Smartphones are ubiquitous in 2019. While they may seem like a perfect fit for the gym, smartphone usage at the gym is not without its share of potential problems. Read on for a closer look at the issue, along with tips for making sure your fitness business community members are embracing the “smart” in “smartphone.”

The Problem with Smartphones

From playing music to tracking fitness progress, there are many workout-enhancing ways to use smartphones at the gym. However, there are also ways to get into trouble.

One typical cellphone issue shared by fitness business is “gym campers,” who occupy a piece of equipment only to spend their time occupied with their phones. Lexington, Kentucky’s Ron Humes told the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) of these problematic members, “They sit on machines that they’re not actually using, trolling through their social media, oblivious to the fact that people are waiting to use the machines where they’ve set up camp.” 

That’s just the start. Who could forget the case of Playboy model Dani Mathews, who snapped a photo of a naked woman in a health club locker room area and then body-shamed her on social media? She pleaded no contest to an invasion of privacy charge and was ordered to perform 30 days of community service as well as three years of probation. She was also banned from all of the health club’s locations. Said the gym’s vice president of operations of the incident, “Her behavior is appalling and puts every member at risk of losing their privacy. Our written rules are very clear: Cellphone usage and photography are prohibited in the locker rooms. This is not only our rule, but common decency.” 

Smartphone Policies and Procedures

All of this begs the question: Does your fitness business have smartphone policies? If not, you may be setting yourself up for the best case of annoying your members and the worst case of ending up on the receiving end of some serious negative press. 

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as simple as banning smartphones from the gym floor (even though some gyms are going that route). Explains the New York Times of the conundrum, “ Gym owners say their members are dividing into two camps, those who can’t stand cellphones on the gym floor and those who see their phones as indispensable to their workouts as a bottle of water.”

If you’re not ready to join the growing number of gyms that are drawing a firm line when it comes to smartphones and fitness centers, there are some things you can do to make your fitness business a more pleasant, safe, and secure space for your members. 

The HIRSA suggests that all gyms adopt policies for cell phone use among members and trainers, and make sure these policies are clearly communicated across multiple channels of communication, including membership contracts, handbooks, and signage. In addition to recommending that gyms ban the use of camera phones at least in locker rooms to protect member privacy, they also suggest that clubs should prohibit members from taking and making calls while exercising as a matter of both safety and courtesy. 

Mobile phone with the notice "we've updated our policies".

Whatever policies you decide on, be prepared to back them up. One fitness instructor told AM New York, “You can set all the rules you want, but you need on-site supervision to enforce…You see people texting while they’re lifting weights or on the treadmill!”

One last thing to keep in mind? Not all gyms will adopt the same approach to smartphone usage, and that’s okay. Ultimately, members will choose the gym that best suits their needs and preferences. Setting policies that agree with your own viewpoints regarding cellphone usage at the gym increases the chances of growing a like-minded community. 

One thing not up for debate in the fitness world? The value added by fitness monitoring technology when it comes to member retention and recruitment.  Request a demo today to learn what the Accuro System can do for your gym or healthcare center.