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Five Elements to Consider for a Successful Fee-Based Program

To increase your revenue and reclaim your retention, it is more critical than ever for health clubs to provide value-added, safe and effective programming. Today, that often includes fee-based programs.

In the last decade, programming has become an important part of virtually all fitness facilities. Simultaneously, programming has grown more complex, making it difficult to stay cutting-edge even for the most fitness-savvy organization. In today's fitness world, it is more critical than ever to provide value-added, safe and effective programming to increase your revenue and reclaim your retention. That is why you should consider adding specialized, fee-based programs to your schedule.

But before you do so, you must consider these five elements:

1. Added value. Since fee-based programming is fairly new to the industry, most club operators are still trying to figure out how to charge for group classes. The answer is added value. Look at the personal training department as an example. That department offers added value of pre- and post-assessments, personal relationships and added nutritional guidance. With fee-based programs, you need to define your program and that program's added value. You then need to promote what that added value is. When you have a unique program with added value, your members will see the benefit of paying extra for a fee-based program.

2. Added control. Define whether or not controlling your program is important to you. Some owners choose to outsource their programming because they feel it puts the control back into their hands. A chain of gyms in Texas had an amazing instructor who led a boot camp program averaging 120 campers per launch. The trainer decided to start a boot camp business and left the facility. The facility not only lost 120 memberships, but it also lost the boot camp income. So before you implement a trainer-driven program, weigh the risks.

3. Added marketing. Launching a new program is time-consuming. Thinking about creating a marketing campaign around a new program can feel overwhelming. In working with a lot of facilities throughout the United States, I hear, "We tried implementing a new program, but it just wasn't marketed right, so it didn't take off like we hoped." Create a marketing team to draw attention to your new program. What does your launch look like? Will your club set up an information table announcing the new program? Will all of your trainers wear T-shirts with the program logo? What will your launch flyers, email and social media marketing look like? These are all questions to take into consideration when marketing your new program.

4. Added community. Most facility owners we work with on a daily basis have an initiative to build a community. However, they are so busy running their business that the community initiative becomes less of a priority. Create a community committee within your club consisting of your fee-based manager and trainers. Challenge them to partner with corporations to take your new fee-based program to them. This will allow you to maximize your profits outside the walls of your facility.

5. Added resources. Launching a new fee-based program takes a lot of resources. Additional resources to reach your members after they leave your facility can have a major impact on how fast your new program grows. The additional resources I'm referring to are educational. Stay in front of your members through social media. The average class is around an hour, and it's hard to educate them on everything. Incorporating YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to share your knowledge creates a connection with your current members outside of the gym, entices new members and aids in program retention.


Joanna Johnsen, vice president of sales and marketing for VicteliB LLC, is an experienced business consultant, wellness coach and social media marketing strategist with vast experience in all aspects of sales, large group fitness training solutions, fee-based fitness programming and management. You can reach Johnsen at, at 314-229-1663 or through the company's website at

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