How to Create an Inclusive Gym Environment
Current events in America are showing more than ever a need for businesses to create an inclusive environment for their employees and customers. This is true for the gym environment just as it is for every other part of society. Here are some starting points for working toward the goal of making your gym a more inclusive place for every person who walks through the doors.
Put a Focus on Inclusivity
One of the top ways to be more inclusive is simply to have focus on this goal. Your desire to want to create an inclusive space means you’re on the right track. Keep in mind that there are many types of people and groups that need to feel welcome and safe. Instead of focusing on specific groups, remember to be inclusive of all people regardless of race, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, age, and other factors. Make sure that anyone who enters the gym can feel as though they belong and will be safe and supported.
Encourage Different Ability Levels and Limitations
Gyms can inherently have ability biases in that they may assume everyone coming to the gym can perform certain levels of exercise. But there may be people coming to your gym (or who would like to come to your gym) who have different physical abilities. Create ways to accommodate different abilities, such as providing alternative exercises during classes, offering chair exercise classes, and providing one-on-one sessions that are adapted to the person’s needs and goals.
Hire a Diverse Staff
You should keep inclusivity in mind when your gym makes recruiting and hiring decisions, including for management positions. Your gym should strive to be diverse in terms of both staff and members.
Make Your Marketing More Inclusive
Gym inclusivity isn’t only about the exercise classes or how someone is treated in the gym. It also encompasses the way you represent your gym and the form your gym marketing takes. Do your marketing images and language only include certain people? Perform an audit of your materials with inclusivity in mind, potentially bringing in a third party to take a look if needed. See how you can change your materials to represent more people.
Train Your Staff and Leadership
Inclusivity training is essential for your gym’s leadership and staff. Leadership needs to understand how to create an inclusive environment for staff and for gym members, and how to be role models for proper behavior. Leadership needs to set the precedent that the staff will follow. Then, the staff needs to receive training on how to treat each other and members. Training can be essential for identifying problems and areas for improvement that were not noticed, not understood, neglected, or taken for granted. If your gym does not employ someone in a leadership position who is equipped to carry out this type of training, consider bringing in a third party.
Ask for Feedback
To make sure everyone’s voice is heard, ask for their feedback. Provide different ways of providing feedback, including anonymous options. Encourage feedback from both staff and gym members. Creating an environment where people are encouraged to share their feedback and where your gym actually acknowledges their concerns and makes changes when necessary will help people feel valued and included. It will also help your gym identify problems and see ways to be more inclusive that you may not have noticed otherwise.
Hopefully, these tips will help your gym improve your inclusivity practices. Please feel welcome to share with us ways your own gym has improved inclusivity.