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Gift Your Members With Wellness and Education


The Black Team expresses their excitement for the 90-Day Fitness Challenge.

We all know the importance of customer service in today’s fitness market. Investing in your members’ wellness is an inexpensive format for developing a relationship with your clients that will increase retention and loyalty.

Big Vanilla has been offering seminars and lectures on a semi-regular basis for the past six years — offering a wide variety of topics to appeal to different demographics with the intention of involving as many members as possible. Through trial and error we have found that it is imperative your audience takes tangible, functional information away from the presentation.

The primary objective must be to educate the member, not to sell a practitioner or trainer’s services. Certainly, the club benefits from the exposure given to those presenters who offer services at the facility. However, it is a mistake to consider these gatherings for the sole purpose of marketing those services. Today’s consumer is wary of the soft sell and resents being herded into a captive audience. The enthusiasm will be null and participation will dwindle. For that reason, we require our staff and guest speakers to offer presentations that provide the member with practical education. For example, if a life coach is presenting on emotional eating, the member will leave with skills to combat personal triggers, stress reduction techniques and a list of resources for study purposes. If the presentation is on nutrition and fueling the body for fat loss, participants exit with recipes, a detailed shopping list and advice on where to find specialty items. The presenter’s business card is in plain sight, but that is the extent of the marketing.

Look within your club for talented speakers who use humor and naturally exhibit empathy. On subject matters that are not adjacent to a service you currently offer, invite local professionals and practitioners to guest speak. Make sure they understand your rules of engagement with your members.

The expenditure is minuscule. With a little manpower to set up chairs and the creation of an e-mail blast, you are off and on your way to beefing up the value of a membership at your club. To enhance participation, poll your members on topics of interest and hold the gatherings following popular Group X classes within peak hours. Members are much more likely to increase the duration of one visit to the facility than to return for a lecture later in the day. Encourage feedback by requesting speaker surveys at the completion that will alert you to topics and performances not worthy of your line up.

Be creative with the titles to tease participation — “Too Busy to Learn How to Reclaim Your Time?” Time management is the number one excuse for not exercising, so why not educate the member on how to make it happen? Offer programming that encourages participation at your lectures. Our Big Vanilla 90-Day Challenge is a point-based team competition that includes points for attending our wellness lectures, helping to create energy around the presentation — the more bodies in the room, the more people that will wander in to hear what they are missing. Encourage your members to invite their friends and family. If the presentations are truly informative, your numbers will grow and through education you will make fans out of your members.


By Julie Lincoln, Big Vanilla Director of Fitness and Wellness

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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