distancing dictated by this year's pandemic.

  • Do not enter the gym floor with outside shoes, no matter how clean you think they are
  • Use a towel when training with any machine
  • Clean each machine after you finish using it
  • Don't "hang around" a machine and leave your personal items on it, if you don't use it
  • During peak hours, don't use a machine for more than 10 minutes, particularly if there is a queue for it
  • During your workout, don't leave weights or dumbbells outside the dedicated area, in places where other people might trip
  • Use the locker room to change clothes and don't bring your gym bag in the training area
  • Avoid shouting, cursing, throwing weights around or making loud noises
  • Put back weights and dumbbells in their stand after you are done using them, and any other accessory in their designated place
  • Ask a member of our team how to use a particular machine if you are not sure, to avoid breaking it
  • Children are not allowed on the gym floor to prevent accidents
  • Before you start training, wash your hands and clean off strong body perfumes
  • Don't listen to your own music without headphones
  • Don't leave your trash or personal items in the locker cabinet, after you handed over your key
  • Don't leave personal items outside the locker cabinet
  • Don't bother other members while they are training
A quick catch up...

By enforcing a set of rules in your gym, you can ensure an enjoyable experience for your members and employees. In the end, your purpose is to recruit as many members as possible and foster their loyalty, not alienate them with unpleasant situations.

Certain people will always try to break the rules. That is why it's important to display them everywhere in the gym and make sure all members know about them. If a delicate situation arises, your employees should know how to talk with troublemakers, not to raise their voice, speak on a polite but firm tone, and explain the purpose of these rules. Don't forget to include them in the member contract, so you have a legal tool when you have a serious problem with a member.

If you don't have a set of rules in your gym, you can take inspiration from the list above.


Cosmin has the unique ability to provide not only the best solution for his clients but also to help them make the most of the tools they have. He spends his time in gyms and fitness centers, not only training but also observing and researching every operational aspect of this business.

Fitness Business Romania
Fitness Business Romania

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