Mystery shopping at the gym

Health clubs and fitness centers have plenty of aspects that would benefit from mystery shopping.

Health clubs and fitness centers have plenty of aspects that would benefit from mystery shopping. As establishments that rely on memberships through customer service and strong word-of-mouth campaigns, it is vital that gyms treat prospective members well. With so much competition in that market, those companies can't afford bad reviews. Knowing their own strengths and weaknesses is imperative, a reason so many sign up to be reviewed by mystery shopping services.  

But what can be done to help these companies? Here are some things to look for in the gym as a mystery shopper:

  • It starts when arriving to the health club. What does the place look like, both on the outside and inside? A clean and welcoming appearance is inviting and encourages guests to enter. Mystery shoppers should be greeted just like they are regular members to the gym, so take note on how employees interact with you before your workout starts.
  • According to the U.S. Labor Department, more than 230,000 Americans work as fitness trainers and instructors. One thing that can differentiate a health club from its competition is the intelligence of its instructor? staff. A secret shopper should interact with a personal trainer, asking specific questions to really evaluate their depth of knowledge. If the employee cannot give satisfactory answers, it may be an indication the gym as a whole is just a place where people break a sweat, but there is no training taking place. For many customers, it isn't worth joining a gym where the training staff is unsatisfactory, and a secret shopper has ways to determine that.
  • It goes without saying that health and cleanliness are of vital importance at fitness centers. A secret shopper should look into the cleanliness of workout machines and equipment to ensure that germs from the last people to use them have been cleaned off before other customers begin their training. Clean towels, water fountains and showers also are necessities in a gym, making them items mystery shoppers should investigate while on their visit.
  • Besides the workout equipment, what else does this gym have to offer? Are there basketball and racquetball courts, or a swimming pool? Does the club offer classes and workshops? In the locker room, is there a sauna and hot tub? These special amenities can be difference makers for customers, so a secret shopper will want to examine which are present and how they operate. If there are extra fees involved with using some of them, that can be a major difference maker to a business.
  • Before leaving, talk to someone in the sales department about memberships to the gym. See not only the cost of joining, but if there are special benefits included. Using a secret shopper is the perfect way for businesses to investigate how well a gym's sales staff is doing in recruiting new customers. Note what type of tone they speak to you in and how well they answer questions about membership.

There is a lot that goes in to being a mystery shopper at a gym. Remembering details of your visit while jogging on the treadmill may not be the easiest task, but it can be worth it in the long run to helping a health club understand its strengths and weaknesses as a business. For secret shoppers, the benefit is a greater understanding of how franchises in this competitive field operate - and a free workout!