Focus on Retention

Making Fitness Fun

Which of the three words in the title of this article is the most important?

Most people would choose the word "fun." After all, that's the objective. Many others would choose the word "fitness" because that's the business we are in. The most important word in the title, however, is "making." You see "Making Fitness Fun" sounds simple, but in reality it's hard work because you have to MAKE IT HAPPEN. Here are five questions to ask yourself when evaluating if you're truly positioned to make fitness fun.

1) Have you hired happy people? People respond to people, and the first people they respond to are their leaders-the instructors, trainers and supervisory personnel who promote and implement the programs. If you're hiring strictly on degrees, certifications or experience, chances are you're missing the key quality in your leadership-upbeat, energetic, people-loving, positive, happy personalities. For example, in a group exercise class, the participants are not only following the leader physically, but emotionally as well. If the teacher is smiling and laughing periodically, so is the group. Leaders who are generally unhappy in life, even though schooled in the business, will not create a happy fitness experience for the member. Happy leaders make it happen.

2) Is your management committed to creating a fun environment? There is no getting away from it: Everything starts at the top. Management must treat staff the way they expect staff to treat members. All too often managers come to work as grouches and hole up in their offices. Instead, they could begin the day by greeting their employees with a smile and then do the same to members. They could surprise the staff with a bouquet of balloons or bring treats for the early-bird employees and members. Management should encourage jokes on bulletin boards, put affirmations in paychecks, and compliment staff members in front of their peers. Managers should also take part in programs and enjoy the club with the members. The enthusiasm of management can be contagious. Managers can help make it happen.

3) Is your club a fun place to walk into? Every activity department in a club should have bulletin boards with seasonal or holiday decorations adorning the perimeters. There should be pictures of members enjoying every kind of fitness activity available in the club-even social activities such as luncheons, coffee groups or hanging at a snack bar. In fact, groups of members socializing, sharing experiences and enjoying a friendly laugh together contribute to a fun atmosphere. Creating a visibly fun, friendly environment makes it happen.

4) Do you include fun in your promotions? Are your programs designed to create a fun experience for everyone? A program should have an overall theme to it that encourages participation. Promotional opportunities such as Easter, Cinco De Mayo, Mother's/Father's Day, an anniversary, a birthday celebration or a personal tribute to someone can create excitement and a desire to participate. These programs become annual events that make fitness fun and help retention, too. Promotions that include a fun flair, a theme, a reason to join (besides the physical benefits of exercise), etc., help make it happen.

5) Are your fitness programs set up to be fun for everyone? If you run competitions and only the top two contenders can win a prize, the program is not set up to be fun for everyone. A small prize or recognition for participation should be awarded to all the competitors. Fifth place, most valuable player, perfect attendance or best effort awards are often more appreciated and remembered than first place or winners-only prizes. Of course it's all a matter of how you present them. A party or banquet at the end of a fitness program can ensure the next event is successful. Make sure you have an energetic, positive leader giving out prizes for personal achievements. Take pictures of the event and post them on your bulletin boards and put them in your newsletters. Fitness can be fun. You can make it happen.

- Sandy Coffman, president of Program-ming For Profit, is available for presentations, consultations or training. She can be contacted at 9216 Kingston Road, Bradenton, FL 34210; (941) 795-7887; fax: (941) 795-0590; [email protected]

Is Your Customer Service Good?

There are many ways to assess your facility's customer service. But according to Doug Howardell, an independent consultant, a good assessment tool should measure the following key issues:

1) Making sure you know what your customers want and expect

2) Being flexible in meeting customer demands

3) Treating customers like partners rather than members

4) Making it easy for the customer to do business with you

5) Having a positive attitude toward customers

6) Encouraging feedback

7) Responding to problems

8) Developing relationships

9) Seeking to exceed customer expectations

Source: The aca Group

Americans: Lazy About Their Diet

A recent survey released by the American Dietetic Association revealed that nine out of 10 Americans say that diet and nutrition are important to them. However, less than half of all Americans are doing more to achieve a healthy diet.

The survey also found that 84 percent of the adults feel that getting enough exercise is important, but only 41 percent feel they are doing all they can.

Enter health clubs and a tremendous retention opportunity. An unwillingness to forgo favorite foods, not wanting to take the time to keep track of diet, and confusion over nutrition guidelines were some of the reasons Americans were not doing their part. By offering weight management and healthy nutrition programs, clubs can help their members stay on track to a healthy diet and lifestyle.

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