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The January effect

It’s 7.00 pm and the car park is full.

Maybe, I tell myself, it’s because there’s a conference at the hotel next to the gym.

I have no option but to drive around until I find a space in a remote corner of the car park.

It’s really windy, rainy and cold. Suddenly I realise that I’m starting to get grumpy.

I had to battle with huge resistance to come to the gym, and somehow I was expecting that the universe would reward me with a parking space close to the main door.

When I get into the gym it doesn’t look any better. It’s packed. Treadmills are at full power. At the stationary bikes section there’s only one place left, and all the rowing machines are busy.

I look around and start counting: 18 women and 25 men. Out the corner of my eye I see a free space on a treadmill. I jump onto it and put in my earplugs to listen to a podcast. No such luck: the gym is so busy and noisy that even at top volume I can’t hear a word.

Instead, I start looking around. Everybody is working really hard. From what I can tell, nobody’s here just to tick a box: they’re training as if they’re going for the Olympics.

I have the crazy idea of approaching them one by one to ask how long they’ve been coming and what their new year’s resolutions regarding sport and healthy living are.

I know from previous years that by March, in the evenings the gym will occupied by a maximum of 12 people.

What’s going to happen to all this energy, commitment and enthusiasm? Will it disappear?

Seth Godin says that marketing is about change. Getting people through the door is half the job: the other part is helping them to stay and care.

In the end it all comes down to one question: you’re either in the business of selling gym memberships, or the business of helping people to exercise more. Two different businesses, two different stories. 



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