A member leaves a gym and we all know what can happen next: the talk in the community. Many of us have experienced or witnessed hurt feelings, whispers, gossip, maybe even snide remarks and Vaguebooking—and on all sides, not simply by the owner or the member.
But it doesn’t have to be the equivalent of a divorce when someone leaves a gym and goes to a new one. I mean, I get it. Departures can be upsetting, but maybe we make more out of this change than we should.
I’ve been on both sides, so I know how it feels from every angle. I know what it’s like to build a business and invest a whole bunch of time and energy in someone, and then watch them walk out the door to a new gym. And I know what it’s like to be the gym member that has benefitted from that time and energy, but then decided to pick a new gym. I know what it’s like to love a member, and watch them walk away—or to love a gym, but feel you need to walk away anyhow.
But, let’s think about what happened here.
A business had a customer who went to a new business. That’s the essence of the matter. When you decide to go to a new gym, it’s not like a divorce because—guess what?—you were not married. Sure, you might have been friends, but you were friends in a business relationship. There were no vows of fidelity for a lifetime.
Now, you might say, “But it is personal! We are like family. This is a different business.”
A business. That’s the key word right there. A business makes money, or it closes down. Customers go to a business to get a product or service in exchange for money. If money is the foundation of a relationship, then love is not. Plain and simple. Sorry to be a bit harsh, but that’s the truth.
I hear people promulgate this viewpoint of the small gym business as different by saying things like “People will quit a gym, but they won’t quit a relationship.” Guess what? People quit relationships all the time. They break up, they get divorced, they move on, they disappear, in love affairs and friendships. Why? For a variety of reasons, but often human behavior can be tracked down to a simple factor: needs changed. As people change in this life, their needs change. This happens on a personal level and on a fitness level. Hence, a gym that met a member’s needs in the past might not be able to meet those needs now.
Maybe the coaches changed at a gym, or the cleanliness level or the schedule or the programming, or the other members changed or any of a hundred factors. Or maybe the business only changed slightly, but the member or their needs changed. And so a member moved on.
CrossFit is a lot bigger than it ever was and there are more choices in gyms. When there are ten choices for a gym in your town, it’s a lot easier to move to a new one than when there were only two choices.
Businesses have customers, and sometimes customers move on. There’s no child to fight over, just a new squat rack in a different room. Hug and part as friends, because you never know—that same member may end up back in the same gym a year from now.