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CS Exclusive: Fitness Challenges – A Challenge for Your Member, or Your Club?


The Urban Active “Get Active Challenge”

Fitness Challenges in your club can boost sales, assist in retention and increase your personal training revenue. There are many clubs that are currently hosting successful fitness challenges — we touched base with them to discover what has worked for them and what could potentially work for your club.

The Alaska Club

The Alaska Club set its goal for the 2012 Fitness Challenge to increase member retention by boosting its members’ involvement with club staff and services, said Janet Warner, the general manager of fitness services. Open to members and non-members alike, “Our struggle is always getting in contact with the member that needs us most — the one that is not using the club regularly,” she said.

The 2012 Fitness Challenge has allowed them to target specific membership groups, as it has required members to exercise at least 12 times a month at one of The Alaska Club locations. “We received great feedback — from those that struggle to get three times in per week — that this challenge was ideal. They were motivated to get in their workouts, but not overwhelmed,” said Warner.

Over 500 members and 85 employees participated in the 2012 Fitness Challenge, said Warner. The Alaska Club reached its goal to connect current members to staff and services available in the club. Although the club’s goal wasn’t to increase its membership, participants in the challenge won guest passes as a prize point — this used already excited members to entice non-members to experience the club.

“The feedback from challenge participants has been great,” said Warner. “We’ve had many reports of weight loss, many have reported motivation, taking classes and using services they have never tried before — and most completing the challenge and asking for more.”

Big Vanilla

Big Vanilla (Big V) has seen success as a result of its 90-Day Fitness Challenge, a 12-week program that placed members onto teams of 19-20 people. The challenge required participants to work out at least three times a week, complete one group fitness challenge a week and take a multitude of Group X classes.

“Our goal is to create the habit of coming to the facility at least three times a week,” explained Julie Lincoln, the director of fitness and wellness for Big V. Each challenge consisted of about 130-180 people — about 30-60 participants were non-members. According to Lincoln, about 90 percent of non-members eventually joined Big V after the challenge. “It’s the best membership retention tool I’ve ever seen,” she said.

Effie Dawson, a member of Big V, completed the challenge four times. “I noticed myself starting to make excuses to not go,” she said. “I wanted a jump-start, and [the 90-Day Challenge] worked.” As a result of the challenge Dawson got back into the routine of going to the gym. Since starting her first challenge, she has lost 15 pounds. “I like that it gives me a reason to go to the gym. It has made the gym a part of my everyday life. Its just fun.”

For Big Vanilla, The 90-Day Fitness Challenge was a great tool to foster a habit in members of coming to the gyms multiple times a week. Over 2,000 members have participated in the challenge, with many repeats, said Lincoln. “We’ve had people doing [the challenge] for years,” she said.

Urban Active

When Men’s Health Magazine named Lexington, Ky. — the city where Urban Active is headquartered — one of the “Most Sedentary” cities in America, Urban Active took action and decided to host the “Get Active Challenge” and tour the 10 cities that infamously made the list. The goal of the challenge was to get the word out about the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle, and to encourage community members to take action. “Our slogan stated — ‘Don’t take this sitting down!’” said KT Remus, the vice president of marketing for Urban Active.

“The goal was to encourage members to support each other by signing up to take the challenge and blog about their experiences — the good, bad and ugly — so that they could interact and support each other along the way to getting active and healthy,” said Remus. “We never imagined it would be this successful.”

Over 500 people participated in the challenge, which ended in February. “We were able to leverage the negative press by Men’s Health Magazine naming most of the cities in which we operate some of the ‘Most Sedentary,’ by engaging the community to take action,” said Remus.

In addition to using fitness challenges as a way to gain members, they may equally benefit your club by catering to current members, by channeling them into different areas of your club, and as a retention tool. A challenge may be as simple as urging members to take a certain amount of group fitness classes in a month, to get into the club at least a few times a week or to participate in even one or two aspects of the club that they weren’t experiencing before. Fitness challenges offer you a unique and fun way to interact with your members. How will your club enhance its overall experience in 2012 through fitness challenges?


By Rachel Zabonick

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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