How To Profit From A New Year’s Weight Loss Challenge

Ben Greenfield | 01 Dec 2010

I remember, with great fondness now but great trepidation at the time, when my personal training manager called me into his office and explained that I was responsible for designing and organizing the club’s biggest event of the year: A New Year’s Weight Loss Challenge. As I sat in the office nodding and emanating confidence, I knew deep down inside that this was a formidable task that could put my job in jeopardy if I underperformed.

Perhaps you are in the same situation: you know you need to do something for the New Year. After all, this is when gyms and health clubs are most highly trafficked with the largest number of desperate people looking to lose massive amounts of holiday cookie weight. At the same time, it can be quite intimidating to visualize the amount of logistical boxes to check that will actually allow the launch of a successful New Year’s competition or challenge.

As a matter of fact, I left the personal training manager’s office that day in a similar completely perplexed funk, but 4 months later had successfully pulled off the small fitness club’s biggest moneymaking event of the year ($6K in initial profit) and converted that success into an entire follow-up year of highly profitable individual and group personal training sales ($30K of yearly profit). This article explains how I did it, in five easy steps.

Step 1: Generate Interest

On a letter at the front desk, in an e-mail to club members, and as flyers posted around the gym, I posted the following advertisement:

“Lost It For Life" is a weight loss program that will help you achieve breakthrough levels of fitness and a new body. All participants in this challenge will compete between Jan. 15 and Mar. 15 to lose the highest amount of fat. You can compete as a team of 4 persons, or as an individual. To help every participant achieve success, free individual 10-minute personal training sessions will be scheduled every month for each participant, and a group personal training session/Q&A will also be scheduled every month.

Participants will receive the biggest discounts of the year on personal training and nutritional supplements. Finally, at the end of the competition, the top three competitors in team, male & female division will receive grand prizes and gift baskets! Ready to start? Let the challenge begin!

Step 2: Create Cookies

No, I’m not talking about brining a plate of holiday gingerbread cookies to the gym. Instead, I’m referring to a tempting offer to inspire as many individuals as possible to sign-up: the grand prizes and the gift baskets. While promising them in the initial sign-up letter is a good idea, procuring and displaying the prizes in a public area of the gym is an even better idea.

In this case, I delivered the following letter to local business, with the headline: “Make a Healthy Difference – Enhance Your Business Identity and Sponsor This Year’s ‘Lost It For Life’ Challenge!”

Between January 15 and March 17, participants from the club compete to see who can shed the most body fat, with free personal trainer clinics, individual support meetings, nutritional tracking, monthly weigh-ins & body fat testing. If you’re looking for the best way to promote your business as a proponent of healthy lifestyle, this is it!

You bet – that’s where you come in! This year we’re not only offering free memberships, tanning packages, supplements, and personal trainer discounts, but we’re also encouraging local business participation in the prize packages - gift baskets full of goods, gift certificates, coupons & discounts from sponsors.

During the entire 3 month course of the challenge, your business and the prize that you donate will be prominently displayed to hundreds of daily members at the club. You will also be recognized on all flyers and advertising material. The sponsor gift baskets will be displayed at the club during the challenge. Finally any employees of your business that want to sign-up to participate in the challenge will automatically receive a 10% discount!

Simply call xxx-xxx-xxxx. Tell us what you’d like to donate, and we’ll send a representative from the club to pick up your sponsored prizes!

Call xxx-xxx-xxxx or stop by the club. Sign-up is $40 for members, $50 for non-members & $120 for teams of 4. Of course, your business employees automatically receive a 10% discount if you decide to sponsor the challenge. You must sign-up by Friday, January 5!

As mentioned above, all donated prize packages were then prominently displayed at the gym, both before and during the challenge.

Step 3: Give Details

At the front desk, have a general information sheet available to interested participants. Here’s what ours looked like:

General Overview

- Registration is $40/members, $50/non-members, and $120/team of 4 people.

- Upon signing-up, you, or your team, will be contacted by a personal trainer to schedule your 10 minute meeting, with weigh-in, photos, and trainer consultation.

- Follow-up meetings will be scheduled on a monthly basis, with the final weigh-ins/photos occurring on the week of March 12th.

- A monthly 1 hour group meeting and personal training session will be available to all participants, with featured presentations by the entire personal training staff.

- Dates/times will be announced at the beginning of each month.

