As a fitness education manager, part of my job takes me into clubs around the world to size up programming for different fitness facilities. And it does not seem to matter where I am, the stereotype remains the same. Typically, there is a fair amount of tension or lack of awareness between group exercise instructors and personal trainers. Often there is some debate as to the value, safety and credibility of each department. And except in the rare instances where an employee is in both departments, typically a group exercise instructors get a bad rap for being perceived as “high maintenance” and trainers get pegged as “macho men.”
Independently, each department adds obvious value to the facility and it’s members. And, it makes sense that a collaboration of dynamic individuals would increase the value to everyone. There are those people who simply never enter a group fitness class and conversely those who never step onto the weight floor. In either case, a dynamic leader in fitness can influence the ears of members and can encourage those members to branch out and try something new. The obvious return here is increased retention with increased member usage. Additional hard dollar value may come in increased personal training revenue and word of mouth advertising driving new members into the door.
I have found that hosting cross promotion events is a great way to unite the departments and increase members’ satisfaction. Once a team is established without a wedge between group exercise and personal training, some really great ideas can emerge. Things as simple as having a personal trainer gain exposure by teaching the abdominal segment of a popular step class is a great start. In this case the trainer gets immediate exposure to 30-50 potential clients. Having a personal training team join with a group fitness instructor to teach a sculpting class also provides significant power of suggestion. A popular instructor endorsing a new trainer can help that trainer fill up his/her appointment calendar in no time. And that trainer can be a recruitment avenue for the member who would never step foot on the group fitness floor.
Monthly theme parties/events are a fun way to increase traffic in the club as well as obtain new members. If planned correctly with proper marketing and minimal investments, the event can bolster the member experience. Each month a member of the group fitness team pairs up with a personal trainer and has the task of coming up with a new themed event. This creates a fun competitive environment among the staff internally. The event may just consist of something as simple as an extended group cycling class combined with a circuit-training workout on the fitness floor.
If the organizing team/committee is ambitious, they can contact local merchants for some prizes and then host a raffle drawing at the party. Often local merchants are happy to donate prizes as long as they are recognized. Businesses like Starbucks Coffee and Subway Sandwiches actually have a monthly donation allowance for just this. Additionally local grocery stores are usually happy to donate yesterdays baked goods because while they are still good, they are no longer “fresh baked” and will generally be thrown out. Offering prizes is another great incentive for members. Maybe at each event a member of the month award is given out for the member who attains a goal or does something extraordinary for the club. Having the staff vote on each month’s recipient can be a fun team building exercise. The member can then be showcased at the front desk or given one free month of dues.
While planning the event, keep in mind that the goal is to expose all of the members to all of the amenities of the club so the member gets full use of the facility therefore increasing retention. Having said that, the party should be something that the majority of the group will want to participate in. If showcasing a new hip-hop class is part of the event, be sure that it is a fun experience for all the members and keep it short. Maybe the hip-hop class becomes a demonstration at the end of the event for everyone to see. Plugging it in at the end of the event gives people an option to try it without disrupting the entire workout and losing momentum and energy. The end of the event is also usually when everyone’s energy is high and people are more alert and receptive to something new. It is a good idea to host the drawing or prize giveaway at the cessation of everything to keep the group around. Although it can also be fun to give out small prizes during the event itself to keep the momentum going.
Another cross promotion event idea is to offer free club member seminars taught by personal training team members and/or members of the group exercise team. Offering free seminars does a few things to increase member satisfaction and increase revenue. Firstly, it demonstrates the education level of the staff at your facility, thereby instilling trust in your members. Additionally, it offers your members added value to their membership that they would not normally receive at another facility. It will create interest in personal training as well as group fitness. And it will also help your staff better understand the needs of your members.
Hosting seminars on popular topics like abdominal training, weight loss myths or nutrition will insure a full session. Be sure to give your members plenty of useful information that they can leave with and in turn, they will be your biggest promotional vehicles for future events. Once your members know that their valuable time was well spent in the lecture, they may be inclined to pay for more education and will certainly tell their family, friends and workout buddies about the event.
Whatever the event you choose, proper promotion is really the key for success. Be sure that you invest time and effort in creating quality, relevant promotion pieces. They do not need to be expensive, but keep in mind that promotional literature will set the climate for what your members can expect. Make sure that your staff really buys into the event, since word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to promote. You may want to hand out small invitations at the front desk. A personal invitation is a nice surprise and will spark interest. Be sure to have a sign-up sheet readily available at the front desk and be sure to phone each member the night before the event with a friendly reminder. At the conclusion, take pictures of each event and be sure to create a collage to draw attention afterward. This will remind the members who attended how much fun they had and show the members who did not attend what they missed. And lastly, thank your members and your staff for attending/promoting the event.
As a club owner/manager/personal trainer/instructor, creating a fun climate in the club and instilling confidence in member programs will increase member satisfaction and directly affect retention. Additionally, working as a team collectively to create new and fun cross promotion events is a great employee morale building idea and will reduce the gap between personal trainers and group exercise instructors. Building a bridge between the two departments will serve your members and your facility in a positive way by building a strong team, generating new members and creating increased revenue.