Even a well-designed, well-equipped facility may not attract new members with disabilities if they do not feel valued and accepted by the staff and by other members at the club. Robert Bennett, a freelance writer and a person with a disability who works out twice a week at a health club, says "owners should be just as concerned with the mental well-being of their clients as they are for their physical well-being." Many people without disabilities have a hard time starting an exercise program because they feel embarrassed about their poor fitness level or ashamed of their lack of skills. People with disabilities are no different in this regard. In addition, they may have to deal with the negative attitudes of others towards people with disabilities. Non-disabled members or instructors may feel uncomfortable in the presence of a person with a disability, leaving that person feeling alienated and unwanted.
Educating the instructors and other staff and allowing them to act as role models for the general membership may be the best way to ensure that members with disabilities encounter as many positive attitudes as possible. Another possibility may be to hire more staff who have disabilities themselves. It should go without mention that any fitness professional who will be working with a member with a disability should have the necessary technical knowledge to make safe and appropriate decisions whenever necessary. This knowledge may need to be imparted through an in-house training program, as this information is not covered in any of the major national certifications.
In addition to technical knowledge, all club staff should be taught proper "person-first" terminology. Examples of this terminology are: a person with a disability as opposed to handicapped person or cripple, a person who uses a wheelchair as opposed to wheelchair-bound, and a person with intellectual disability as opposed to a mentally retarded person. It may also be helpful to expose staff to some of the difficulties encountered by a person with a disability and make them aware of the possible increased importance of physical activity to maintain their "margin of health."
It can take time for people with and without disabilities to feel comfortable exercising together, but familiarity will eventually lead to acceptance.