It Just Takes One Bad Apple and One Problem Member…

apples-in-the-background-with-a-single-apple-that-was-covered-in-drops-725x482You’ve probably heard the expression, “It only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch.” The same can be said of problem members in your club.

Whether it’s one member who makes others feel uncomfortable due to a lack of personal hygiene or inappropriate sexual behavior, whether there is a member who starts a personal training business in your gym stealing your clients from on-staff trainers or whether a member is overdoing their workouts to an unhealthy state, you must become aware of the problem and do something about it as soon as possible.

How To Legally Get Rid of the Bad Apple

The first order of business I recommend in dealing with and legally getting rid of problem members is to modify or develop a written set of CLUB POLICIES AND GUIDELINES.  It is important to establish a written set of rules that outline proper conduct in your club.  The policy and guidelines should address everything from racking your weights to proper hygiene.   

The guidelines will not only set out the club rules, they will also act as a guide for your new members who may not be familiar with proper gym etiquette.   In short, it will set the “tone” of your gym.  The Club Policies and Guidelines should be handed out to all new members and guests and a stack should be placed next to the check-in counter.  This will allow your existing members to pick up a copy when they come in to work out.

By having a written set of guidelines, you now have something to refer to if and when a member is getting out of hand.  For example; if your club policy and guidelines states that outside personal trainers conducting business on the premises is prohibited then you can point this out to the suspected independent trainer, and make it clear to him that this is club policy.

Warning, Three Strikes, You’re Out

It is always a good idea to give a warning to a problem member before you decide to toss them out.   Depending on the severity of the offense, a friendly verbal warning should be followed by a warning either in writing or in the presence of another manager/owner as witness.  If the problem still persists, then it’s three strikes – you’re out.   

No Warning Required

Any blatant violation such as sexual harassment should be dealt with immediately.   Of course, some offenses such as fighting, drug usage, and sexual contact need no further warning or second chance.  Ask them to leave or call the police.  Avoid physical contact at all costs.  Unless you are protecting an employee or member from physical harm, you can be charged with assault if physically attempting to toss them out of your club.  Get your biggest trainers to simply “escort” them from your facility.

Keep your club environment healthy and your members happy. Every now and then you’ll have a bad apple pop up in your gym and you’re likely to be made aware of their presence by other members first. There’s nothing like an unpleasant situation to make members drop out. You must deal with these bad apples swiftly and legally.