The annual issue of inspiration is filled with 108 tips and tricks from 30-plus industry experts, all with a purpose to help educate operators, improve business operations and in return help you help more people in your communities to achieve their goals and improve their overall health and well-being.
Political advocacy was booming during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is still work that needs to be done in order for health clubs to be seen as vital. Here, Gale Landers, the founder and CEO of Fitness Formula Clubs, shares on how to stay politically involved.
1. Think of ROI by two definitions: Return On Investment and Return On Involvement. Get to know your local, state and federal representatives. Invite them to your facility. They will come. They are elected to serve you. Don’t wait until you have a problem to contact them. This is an easy, time-efficient step toward Return On Involvement.
2. Find out if your congressional district is represented in Project 435, a grassroots effort of the NHFA for fitness industry advocacy in all 435 U.S. districts. If not, sign up and learn how to advocate. We will teach you. Also, make a donation to the IHRSA PAC, a non-partisan political action committee. If you are in business, you are in politics.
While many members flock to your facility for group fitness and strength equipment, you may struggle to get them in your pools. Andrew Barranco, the regional operations manager of Merritt Clubs, shares two tips on how you can get members engaged in aquatics.
3. Summer events. Events are a fun way to involve members and show the value of your aquatics facilities. Have a calendar with dates of a few fun events for children, families and adults over the summer time. Special events like teen night, family movie night or adult night around the pool with themes, decorations, festive food and beverage are a great way to engage members.
4. Complimentary sessions. One way to get members engaged is to offer them a complimentary session when they sign up as new members. For members with children, we offer a session of our group swim lessons to get them involved early in their membership. For all adults we offer a one-on-one consultation to provide tips and feedback on their swim strokes as part of our “Elevate” integration program of new members.
Architecture & Design
Rudy Fabiano, AIA, an architect and CEO of Fabiano Designs, shares what he’s seeing in architecture and design trends.
5.Members use the entire club and notice details. Don’t just focus on the entry and allow the rest of the club design to be neglected or just be good enough. That strategy is not going to position your club as a market leader. From a design perspective, give as much thought to your free weight area as you do your lobby.
6.Quality matters. Low-quality materials and construction will be evident to members and prospects sooner than you think. Inferior materials will require much more maintenance over time. Build for the long term; use the best materials you can afford now, as materials or construction will never get cheaper later.
BONUS: If you can’t account for the efficiency of every square foot of your club including’ programming and workout spaces, social nodes, amenities, administrative or support areas, you are wasting money.
Cardio is a key part of every well-rounded exercise program. At times, members can stray away from cardio and view it as not fun. Gretchen Collins, the director of fitness at East Bank Club, shares two tips on how to get members moving.
7. Find a buddy. Cardio can be monotonous but being able to talk and laugh with a friend while doing it will make the time fly by.
8. Explore heart rate training. Train with a purpose and tailor your cardio for your own individual needs.
Cleaning & Sanitizing
When disinfecting your gym, consider following these three essential tips in the cleaning process from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
9. If using wipes, the surface should be wiped in the same direction to prevent contamination versus back and forth. Multiple wipes may need to be used. If utilizing a spray, the surface can simply be sprayed down.
10. When using shared portable equipment such as a foam roller or stability ball, it’s not uncommon for different individuals to touch the equipment’s surface. These objects may need to be disinfected several times a day.
11.There should be a continuous documentation log of cleaning practices to ensure all facility disinfecting is being accomplished daily.
According to Indeed, work culture is a collection of attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that make up the regular atmosphere in a work environment. It’s also often a deciding factor if staff members will stick around long term.
Mark Miller, the COO of Merritt Clubs, shares three tips on how to create a culture people want to be a part of:
12. Culture starts at the top. Clearly define purpose and values, how you behave as a leader, and model it. Culture is not what you say it is — it’s how you behave in it. Our behaviors and actions define our teams’ perceptions and truly make our culture what it is.
13. Staff onboarding sets the tone on how we do things. Most teams make mistakes in only teaching the task or technical skills of how the business works. It’s imperative you begin with how we act, behave, what our culture is and how it’s delivered daily.