- Final winners will be determined based on total pounds of fat lost as a percentage of body weight. For standardized results, body weight and fat will be measured using a bioelectrical impedance scale.

Prizes & Discounts

- Significant personal training discounts are offered to all participants and teams who hire a personal trainer for the length of the competition. By signing up for training during the course of the challenge on a 3x/week, 2x/week or 1x/week basis, you receive a 20%, 15% or 10% discount, respectively. Each team receives an additional 5% discount on training (training done as a team).

- All participants will also receive an automatic 20% discount on all nutritional supplements.

- Prizes and gift baskets awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in team, male and female divisions.4. The first place finishers in all divisions will also have the option of before/after photos posted on a Wall of Fame at the end of the competition. Finally, all participants will receive the greatest prize – a brand new body!

Participant Instructions

Between January 8th and 15th, there will be a timesheet available at the front desk to schedule your first 15 minute weigh-in/fat%/photo. Required weigh-ins and personal trainer meetings will occur once a month, and will be scheduled on an individual basis. During the meeting, you can also find out your current ranking in the competition, and ask nutrition and fitness questions to your trainer. Wear a t-shirt and shorts to the weigh-in. For the first and last weigh-ins, if a photo is desired, both males and females will wear shorts or under-garments that do not cover more than 1/2 the thigh, and females will wear a sport bra, undergarment, or swim wear top. A handheld body fat % calculator will be used for testing body fat. For more accurate results, refrain from strenuous exercise before the test, avoid diuretics like caffeine and alcohol for at least 24 hours before the test, empty bladder before test, and do not eat or drink large amounts for 3 hours leading up to the test.

Step 4: Provide Support

The level of support that participants receive from personal training staff during the challenge will significantly affect their overall impression of personal trainers and propensity to sign-up for personal training when the challenge is complete. For this reason, personal trainers were supplied with a general nutrition recommendation sheet from a local registered dietitian (thus avoiding legal or knowledge issues with dispensing nutrition advice), a grocery shopping list, a lifestyle re-design sheet, and exercise instructions sheet. They supplied these to the participants during the first meeting, and the provision of these documents allowed that first meeting to be as brief as 10 minutes, since time was limited.

Step 5: Follow-Up!

When the challenge was complete, a follow-up letter went out to all gym members after the challenge was over – and that follow-up letter immediately generated another 20K in personal training revenue within 1 month! It not only featured photos and fat loss statistics of the winners, but more importantly, it compared the results of the people in the weight loss challenge who hired an individual personal trainer to oversee their program, versus those who did not.

You are encouraged to creatively modify the materials presented in this article for your gym or club’s New Year’s Weight Loss Challenge, you can feel free to use this information as a template to design your program.While you’re running the competition, feel free to e-mail me if you have questions, and be sure to send the successful results of your program to the team at PTontheNet so that everyone can learn from your program’s success!

Ben has written a book for fitness business professionals entitled Personal Trainers’ Guide to Earning Top Dollar. The book is available in hard copy or electronic format via Ben's website,

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Ben Greenfield

About the author: Ben Greenfield

Ben is a fitness business coach, triathlon author, and sports nutritionist. He was voted in 2008 as the Personal Trainer of the Year by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Ben is Director of Sports Performance and oversees the physiology and biomechanics laboratory at Champions Sports Medicine in Spokane, Washington, which offers metabolic-based weight loss, bicycle fitting, running gait analysis, swim stroke analysis, VO2 max testing, blood lactate testing, resting metabolic rate analysis and more.

Ben now competes as the #1 ranked triathlete for Triathlon Northwest. As an author of multiple books on fitness, metabolism, and diet, Ben specializes in nutrition, weight loss, triathlete analysis, coaching, and endurance athlete program design. He has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology.

Ben is a frequent contributor to the outdoor sports magazine OutThere Monthly and has been featured in the Spokesman-Review, Inlander magazine, In-Health magazine and Inside Triathlon magazine. As a public speaker on fitness, nutrition, and training, Ben has been the keynote lecturer at the Hawaii Ironman World Championships Medical Conference, the Coeur D’Alene Ironman Medical Conference, Fleet Feet Sports Endurance Sports Clinic and REI Nutrition Clinic. Ben is the owner of Pacific Elite Fitness, an online multi-sport coaching and training service and also sits on the board of directors for Tri-Fusion triathlon team and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Ben's additional websites include:

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