How can I get the members of my gym to put their weights away when they're finished?
I can't say we've had this question before, but indeed I am sure it is a global phenomenon. When push comes to shove, the negligence behind leaving weights on the floor most likely falls into the frame of mind of the club member. A lot of people enter gyms with the same mentality as entering a nice restaurant. They expect to be served, and if you have set up a gym that is big on client service (which is a good thing), then unless they are shown otherwise, they may subconsciously assume that while their role is to lift the weights, the fitness instructors' role is to rack them...
Places where we have seen behavior to the contrary is in serious athletic training institutions, gyms/ studios that have an intimate clientele, and gyms/studios with a fairly focused bodybuilding clientele. There is a certain degree of independence and self reliance with these clients that seems to motivate them to put their weights away and keep the place looking tidy. Training for these people is a major part of their existence, so they take the time to put things away.
Probably the best way to create an environment that encourages weight return is to start early get them when they join. Let each new member know that they are part of a community, and that it is up to the community to look after the place. Simply tell them that everyone puts their own weights away when they are finished so that they are easy to find by the next guy. Give them the simple rationale and install it as a given of your gym's existence ...
With your current members, you may need to undergo a process of re-education. We have seen simple signs posted in various places throughout mainstream gyms that say something to the effect of: "PLEASE RETURN WEIGHTS TO THE APPROPRIATE RACK WHEN FINISHED. THANKS!". If these signs are typed, bold print, clean and professional looking, they can be quite effective without being intrusive or offensive. If you don't want to go that far, try a single sign near the entrance of the workout area, or even have your front desk personnel remind people as they enter. "Hey Tom, here's your towel and locker key. And just a reminder, if you use the weight room today, please take time to put the weights back on their rack when you're finished. Thanks."
When all else fails, try simple, clear communication.