14. “Inspect what you expect” is a famous management line, and it’s critical you do it with your culture. Do you performance-manage against it? Do you incentivize against it? Are your purpose and values what get recognized or is the one who brings in the most dollars? If you want to shape a culture you must feed it, water it, weed it and grow it. It must be the first and last thing you lead.
The Marketplace: CMS & Technology
15. Club Automation
Reaching your community with the right message at the right time has never been more important. Club Automation offers digital marketing and website services to drive leads, improve search rankings, automate communications and improve member retention. Club Automation’s expert team can help optimize your digital reach, leaving you free to focus on your club and members.
Create a business-empowering mobile experience. Create your own flexible, branded mobile app and discover the advantages of a customized and connected member journey. Get a complimentary consultation to see how ClubReady and myFitApp can enable you to accelerate your business goals from lead generation to launching your next location.
EGYM’s new innovation, Gameday, brings real variety to your club with a new and interactive workout experience designed to supplement the regular workouts of your members. The results of Gameday instantly transform the workout routine. With each Gameday, members receive results they can use to compete on their clubs’ leaderboard, AI-based workout recommendations and analytics about workout progress.
CAST, the SaaS CMS platform by Hapana, mixes virtual and in-club classes and content to create a hybrid fitness experience using your virtual gym app. Stream classes and events using popular tools like Airplay, and match the right content to the right user within a multi-tiered paywall system. Use smart content categorizing, sorting and tagging to create playlists or courses.
19. Jonas Fitness
Compete Club Management Software by Jonas Fitness is a comprehensive suite of tools that allows fitness, health and wellness clubs to reach, engage, service and retain members. With best-in-class 24/7/365 customer support, integrated billing, 99.9% system uptime, continual research and development, and over 40 API partner integrations, Compete is the obvious solution for your club.
Digitize your gym. myFitApp is an open, flexible fitness platform clubs use to strengthen their brand, retain members, acquire new ones and deliver digital fitness. With our own content management system, you can design your unique app in line with your brand and easily manage your own customer journeys.
21. Paramount Acceptance
Pulse from Paramount Acceptance is the gym management platform to manage your entire club. From your front desk to your back office, Pulse software has an array of features to elevate your gym. Paramount is also equipped with a full-service customer service department with over 6,000 positive reviews on Google. Contact us today to elevate your gym.
By-the-book solutions make it easier to book amenities the right way by integrating Radianse’s compliance-scheduling technology into your day-to-day operations for a more focused team dynamic.
Spivi Arena is an easy-to-implement, robust heart rate tracking system. Compatible with most wearables and smartwatches — including Apple and Samsung watches — it allows all members to track progress, reach milestones and win challenges.
24. Twin Oaks
Twin Oaks’ web-based software bolsters revenue, reduces costs and streamlines efficiency through features such as online joining, booking, account updater and returns management. Discover how to generate revenue and boost enrollments this summer with student specials and trial membership offers for guests and referrals. Start today and experience the difference with Twin Oaks.
The Uptivo solution for the combat world tracks the number, power and speed of left and right punches, creating involvement and competition. The solution is based on comfortable wrist sensors and tracks workouts in real-time, transmitting the data to the Uptivo receivers and allowing members to see their performance on the displays installed at the club.
Streamline operations, boost staff efficiency and delight members with Zenoti, the complete fitness software solution. Its easy-to-use, innovative features powered by artificial intelligence automate and simplify gym and studio business management, from marketing and new member acquisition to billing and collections.
The health and fitness industry is dedicated to learning how to help more people live healthier lives. In order to do this successfully, it’s important for those in the industry — regardless of their role — to seek and attend development and growth opportunities.
Here Kiley Mutschler, a regional manager at Active Wellness, shares the importance of continuing education.
27. Development and growth opportunities are contributing factors to why an employee stays with a company. In a leadership position, it’s our responsibility to help guide our teams to those opportunities and support their journey with development.
28. Remember that while industry specific certifications are wonderful, don’t be afraid to look outside the industry for continuing education opportunities as well.
29. Continuous learning is valuable regardless of level or position. It may even be more important for leaders to continue to develop as the landscape is always changing, and so are the people you’re leading.
