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Guidelines Needed For Gyms With Quality Services, Ethics And Professionalism

How do you choose what gyms to promote to your employees or members while ensuring quality services?

And, how do you prevent any and every gym or studio in your city or community from promoting their services by offering "discounts" to your employees? These were questions recently put to the members of the Wellness Manager Discussion Group.

The member, a senior employee health promotion program manager, also sought suggestions for guidelines for promoting local gym discounts to employees.

"We try to be selective with gym discounts," replied a wellness program manager. "If we agree to promote a gym, our preference is to require the gym to offer our employees the best discount they offer anyone."

But he added, most gyms "can’t or won’t meet this criterion." The problem is this situation "limits the discounts we can offer to our employees."

The veteran wellness program manager said his concern is that "the fitness industry has gotten so aggressive – sometimes predatory – in its sale practices."

"If we promote a gym discount to employees who perceive it to be a ‘deal,’ only to find that ‘Joe Public’ who walked in off the street got a better deal because the gym was running a proverbial ‘special’ or because Joe Public is a good negotiator, what service have we really provided our employees?" Offering a discount, in a case like this, may serve the gym more than it serves employees, he added.

"Unfortunately," he continued, "offering discounts to many gyms has become comparable to offering discounts to the used car lots one might find advertised on TV in the middle of the night. But that's how many (not all!) gyms have chosen to run their business."

In weighing the benefits of promoting the gym discounts to employees, it is definitely a perk, especially if you are an employer who isn't offering raises and want to find other ways to increase the value of employment, observed another long-time wellness manager.

It does take up administration time, however, to offer discounts. "We do get employees calling us to help them get their discount. This becomes an issue for those vendors who 1) either have turnover, and so the contact name changes without notifying us to update our information; 2) have a ‘difficult’ process for the employee to get their discount; and 3) do not provide quality services while the employee's perception is that we are endorsing the vendor."

If you want to promote only those gyms that provide quality services by demonstrating a certain level of customer service, professionalism, ethics and practices to keep employees safe, here are several suggested guidelines submitted by a member:

  • Is the club a member of the International Racquet, Health and Sportsclubs Association (IRHSA) oranother professional association? By being a member of this organization and/or others, the club ascribes to a code of ethics and professionalism.
  • What is the dues structure? Is it affordable for even the least of our employees? Are theirs long- or short-term contracts? Each gym or trainer must spell out their financial terms exactly. In this manner, there are no monetary "surprises" or "Deal of the Day" when an employee signs up.
  • Does the club or training facility have degreed and/or certified instructors? Certification by the major certifying agencies again shows professionalism and a higher level of instruction.
  • Does the club or training facility follow the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines on facilities? By following these guidelines, participant safety is promoted and safeguarded.

Finally, one member suggested GlobalFit, and a company that manages a gym network, guarantees the discounts and offers other products, like a virtual nutrition and fitness centers and activity programs that don’t require employees to join a gym and can effect change among employees regardless of their stage of readiness.

The Wellness Manager Discussion Group has been online since 2002 and today has more than 1,500 members. The group was organized and is administered and sponsored by the Wellness Program Management Advisor.

Subscribers are entitled to be members of the Wellness Manager Discussion Group at no additional cost. To join go to

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