Club Insider

Environmental Psychology

The Powerful New Competitive Advantage for Clubs

  • For this article, Log In to:
  • View eVersion View eVersion | Download PDF Download PDF

Bruce CarterBruce Carter

Take off your shoes. Now, imagine putting on the shoes of someone who is inactive, out of shape and overweight. You are not at all pleased with how you look, constantly thinking you have to do something, especially every time you eat something you should not have.

So, the thought of joining a health club every so often runs through your mind, but what holds you back? What is it about clubs that makes it so distasteful to the vast majority of people? It surely cannot be a lack of need because approximately 65% of the population is inactive and overweight.

The answer is in the basic, yet widely accepted pain and pleasure principle. People do that which brings pleasure and avoid that which is painful. So, what is the pain (or discomfort) associated with exercise? There are two main parts to it. The first is physical pain, which is sorely amplified when an inactive person tries to get active again. The other can be just as bothersome (with just a strong desire to avoid), and that is the emotional discomfort; embarrassment, awkwardness, guilt, disdain for those who are fit and the unhappiness of parting with money, especially if the person feels they are "wasting" it on a membership they are not getting results with or not using.

So what can clubs do? Fortunately, the desire to look and feel good is very strong. Quite simply, clubs sell that which the majority people hate to do. Even when people say they like to exercise, deep down they don't like it, and don't do it.

If a club is selling an undesirable product/service (as clearly evidenced by only a 14% market penetration rate), then there has got to be some missing link that can get people past their dislike of the product and achieve what they truly want, a better life through fitness. The fitness industry needs to fully grasp and utilize what other industries have learned. The environment that people shop or participate in has a lot to do with how they behave in that environment, and for clubs, "behave in that environment" means people joining and staying as members.

To view the full article, please Log In.

If you are not a Paid Subscriber, we welcome you to Subscribe Now.

Back to Edition