From Fragile to Hard Core

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frag • ile


not strong or sturdy; delicate and vulnerable

Have you ever done an egg toss? I remember at a team building workshop I had to play catch with a rare egg. I quickly learned there was a right and wrong way to handle the egg.

The right way… you needed soft hands when catching it, deliberate yet careful when tossing it, and you needed to pay attention during the back and forth.

The wrong way… well, let’s just say the outcome was a cracked shell and yolk running down your hands.

If your club lacks a process for each new member coming in you will find yourself “dropping a lot of eggs.” The days of simply signing up a new member are long gone – it is not enough to ensure they’ll be a lasting member.

As a trainer and fitness instructor of 8 years, I wasn’t in the sales pit on a daily basis. Typically, I was on the other side once those new people had been signed up. It became easy for me to spot the newbies in the gym – deer in the headlights facial expressions, timid in demeanor, and longing for change. Simply put, these new people were fragile eggs. I saw many fragile eggs wandering around the gym trying to navigate it on their own. No member should be left to figure it out on their own.

A new member process doesn’t have to be complicated, but if done the right way, it can have a positive impact on both the new member experience and a club’s bottom line.

The close is just the beginning!

During the sales process, yes I said sales – let’s just call a spade, a spade here – I can call it “enrollment” if that makes it more non-threatening. “We” – the fitness industry are “enrolling” aka selling a person on something that is not tangible. They cannot walk out of the gym that day with the body they’ve always wanted. We are selling them on the dream and that it is you that can help them reach their dream.

The scenario typically plays out like this… a few minutes are spent with the potential member, the deal gets closed, they slap down their card, and walk out of the club with a key tag. Often, sales people have forgotten that person’s name before they’ve made it out of the building and are moving onto the next person. Instead, every sales member should schedule appointments purposely allowing extra time after the transaction is complete so they can take their time with each person. Each new member is not just a number; they are delicate human beings, who just by being present are saying they need your help.

So let’s back up for a moment… during the appointment, it is all about the potential member.

  • What is their story?
  • What brought them to the gym that day?
  • Why your gym?
  • What are their goals?
  • How have they failed to reach that goal in the past?
  • How can you best help them match those goals to their daily life?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can match them with a trainer who can help guide them on the path that meets what they really need to succeed vs. what you think they need.

The next stepOnboarding

Unfortunately, not every member has the financial ability to hire a trainer. Ideally, a club would budget for three free one-on-one personal training sessions for each new member. Why three? I am a firm believer that if money were no object, each and every person should train one-on-one with a trainer, in a group (group fitness or small group), and work out on their own.

During these three sessions the trainer can: (1) Showcase their valuable expertise that is worth the financial investment should the member be able to afford it, (2) How to exercise independently while providing the confidence on how to the member can properly use equipment, and (3) Participate with the new member in a group setting so they aren’t going in alone. At the end of these three sessions the member will be acquainted with the facility so they can take advantage of everything it has to offer, have met others in a group setting so they are more comfortable for future classes, and are equipped to start their journey.

The third step – Tracking

If I am trying to get from Knoxville, Tennessee, and I want to reach Las Angeles, California, I am going to need a GPS. Along the way, the journey is going to be long and seem that it is taking forever. There will be wrong turns, detours along the way, and traffic. Through it all, my trusty GPS will continue to tell me: where I’m going, how to get there, and how to recalculate if the trip doesn’t go as planned.

Now use this analogy when thinking about your new member tracking their progress.

  • How does a member know that all their hard work is paying off if there is no way of measuring it or if they need to change up their routine?

During their time with the trainer they should have calculated calories-in vs. calories-out and the amount of activity and length of time (sometimes months to years) needed to achieve their goals. If they stick to the plan and do the work they have their trusty GPS that tells them how to get there even if things don’t go as planned.

Hard Boil Fit PIc

A long trip can be really boring when traveling alone. On the flip side, think of the most fun road trips you’ve taken. I know mine have included friends, great food, and awesome music. Your group fitness and group training provide the friends, the music, and positive influence when it comes to food. Scheduling each week with these group classes is another way a new member can track their progress and stay accountable to themselves and to the friends they make along the way.



hard core


the permanent, dedicated

The final step – Hardboiled

If you implement a similar new member process over the course of those critical first six weeks, the sweat, soreness, and hard work will transform that fragile egg into a hard core member. This new member will see results, recognize how valuable you and your team are to their health, and will be bringing in friends just like them to be transformed. I know it sounds cheesy, but it is true! The best part of being an instructor and trainer is witnessing the metamorphosis of new people becoming the version of themselves they’ve always wanted to be.

Creating a new member process helps your members get results, helps you to retain them while getting their personal referrals, and most importantly it is very rewarding for you and your staff to help them along the way. If you want to transform those fragile eggs into hard core members:

  • You must be gentle with the new person and take the time to get to know them, their story, and their goals.
  • You must have a plan that matches their goals.
  • You and your staff must pay attention to this fragile egg. If you don’t, it won’t be a yolk running out of a cracked shell; it’ll be a member running out of your door, never to return.

Now, go hard boil some eggs.

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About Erin Gray

Erin Gray is Co-Owner and Manager of 865 Fitness. She is a CrossFit L-1 trainer, CrossFit Kids coach, and yoga instructor. She is certified in all nine MOSSA group fitness programs. When she isn't leading CrossFit classes you’ll find her running, or blogging.