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Focus on Programming

Celebrating Mother's/Father's Day

If family fitness has been identified by both IHRSA and ACE as one of the top trends in fitness for the year 2001, then it's only natural to apply special programming attention to Mother's Day and Father's Day. It seems that almost everyone is looking for something unique, fun and healthy to do on or around these revered holidays. So why not take advantage of the perfect marriage between families and fitness by designing some activities which will either generate revenue, retain current members or attract new ones?

Ongoing Parent/Child Programs

These include the traditional “Mommy and Me” classes in the swimming pool or in the youth fitness department, and group exercise programs for parents and children (such as Step or group cycling). If you already have these programs in place, you should promote them more visibly at this time with special invitations to family members, newspapers ads or flyers throughout the club. If you're beginning these programs, now is the optimum time to do it by capitalizing on Mother's Day and Father's Day.

One-Time Specialty Programs

  • Develop a fitness challenge where the prize and the name of the challenge will be “Mums for Mums.” Begin this program just after April 15, when the taxes are paid and people are ready to begin getting into shape for the summer months.

    Culminate the challenge on the Saturday before Mother's Day and everyone who completes it will receive two large potted mums for their “Mums and Mums-in-law.”

    If you want to offset the cost of the mums, then charge a $5 or $10 fee to participate in the challenge. If you can purchase the mums in conjunction with a charity, this will help to get the attention of the media.

  • Invite moms and dads to participate in any program that pertains to their kids. For example, at the Newtown Athletic Club, we have the Girl's Club, which meets twice a week for eight weeks and teaches girls about exercise, nutrition and motivational aspects of health and fitness. Offer a similar program and invite the moms in for a day and then the dads, so that they can participate and observe their daughters' progress and fitness activities.

  • Father-Daughter Sports Night or a Mother-Son Sports Night. Challenge families with scooter races, Spin and runs, soccer games, bowling tournaments, relay races and more. The object is for families to have fun and exercise at the same time.

  • Plan a Spring Family Challenge, scheduled midway between Mother's and Father's Day to include both parents. This event can be done on your own property or partner with your local Parks and Recreation Department. This day could include relay races, tug of wars, and fabulous inflatable rides that challenge both the young and young at heart.

  • Mother-Daughter Brownie and Girl Scout Sleepovers. Why not promote this event for Mother's Day? This popular event will be a big hit with the “girls.”

  • Mother-Daughter Teas and Father-Son Golf Outings. They can be planned for these holidays and be promoted not only to your current members, but also to their guests or the general public. At the event be sure to include promotional materials and invitations to return with trial passes, etc.

  • Mother's and Father's Guest Week/Month. Send out invitations to members to bring in their parents to participate in your “Senior Programming” activities. Give the parents a “couples” trial membership for a week or a month and plan an orientation activity for them with their children. All participants must attend this orientation together to receive their complimentary memberships. In this way, you may properly introduce yourself and your club's programs to a larger group of people.

These ideas are only the beginning of what you can do to create excitement around Mother's Day and Father's Day. The fitness industry is closely aligned to the theme park industry in that all activities need to be entertaining to hold the interest of the participant. By capitalizing on other themes to revitalize old ideas we can hold our participants' interest for a little longer and peak the interest of a new “user.”

Remember: The roller coaster is not always wooden; it can be metal, have loops, hang from the top or even require the rider to stand. The most important aspect is that it's safe and does what it says it will — provide a great ride!

Linda Mitchell is a 20-year veteran of the fitness industry and the director of marketing and public relations for Newtown Athletic Club and Middletown Country Club. She is also the executive director for the Delaware Valley Alliance of Health & Sportclubs.

We Are Family

  1. Identify your target: mothers and fathers.

  2. Decide what message they will respond to (e.g., participating with their children).

  3. Send the desired message so that they will hear it. Usually parents will respond to the invitation if it comes through their children, or vice versa.

  4. Make the invitation specific and attractive. Create an event that is perceived to be non-threatening and fun.

  5. Follow up with personal phone calls to ensure response.

  6. Offer gifts or incentives to get people to participate.

  7. After the event, send a “thank you” for participation.

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