Over the last few weeks, Jen and I have been conducting design research for our project with Castle Hill Fitness. At the beginning of this assignment we created a research plan on our own which focused on the green initiatives that the gym utilizes. The goal was to learn about the impact these may have on members and employees. After meeting with Castle Hill Fitness we updated our research plan to better reflect their interest in learning more about the new member on boarding process.
Focus Statement: We plan to learn how new members feel about and become familiarized with the products and services offered by Castle Hill Fitness.
Next we began conducting interviews. We have met with 15 participants including employees, former members, current members (new and old), and potential future members to learn about their gym experiences. From these interviews we’ve collected many hours of audio which we’re in the process of transcribing, and over 800 photos. We’re midway through adding all this data to our work space walls in preparation for the next steps of affinity diagramming, which we will use to group the data into themes based on inferences. We will explain more about this grouping process in a later post once we’ve done it.
At this stage of the process we’d like to share some stories that came out of our research. These stories are not formalized themes, but give a general picture of what we heard in our time with participants, and may help convey a sense of the emotions and overall feelings that people had regarding Castle Hill Fitness and new gym membership.
One story we heard was how community is a big part of what people like about Castle Hill Fitness. Many of the participants we spoke to mentioned how Castle Hill Fitness has a family and community vibe to it, and that’s important to both the staff and members.
“When I turned 50 some of the people that are in Recess that I’ve been jumping rope with for 20 years, we went out to dinner in honor of my birthday. And it’s not about me, right? It’s about the connections that those people have with each other. And I was just the catalyst.”
We also heard the experience of a potential new member. We spoke to Renata, who’s looking to get back into fitness after recovering from some serious injuries. A friend had recommended Castle Hill Fitness so she went to check it out. When we spoke to her she’d done a 3 day free trial, but had not yet joined as a member.
“I loved the class and I was, like, glowing and I was so excited to keep doing Pilates. And the next morning I woke up so sore that I didn’t go back to Castle Hill, I didn’t go to my yoga class that I go to every Saturday. I’m an athletic person and I just felt wrecked. I think I was wrecked for like a week! So I didn’t use the rest of my trial in any sort of way.”
We heard from various gym employees about what it’s like working with new members. For example, Avery told us why she enjoys working with new members saying,
“I find new members exciting. Specifically, I really enjoy getting a new client and kind of starting to—I can’t find a more positive word—but starting to brainwash them. Kind of shedding all that stuff that they know about working out, what they know about gyms and their body … getting them into a deeper internal motivation based on how they’re feeling and how they’re moving.”
Lastly we spoke with a former Castle Hill Fitness member, Jane. She has recently decided to join the Townlake YMCA so we were able to hear about her experience as a new member at the Y and compare it to her time at Castle Hill Fitness.
“I know at Castle Hill they send a lot of emails to members, like ‘oh as a new member you get a free 15 min session with your personal trainer or da da da.’ Those are very helpful. I appreciate those, because I don’t know what’s going on. If you send me an email, I will read it, and be looking and researching what this gym has. If you tell me what you have, and that 15 minute thing or whatever then I’m more likely to act upon it than me wanting to ask what you have offered. At the Y, no emails yet.”
When choosing what to include in our presentation to Castle Hill we tried to select stories that would be interesting for the client to hear. We did this by using quotes and examples that might reveal something new, or convey the emotional impact/personality of the participant. In presenting personal stories from the research we hope to humanize the data and make it more relatable.