Twelve years ago a book was published about the fundamental psychological differences between the genders. The famous metaphorical title stated that men and women were from different planets with their own distinct society and customs.
But what I want to know is…did they have their own unique fitness studios?
Because it’s easy to see that there can be some distinct differences between men and women when it comes to working out. So as fitness instructors and studio owners, what can we do to create a great workout environment for both sexes at our studios? The way we teach, market, and design our studio should ideally be done in a way that makes both men and women feel welcome and comfortable at our studios.
Here are some things to consider.
- Language. Stick to gender-neutral language when referencing body parts and cuing movement (i.e. avoid phrases like “lift your booty,” “keep your bra strap connected to the mat”).
- Touch. Be mindful of how much and where you touch when giving hands-on corrections as men and women can have different comfort levels. Consider how sweat and clothing play a role.
- Motivation. Men and women can be motivated by different things and in different ways. Try taking a varied approach in how you present and promote the benefits of your exercises. And talk to your male and female clients to understand if and how they want to set goals and measure their progress from your workouts.
- Exercise Selection. Men and women can have different strengths, weaknesses, and musculoskeletal attributes that will cause them to have different experiences or challenges with different exercises. Try to teach a repertoire where each sex has a chance to do some exercises that are in their comfort zone or wheelhouse to balance out the exercises that are more challenging or uncomfortable for them.
- Visuals. Represent both men and women in your studio photos and videos. Feature real studio clients or people that accurately represent them in age, appearance, and ability. And show clients practicing exercises that are appealing to both men and women.
- Names & Descriptions. When naming and describing your services, use language and benefits that welcome and appeal to both sexes unless targeting otherwise. Even if you aren’t specifically trying to attract both sexes with a given class or program, positioning your services in a way that only appeal to men or women can contribute to an overall appearance that your studio is only suited for one or the other. NOTE: If your overall program of exercise has a reputation for being only/mainly for men or women, you may want to explore offering one or more services without your program name in the description to help circumvent gender-related misconceptions. (i.e. if men in your town often feel like Pilates is a program for women, offer a service titled “Private Session: Stretching & Core” vs. Private Pilates Session.
- Choose a neutral studio design that is appealing to both sexes. Be mindful of colors, scents, décor, etc. Keep both men and women represented in any studio posters or anatomy charts.
Being mindful for all these things will help make sure your studio is welcoming to men and women alike, and both sexes are able to equally enjoy all that you have to offer!