Use Cleanliness to Boost Your Box’s Membership Strategy


With the recent proliferation of Box gyms, attracting new members and keeping current members should be one of your most important goals. So, ask yourself: What drives your Box’s current membership strategy? Are you the biggest Box in town? The newest? Do you have the latest and greatest training equipment? Are you known for your variety of training programs? Price? Convenience? Are you known as the Box with the most expertly trained and motivating staff?

So many points to consider. And then there’s cleanliness.

Yes, cleanliness. It’s something more and more people expect from the Boxes they join, no matter what kind of hard-charging programming is available. Yet, too many Box owners and managers overlook cleanliness as a membership recruitment and retention strategy.

To be more specific, that’s cleanliness of the shared equipment and shared equipment surfaces members touch as they charge through their workouts. One member’s sweaty “calling card” can be the next member’s virus or infection. Shared equipment surfaces — handles of weights and kettlebells, mats, medicine balls, sand bags, etc. — should be sanitized after each use to minimize the chance for the spread of gym germs.

The good news is their oversight offers big opportunities to Boxes that adopt cleanliness as a key part of their membership strategy. Use cleanliness as a marketing and membership sales tool, and as a primary strategy to create and maintain a good reputation and retain members.Why? Four reasons:

  1. It’s different. In today’s hugely competitive Box industry — they’re popping-up everywhere — most gyms are likely to offer top-notch equipment, training programs and highly-motivated trainers. Those that don’t will suffer. Certainly, you need to promote the things that make your Box special. But, while other Boxes use similar features and benefits to define who they are, take ownership of cleanliness — it will set you apart.
  2. It’s appealing. People spend time in Boxes to get stronger and healthier, not to come in contact with germs, airborne illnesses and viruses that can live and breed on the surfaces of dirty, shared-use equipment. A facility that promotes clean practices — and uses the right kinds of products to make it easy for members to clean equipment immediately before and/or after using it — is an appealing place to be. It’s a place where members want to work out.
  3. It’s “green and sustainable”… but better. Environmental awareness is no longer just a movement. Today, it’s expected that businesses — Boxes included — embrace sustainable equipment cleaning and sanitizing practices. Yet while “green” claims may abound in the fitness industry, just raising your hand and saying “Me, too!” won’t make you different. You have to prove it every day. One very effective and visible green strategy is to deploy environmentally and economically sound equipment cleaning and sanitizing products throughout your facility. Providing convenient access to equipment cleaning and sanitizing supplies should be a “must” in your Box. Offering non-waste producing equipment cleaning products —reusables, not disposables — is the best and most environmentally friendly way to go. Consider deploying spray bottles, containing a high-quality sanitizing solution and reusable towels throughout your facility, amidst your equipment areas rather than randomly scattered canisters of disposable pre-moistened wipes. You’ll save money, your members will enjoy a healthier environment, and you’ll have a genuine, defendable green strategy to promote to current and prospective members.
  4. Spread fitness, not germs. Gym, and specifically gym equipment, cleanliness has taken center stage in the media on numerus occasions over the past several years as the source for the spread of germs and viruses to users/members. Unclean, body-contacted surfaces of gym equipment — sweat soaked or not — have been linked to the spread of 1) staph and MRSA infections, 2) seasonal flu viruses, 3) E. Coli bacteria and several more. Exercisers have become more aware of germ and virus transmission risks in the gym, and they’ve grown very concerned. However, it is still not uncommon at fitness facilities around the country, including Boxes, to see body contacted surfaces “ignored” because equipment cleaning and sanitizing supplies are often not conveniently located near actively used equipment, or they are not present at all. The rapid pace of workouts is no excuse for not sanitizing equipment. Handles of weights, kettlebells, rowing machines, treadmills, bicycles, weighted sleds, etc., as well as mats, pads and sandbags should be sanitized on a regular basis. Convenient cleaning only takes a few seconds — well worth the time investment compared to the “down time” associated with a gym acquired illness or infection. That’s not good business. And if it leads to talk about dirty equipment, then you’re in real trouble.

Industries change over time, and the fitness industry is no exception. People will always choose gyms based on many factors. But, experts agree cleanliness has quickly risen to the top of the list. Boxes that continue to ignore cleanliness will put their members at increased risk for illness, and leave their own reputations vulnerable. Either way, it’s not worth it – especially when there are effective, inexpensive and environmentally-friendly solutions as close as a simple phone call or mouse click away.


Bruce A. Sherman, Ph.D. is the inventor of the GymValet — holder for equipment sanitizing spray bottles and towels — and is the President of GymValet/B & D Specialty Concepts, Inc., in Shaker Heights, Ohio. You can contact Dr. Sherman by phone at 216.378.4298 or by email at Visit the GymValet website at, and the GymValet by Dr. Bruce Sherman Facebook Page at