Conflict in your gym and how to manage it

Creating management processes to quickly resolve any feuds is an important step in your gym management process. Conflict is something that arises in any business. When people are put together in a working situation, opinions are bound to differ and disagreements can break out.


Constructive conflict can be an instrumental part of creating a team that works well together and respects each other. Conflict is a good way for people to spark creativity and can reduce the tendency for stale thought patterns. Embrace conflict but make sure you have good processes and management skills in place for resolving conflicts in a timely and productive manner. Here are a few of steps to consider:

  1. Identify the root of the problem

A fight or dispute is always the symptom of a larger problem. Sit down with both parties to the conflict and try to find the true cause of the problem. This may take a few steps in order to delve deep into the problem. It is important to use “I feel” sentences throughout discussions, as this will encourage a productive conversation. A mediator should be present to enforce this rule and to ensure discussions remain respectful.


For example, two of your coaches may be squabbling over how they conduct their gym classes. Issues such as coaching style, tardiness or vocabulary may be brought up but these issues may not be the root cause of the disagreement. The root of this problem could rather be an issue of poor communication from management. A solution to this problem would, therefore, be to clearly communicate your goals for each class, how you want the class to be structured and the correct coaching etiquette. If you have set clear guidelines, then it will not be left up to interpretation.


  1. Establish a common goal for both parties

determine an outcome that is desirable for both parties. A common goal of the above-mentioned example could be to create a uniform and high-quality training experience for all members no matter what coach they have. Make sure both parties can agree on the common goal, and that it is favourable for both parties. Discuss what each party defines as a good gym class and good coaching style and try to find common ground. Set out the guidelines that arise from the discussion and put this down on a piece of paper. The guidelines can then be referred back to.


  1. Negotiate between the aggrieved parties

Sit down in a neutral setting to discuss a plan that will help everyone reach the common goal. This is a give-and-take situation and it is therefore important to promote empathy from each side by making them see the other person’s perspective. Negotiations can become emotionally loaded, and it is therefore important to continue using the “I feel” language so that no one feels attacked.


  1. Find a solution to creative problem solving

Once you have negotiated between the two parties, the next step is to agree on the solution and the strategy to implement this. How will everyone work together to reach your common goal? It is important to make this step very clear, so everyone knows what is expected of him or her. Assign clear responsibilities to each party. This can be helpful to write down in an email to send to both parties so that they can refer back to it at a later stage. This will also prevent any misunderstanding or misinterpretation.


  1. Quick fixes for small issues

If one person in your team is having a bad day and is spreading some negativity in your gym, nip the issue in the bud by implementing a fun and creative conflict resolution process. At BoxChamp, for example, we issue 10 push-ups as fines for any negative energy that has been brought in to the office space. This immediately lightens the mood and you can all move on with your day. Get inspiration from this by implementing your own fines for negative behaviours, such as penalty burpees or 10 air squats. This is sure to make your team more positive and more fit. Win-win!


Make sure your conflict resolution process is visible and known to your staff members so that everyone is aware of the steps to be taken when a grievance arises. Avoid big feuds and long-winded conflicts by promoting open communication channels. Listen to grievances each employee has and take the appropriate steps to solve the problem. Do not shy away from conflict, as it is an important part of building a strong team. It is how you chose to resolve it that will make or break your business.

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