Data and Security
In recent years, there’s been an uptick in customer concern over how data is being used and if information is protected. As an industry that stores valuable data on members, it’s vital to keep out hackers and ensure your members’ sense of security isn’t misplaced.
Here are two stats to consider on the topic:
30. The 2022 cybersecurity report from Gartner, a managing and consulting company, revealed 88% of executives now consider cybersecurity to be a direct threat to business operations rather than solely a technical IT problem.
31. Consumer interest in cybersecurity is growing. More and more people are asking what their risk exposure might be if they decide to use that company’s service or product. According to the latest research from Gartner, 56% of customers frequently express interest in the cybersecurity of the organizations they do business with.
Diversity Equity Inclusion
According to Deloitte, an international professional services network, 74% of millennial employees believe their organization is more innovative when it has a culture of inclusion, and 47% actively look for diversity and inclusion when sizing up potential employers. It’s clear more people are seeking diverse working environments in 2023 and beyond.
Michaela Brown, the group fitness manager at VIDA Fitness and chairwoman of the VIDA Diversity & Inclusion Board, shares three tips on how your facility can prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
32. Don’t be afraid to have tough conversations when it comes to DEI. Embrace the discomfort. Find common ground from differing perspectives and work together to create change.
33. Don’t just talk about DEI, be about DEI. Prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion first requires operators to seek the assistance of a knowledgeable and diverse team of DEI advisors. It ends with a commitment to giving more people a real, contributing seat at the decision-making table. This should be visible to the entire team.
34. Be loud and proud about DEI. Much of the work happens behind closed doors in private and group conversations. The buy-in from the community though happens out in the open. Intentionally hire to be visibly diverse. Show off your diversity in marketing campaigns. Talk about DEI all day, every day.
There are a plethora of fitness franchises available to purchase, but what should you consider before investing? Here, Brian Tietz, the president of franchise operations of the Americas at Lift Brands, shares what to consider:
35. Find a franchise you are passionate about. Clearly there are hundreds if not thousands of franchise options available for people to consider. A fitness franchise takes a certain kind of person — one that has a passion to serve others through the realm of health and fitness.
BONUS: Know the numbers. If you’re new to franchising it’s important to know the numbers around any franchise. For fitness franchises, understanding the unit level economics and business model are crucial to picking a franchise that’s right for you.
BONUS: Learn where others have failed. Operations are key to the success of any business, but in the fitness industry it can be either life or death. Understand what it takes to operate the business successfully by talking to some of the top franchisees within the organization. Getting validation from owners who are in the trenches is highly valuable.
Group fitness is a creative way for your members to build community within your facility and in return help retain them. Here, two industry experts share how you can increase Group X participation.
Victoria Tolbert-Ashley, the national director of group fitness at XSport.
36. Make group fitness an essential part of your business. The group experience should be presented to members as a must-experience component in their overall health and well-being you provide for their benefit. You offer a class for everybody and results for any and every goal members have.
37. Incentivize your group fitness community, members and instructors with special promotions, swag and recognition. Small strategic plans highlighting class engagement and results show the importance of your class service offering and make a group feel individualized. This will yield increased pride in the class space, member retention and revenue.
Janet Warner, the executive director of fitness services at The Alaska Club.
38. Communicate your schedule and keep it up to date. We have our schedule on our website, app and TVs in the club near each studio. Make sure all staff know where to access the schedule and have a brief description of each class which is key for front desk and membership staff. In addition to communicating the what and when, videos that show the who and how fun have been very successful for us.
39. Schedule classes in a pattern where members can take that class/workout style two to three times per week — Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays. Saturdays or Sundays can be the second or third option of the week for your mid-morning, noon time and evening people.
BONUS: Cross train instructors in other formats. We recently trained instructors of other formats in aqua class instruction. They love the group of people in aqua and they have been getting aqua people to take land classes — yoga, cycle, pilates and Zumba — and land-based class participants to jump in the pool for a workout.
BONUS: Build community. Make sure your instructors arrive ahead of time and are able to meet/greet and build the community within the class. We need socialization now more than ever. Going to a place where people know your name, are happy to see you, and ask about your kids or dog can be stronger for getting people into the club and the class. Of course, once they get their happy feeling from the class participation, they get a trifecta of social, sweat and endorphins.
