Part of my research of gym design, over a period of many years, obviously included noting what was right and wrong about the design of gyms I would visit every year. One of the things I noticed is that many gyms never seemed to change, no matter how many times I visited them.
Constant, Consistent, Visible Improvements
One of the most effective methods of showing your gymnasts and their parents that your gym, and by inference, your program and gymnasts are getting better and better is to make constant and consistent visible improvements to the gym. Parents want their gymnasts to get better. Gymnasts want to learn new skills. Both parents and gymnasts are looking for improvement and change. Gyms can send a strong message that there is constant improvement and change going on by making regular visible changes.
Make Changes Visible
One of my practices of gym management was to make a visible change in the gym every week. They key is visible change. There are hundreds of improvements that gym owners and coaches should be making to the gym program, operation, maintenance and safety. But in this case, we are actively wanting and training both parents and gymnasts to come into the gym each week and look to see what is new. A visual image of improvement and change is a strong advertisement for your program and a reason for your customers to continue to be convinced that they have made a wise choice choosing your gym.
Changes – Large and Small
The changes can be big or small, as long as they are visible. A big change would be a new piece of gymnastics equipment added to the gym. Smaller changes could be as simple as a new mural or poster, a coat of paint on even a single wall. A new piece of preschool equipment, a new sign, new banners hanging from the wall or ceiling all will catch the attention of your customers and give them a feeling of pride to be in a program that is always getting better. Sometimes, I would make a change that was either not visible or barely detectable and I would make a visible sign explaining the new change.
Improvement, Not Just Change
It is possible to have visible change without having to spend additional money (or very little). Rearranging equipment or mats is a noticeable change, although there really ought to be a valid training or safety reason for doing so, not just changing for the sake of change. Any work or money expended really should be made with the result that the gym improves, not just changes.
Weekly Consistent Changes
Now I suppose that a visible change every few weeks or every month would be better than nothing. But with consistent weekly changes to the gym, you are demonstrating your commitment to the constant improvement of your gym and program. And while, at first, you might have to mention “Have you seen we just added a new balance beam?” it won’t be long before gymnasts and parents are coming in the gym and you can see them looking around to see what is new and different. And they will pride themselves on being able to notice.
The Pressure to Produce
Fair warning that beginning, such a program of weekly visible change, puts pressure on you to continue to perform and produce new improvements and changes to your gym and program. It will take commitment on your part to keep it going, week after week and year after year. But your commitment to continuous improvement, both visible and invisible, will be a motivation for you to improve your gym, program and will also result in changes and improvements to your bottom line.