I can see why it can be intimidating to walk into a gym
While I was away last week (you all missed me, right?) I had to get my workouts in at foreign gyms.
Normally I look for CrossFits to workout in. They generally have the equipment I need and are friendly to drop-ins. I found a great one where I was able to get two visits in. I felt super comfortable there, and everyone was friendly. Barbell Strategy folks would find it familiar - just a big box with heavy weights and nothing fancy.
At my second stop on vacation, there were no CrossFits to go to. So I ended up at the local Y - but it was a fancy Y. The gym was mostly treadmills, ellipticals, and spin bikes. Everything was sterilized clean and there was pop music on (and the heaviest kettlebell they had was 50 lbs).
I was doing my plan 996 workout, which is simple, boring, and doesn't stand out as a weird workout - but I still felt weird being there. There was something about all of the mirrors and bright lights and bros at the benches that made me feel uncomfortable doing my workout.
I've been in gyms for 20 years, I know my way around a gym, I should never feel uncomfortable being in one (except maybe Westside Barbell where I have no business being). It got me thinking about why it was weird to be there. Sure, some of it may be that it was just different - clean and neat, no horse stall mats, and no kettlebells anywhere. But I think that the standard gym in their goal to look fancy is actually off-putting.
It may be scary for a newbie to walk into Barbell Strategy - we don't have the most welcoming appearance - but once they're in the front doors everyone is friendly and there's nothing about the atmosphere that would put anyone on the spot. It's a high barrier to entry, but really easy to get by once you're in there. In a typical globogym, they do their best to make it easy to get you in the door. But once you're there, it feels sterile like a hospital or a library and you don't feel comfortable being there. The mirrors, the complicated machines, the rules everywhere you turn - it all just takes away from your focus on getting work done. And even the act of doing real work makes you stand out when most people are spinning away on their cardio machines or trying to do quarter squats in the Smith machine.
I never thought about it that way, even when I travel I'm at a place that's like us. Now I see what a typical newbie experiences in a big box gym, and it's not fun. I can see why people don't keep active with their gym memberships. At least we're friendly! If we can get people to walk in the doors, you guys make a community that makes people feel comfortable and stay.