Hiring has been a major struggle point for facilities across the country. Three industry experts share tips on best hiring practices.
Adrian Antigua, the general manager of Gainesville Health and Fitness.
40. Never lower your standards on what you are looking for in an employee no matter how desperate you are to bring someone on board. The risks and time involved with having the wrong person on the team far outweigh anything else.
41. Do something that puts people outside of their comfort zone. People can easily memorize scripts to your traditional questions, but putting them in a situation outside of their comfort zone allows you to see how they would react to things that happen in the moment. For us, it’s putting people through a high intensity workout.
41. Incorporate more than one person to do the interviewing of each applicant, and if one person is a no for that applicant, then unfortunately that person is a no all together. You have to be able to trust the instincts of your team.
Sarah Klebo, the director of human resources at Fitness Formula Clubs (FFC).
43. Move quickly. Keeping the momentum with a new applicant is key as it helps them stay engaged and excited. If you move too slowly, you’ll likely lose them to a different opportunity.
44. Communicate clearly. Once you’ve decided to hire the applicant, be sure to clearly communicate the start date, compensation, next steps, and to whom and where they report to on their first day.
BONUS: Keep it fun. Every new hire attends New Employee Orientation at our corporate office headquarters where they learn about FFC and our culture. We have snacks, beverages, exciting videos and sometimes a surprise appearance from our CEO.
From Lisa Owens, the assistant general manager at The Wave Aquatic and Fitness Center.
BONUS: Make sure your company culture and reputation are at the forefront of recruiting. Most candidates want to know what they are getting into before they apply and then again through the hiring process. Be transparent with candidates. They will appreciate it.
BONUS: Utilize your current staff for recruitment of new hires. Your employees are the best resource for recruits as they understand the culture and know who they would want to work with. Reward them well for a referral with a bonus or maybe even some PTO.
BONUS: Recruit and train internally before seeking external candidates. Investment and trust in your current staff is one of the biggest ways to keep company culture at a high level. They are already bought in, why not give them the chance to grow with the company? Once that’s done, then seek outside candidates for the remaining openings.
Recently Justin Drummond, the COO of Ohana Growth Partners, the franchise division of Planet Fitness, joined the Club Solutions Magazine Podcast to discuss the most important aspects of being a leader in the industry’s current environment. During the discussion, Drummond shared valuable leadership tips. Here are three takeaways:
45. Lead by example. No task is too small no matter what position you’re in. I always lend a helping hand or do the job because at the end of the day then anyone who works with me can’t say, “Well, Justin didn’t do that.”
46. Build relationships with the team members you have on board. It’s important to be genuine with them no matter where they are, what stage of their career they’re in or how they’re performing. People want to buy into you as a leader before they buy into anything you ask them to do.
47. Dive in. There’s a lot to learn. Go into it with servant leadership. Go into everyday thinking, “How can I be a servant to my team and members?” If you go into it with that mindset, that’s the best advice I can give.
Locker rooms are an essential part of every facility. It’s important to keep them clean, safe and up-to-date to wow your members.
Frank Lawrence, the CEO of Little Rock Athletic Club, shares from experience one tip on renovating locker rooms:
48. Ensure your lock combinations can be read without readers. Ours in the ladies’ locker room are impossible to read without young eyes. It’s something you’d never think about until they are installed and it’s too late.
Marketing is the process of creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients and partners. Here, two industry leaders share tips on the best marketing strategies.
Allison Rand, the vice president of marketing at YouFit Gyms.
49. Test and learn. A/B test over and over. Test and optimize creative offers and landing pages to improve your facility’s performance.
50. Ask questions. Agencies bring a wealth of knowledge, but if you don’t understand their strategy or rationale, lean in. Learn for yourself so you can make the best decisions for your brand.
51. Build the top of the funnel and focus on retargeting. Build out your email database from events, guest passes and contests. Make sure you target them with content-rich email campaigns that drive them down the funnel. Retarget them — and your other website guests who didn’t convert — with a solid offer to get them to join.
