Summer is typically a more challenging season for clubs to navigate. However, if you have a strong youth fitness program, you might find summers aren’t so slow after all.
Franco’s Athletic Club & Spa in Mandeville, Louisiana, operates a successful and engaging youth fitness program, including exercise classes, swim lessons and a summer camp, and as a result, doesn’t experience a drop-off in attendance when school is out.
The key to their success is getting into kids’ minds, crafting classes and activities that are appealing to children while encouraging healthy lifestyles.
“Keep in mind kids get bored easily — your youth programs should be fun, exciting, safe and adaptable for all ages,” said Sandy Franco, the owner and marketing director of Franco’s. “If you want them to keep coming you have to keep things fresh, new and ever changing.”
Youth fitness at Franco’s has seen success using light competition to encourage participation, specifically through using metrics that allow kids to compete against each other or progress through their own goals.
“If your youth program is primarily fitness-based, you can incorporate fitness metrics like calories burned or heart rate monitoring,” said Franco. “If possible, always incorporate technology — it’s what kids know and love, and it’s their world.”
Adding the concept of “levels” has taken the youth fitness classes at Franco’s to another level. By encouraging kids to beat their “high scores” while exercising, the club gets better participation from kids and, by extension, better attendance from families. The key is gamification — make the programs as fun as possible.
“Adults and kids alike, we are all naturally programmed to want to move up to the next level and become better, be the best,” said Franco. “Creating points and levels is what made the video gaming industry become so successful. Incorporating levels in your program will better ensure repeated participation and enrollment.”
Franco has also found it never hurts to get creative in the program design. “Have some fun with it and name the levels,” she said. “We name the different levels in our swim lessons, summer camp and after school programs to make them more fun.”
And if you’re short on ideas for fun summer programs, Franco has a very simple suggestion: ask the participants for their input.
“If you’re not sure what kind of program would attract kids, just ask — kids always have the best ideas,” said Franco. “They are creative, daring and would love being included on a ‘kids advisory panel.’”
So if you’re wondering how best to get new members out of the sun and into your club, consider making some creative changes to your youth fitness programs.