Membership is up and that brings it's own circumstances. This isn't a new situation, but every time it happens is unique. Right now we are feeling the push on 4 fronts. There is feeling of a shortage on space, shortage on equipment, shortage on trainers and a new generation of kids growing up in the gym. There are possible solutions to all of these issues and I want to give each one the time to be addressed in a separate post over the next several days. This way I'm not taking up your time by combining them all in a 2 hour read.
For many of you, when you read that first paragraph, something popped in your head. Something important to you. When you consider this point, I want you to come up with possible solutions that are viable. Below are my thoughts, but I want to hear yours as well. The idea that comes to your mind is the thing that I want you to use to start a conversation with myself, or any of the trainers, and as a collective unit we will work on the solutions.
I am choosing these topics in random, because they are all equally important (but also why they won't follow the list above.) I love having kids in the gym. This is a long term perspective. With people in general being plugged into technology, we have chronic conditions rising that simply can be fixed by being more active and eating less crap. If this starts when kids are young and they see it in the adults around them, maybe we can set them up for success. Just because your job isn't active doesn't mean you shouldn't be. In reverse you can use your workout to help combat the repetitive motion injuries that can occur with physical labor. I know that I am preaching to the choir, but this is my reason for having kids in the gym. This is also my reason for not mandating that kids be restricted to the bleachers, but sometimes that might be the only solution available.
That being said, this is a recent situation for us, but not a new one. From day one we had kids in the gym. Lizzy, Norah, Cecilia, Sam, Sullivan and Gwen are all fast friends from having grown up in the gym at a very young age. Now I love watching this generation come through and all the things that come with it. Last year was filled with workouts named after new children and we are just starting a new cycle that will continue until as long as we are open for business.
On that note we are at a pretty full membership, and some education is going to be required. Kids growing up in a gym is the same as visiting a parent in a dangerous work environment or growing up around livestock and pets. Until we teach them or they learn through accidental injury a child has no experience to know not to walk under a barbell or behind a horse, just as they don't know that they can't rough house with a strange dog or stare at a welder's arc.
I don't expect any member to have to stop their workout for a child passing through, but on the same note kids are innocent and it is going to take each of us to inform them of gym etiquette. A parent in the middle of a workout cannot parent and not all of us are working out at the same time. We can all help police problems as they occur.
My Grandfather had a quote that I always loved.
"A boy does a boys work,
two boys do half a boys work,
and three boys do no work at all."
I think that this relates to children and their ability to pay attention. One child, all by themselves tends to pay attention pretty well. Two kids tend to pay attention and remember less. Finally three, or more, kids will have to be repeatedly reminded. This is the human nature of the pack animals we are. All the kids that I have talked to directly have been really polite and responsive. If we let them know ahead of time that we are going to be using the pull up bars, or where we are going to working out, they respond well. However, as the number of kids increases it will be on all of us to remind them when they are being distracting or unsafe.
Let any of us trainers know before hand if you think that there is going to be an unsafe condition during your workout and we will do our best to address it before it happens. We cannot be everywhere at once nor be aware of all things as they happen. No one at present is being paid to be a baby sitter, so the responsibility falls on the parents to have well behaved children for the child's own safety.
On that note I am also considering any or all of the following solutions: hosting a kids class that corresponds with the adult class, having a dedicated child area as we have done in the past and/or bartering membership/paying for child supervision hours. This can be for either members directly or responsible older siblings. That being said most parts of the day there are no kids in the gym and if parents would like to take advantage of these solutions, for scheduling purposes, I would need to know ahead of time when they would be bringing kids into the gym.
These are my thoughts please post yours in the comments below. Tomorrow I will discuss solutions to overcrowding at peak hours.
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