By Chris Martin.
When it comes to online reputations, you’ve heard of lawyer reputation management, doctor reputation management, and restaurant reputation management. But perhaps you haven’t considered that this concept also applies to the other places where you may spend time – like the gym.
No two gyms are alike, even those owned by the same chain and/or have the exact same equipment and amenities. There are plenty of other factors that make each gym unique, and these aspects often contribute to whether you will enjoy working out there. But other than spending money for a membership, how can you determine if a specific gym is right for you?
A good way to start is to check out a gym’s online reputation by reading Internet reviews, blog postings, and news articles. Here are several issues that may be clarified once you begin your Web search.
- Payment disputes. Arguably the most important issue surrounding the character of a gym or health club is how it handles your money. If you read about how someone was stiffed on membership fee refunds or was assessed late fees for being a day (or even a few hours) late with dues, do you really want to do business with this establishment?
- Crowds and rush hours. Almost every gym has periods where there are greater numbers of people working out. If you do a little research, you can figure out when the gym will be the least crowded – and then structure your workout schedule accordingly. After all, no one likes waiting for a treadmill or a weightlifting machine.
- Hygiene. Gyms are supposed to keep their facilities as clean as possible, although they can’t maintain sweat-free grips, weights, and treadmills 100% of the time. However, if you read an online story about how someone may have caught a serious illness in a bathroom, shower area, sauna, hot tub, or pool, you may want to think twice about risking your health.
- Nighttime safety. If you’re unfamiliar with the neighborhood or area around a gym, you have no way of knowing whether it is safe to walk around there at night. This is especially true if the gym’s parking lot is not well-lit. Perusing the Web for stories about crimes taking place at or around the gym might save you from becoming a victim.
- Shady individuals. When it comes to guests and employees at a gym, it’s often difficult to tell a book by its cover. Especially when it comes to perverts. A check of the gym’s online reputation may reveal comments from other guests who allude to the presence of a person (who either frequents or works at the gym) who makes others feel uncomfortable.
- A gym’s “true” identity. There are gyms where people go to work out and get fit. And then there are those which merely serve as gathering places for people who want to flex in front of a mirror or hook up with the opposite sex. How do you find out if a particular gym is a meat market or Poseur Central? Check out online reviews – they’ll give you the cold, hard truth.
- Responsiveness. Last but not least, you may be curious as to how a gym handles complaints about the abovementioned issues as well as many others. If management truly tries to address a problem and apologize to those who are wronged, it might be worthy of your business. But if the gym responds to complaints with a smug, dismissive, or hostile attitude, you may want to work out elsewhere.
So before you begin toning your legs or strengthening your abs, give your mouse-click fingers a workout by examining a gym’s online reputation. It may save you some heartache down the road.