The long wait for the winter thaw is over. Spring has sprung, trees have sprouted bright green leaves, and the last bell of the school year has sounded. It's officially the summer, and that means it's time to remind your members to bring their workouts inside.
That's right. Inside.
The summer is not only the perfect time to fast track an indoor workout, but it might just be the best way to boost membership numbers and reignite the energy in your fitness facility to avoid the typical mid-summer lull.
How can fitness facility operators entice members to spend their summer indoors without breaking the bank by investing in new equipment, personal trainers or programming options that were not part of the annual plan? Here are five ideas:
1. Split the difference. Take an existing group exercise class to a local park once per week, especially if the class does not require transporting a lot of equipment or accessories. Moving the class keeps it fresh and keeps the energy high. Your trainers can maintain the quality of the indoor class while helping members to maximize their workout in a new environment. Plus, an outdoor setting means you are not limited by space, so you can offer larger classes that might spark interest from members who have yet to try your lineup of group exercise options or park goers who might never have considered joining your fitness facility. Make sure to offer those outdoor class options at times where you do not run the risk of overheating, dehydration or severe weather.
2. Challenge the status quo. Remind members of the value that using equipment provides. A run around the local track or through town is great, especially when the weather cooperates, but exercisers who step off the treadmill lose a key contributor to progress: the resistance. Without the option to increase the resistance, add speed or increase the incline, exercisers are more likely to plateau and not see the results they want despite the effort being put into the workout on a daily basis.
Offer re-introduction classes on your equipment during the summer, or ensure your personal trainers are on the floor to help members learn about some of the lesser-used features and some of the new bells and whistles included on your equipment. Touch screen monitors definitely add a "wow" factor to cardio equipment, but most of them also offer added value, such as a coach with pre-programmed workouts, tailored courses or immersive environments. The summer is a great time to remind members of this so you can get them really engaged.
3. Go with the flow. People are going to be outside more in the summer. That is a given, especially for clubs in areas of the country where in mere months the temperatures will dip and precipitation will dictate outdoor activities. Rather than fight to bring people inside exclusively, help members to supplement their outdoor exercise with indoor options.
Remind members that you can't always do everything you would do in a fitness facility outside. Body weight resistance is a great option, but what if you want more? You can't bring a selectorized piece of equipment to the local park, and it can be a hassle to schlep a selection of medicine balls and free weights with you every morning.
That chest press or squat rack are great options to have inside of a facility to supplement your five-mile trail run at the crack of dawn or the weekend bike ride with the kids. What if you want to mix up your cardio and add in an elliptical session? You need to go into the facility for that.
4. Make it a family affair. Inevitably, kids affect summer workouts. Whether children are under foot during workout times because they are out of school for the summer or whether they are filling the park and local community pools during lap swim time, the end result is the same for your members: a less-than-peaceful workout experience and a definite need for "me time," free of interruptions, whining and inevitable squabbling.
Fitness facilities can offer camps for kids with organized activities that keep them active while the parents work out in peace. Better yet, if a facility is equipped to do so, why not offer a free three-month kids-only membership to encourage parents to get back into a healthy routine? They might even spend more time on property with add-on services such as spa treatments or personal training sessions. Either way, the club is gaining more members and additional revenue that will help create the routine that will keep members renewing their memberships.
5. Encourage attendance. Go back to the basics. Do you want to avoid a summer lull? Remind members that you want to see them. And more than that, you want to see them succeed in achieving their fitness goals.
Run contests that reward attendance. See who can run the farthest, log the most miles over a specific time or achieve a goal the quickest. For example, most cardio pieces offer pre-programmed tracks. See who can complete a given track the quickest or who can complete a 20-minute hills course on an elliptical in the shortest amount of time.
Start a small group training class that uses existing equipment and your staff to help members achieve goals. Small group classes are significantly less expensive for members than one-on-one sessions, and the facility gets to promote new programming that reminds members of the value of strength, cardio, free weights and accessories that already exist in the facility.
Do a charity ride that helps support a kids camp activity so that families can work together to stay active. While raising money, you also get to showcase your equipment and instructors and you re-introduce members to the value of a group program such as indoor cycling.
Let the warm summer days boost your membership. Remind your members that this is the time to bring their workout indoors for better results, more options and a reliable workout experience all summer long.
Content Sponsored by Star Trac.
Dan Corkill is the product manager for Star Trac. Corkill has a degree in exercise science from Penn State University and originally started in cardiac rehabilitation with the goal to go to medical school. After beginning his career as a personal trainer, Corkill has worked in the industry at Cybex, Life Fitness, Matrix and now Star Trac, all in product management.