52. Try anything once. Don’t be afraid to make small investments in new marketing strategies. You never know what will make a big difference.
Kristin McConnell, the marketing director at The Atlantic Club.
53. Consumers sometimes feel overwhelmed within the online space. They are likely to spend more with brands they feel connected to. We have all seen how influencer marketing has skyrocketed. Consumers are having others take the guesswork out of purchasing. They want to know they made a sound purchase with a brand they trust.
54. Use social listening to optimize every aspect of your business. Social data will help strengthen your market position. Dig through the online chatter to find ways your business can be more efficient.
BONUS: Develop campaigns utilizing multiple channels. Channels are vehicles for distributing your messages. There are many digital channels you can incorporate into your campaigns such as podcasts, SEM, SEO, AI and educational webinars.
Everyone is seeking to attract the 80% of the population not using a fitness center. A great way to do that is through medical fitness programming and principles. Helping operators understand what that means and how to operate a profitable medical model is achievable.
Two industry experts share six tips on offering medical fitness programming at your facility.
Jeff Jeran, the corporate director of fitness services at Valley Health.
55. Hire highly qualified health and exercise professionals to work with and develop programs for higher-risk populations. Consider utilizing resources like the U.S. Registry of Exercise Professionals to find and verify these candidates.
56. Build trust with your local healthcare providers by establishing programs that address their patients’ chronic disease needs. Then document and communicate your program outcomes. Physicians are more comfortable referring their patients to a proven program than trying to sell a gym membership.
57. Leverage the framework of the medical fitness model provided by the Medical Fitness Association (MFA) from facility standards and guidelines, to benchmarking data and education and certification opportunities. The MFA offers a blueprint for successful implementation and resources for ongoing support.
Karen M. Raisch-Siegel, the executive director of LifeWorks of Southwest General.
58. In the future, medical fitness can be part of all fitness centers. The key will be to have educated and professional staff help clients. Fitness professionals need to know more about health issues and how exercise helps. The focus is shifting to inner health versus exterior look.
59. Fitness centers have the opportunity to provide specific programming for their communities. Focus on certain topics to target the various population segments that match your target audience. Examples of programming include Hypertension and Exercise, Prenatal Exercise, Strong Bones and More, Heart Strong, etc.
60. As we look to the future, fitness centers will need to demonstrate their impact on the population they served with measurable outcomes. Start now by keeping track of your data and record outcomes. Hopefully sooner than later we can use this for collaborations, reimbursements and/or other support.
Mental Health & Well-Being
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, one in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year. It’s now more important than ever to find ways to help people in your community improve their mental well-being as well as their physical health.
Here, Jacqueline Buchanan, the director of communications and wellness experience at In-Shape Health Clubs, shares more on In-Shape’s wellness programming:
Our members experience wellness throughout their time at In-Shape from the physical spaces within our clubs to the support we provide them outside the club. Depending on your size and member base, wellness programs can be anything from investing in new equipment like hot/cold therapy or compression to finding a knowledgeable coach to lead recovery sessions or wellness workshops. It could even look like wellness messaging on your in-club signage. Supporting our members’ physical, emotional and mental wellness was a goal of ours when we created our wellness program. The program entails:
61. Wellness Programming and Workshops. We created wellness-focused programming and workshops for our members, secured partnerships to round out our offering, and intentionally selected language and visuals for our external and internal communication with wellness top of mind. The topics vary each month and our workshops are led by our in-house wellness expert.
62. Wellness Spaces. We invested in purposeful recovery and relaxation spaces in our clubs. If you can devote space in your facility to recovery and wellness, it can serve as an excellent acquisition and retention tool. Many brands in our space are seeing new members joining just for the wellness amenities.
63. Wellness on a Budget. If your budget is smaller, you can incorporate wellness messaging into your in-club signage, or feature wellness-focused content on your blog, social media or in your emails. Don’t have a wellness expert? Reach out to your team members. You may be surprised at who has knowledge and passion in this area. Your group fitness instructors and yoga teachers are a good place to start.
Here, Chris Gallo, the vice president of sales at ClubReady shares two bonus tips on how clubs can leverage their mobile app.
Bonus: Your mobile playbook is the playbook. Mobile is the No. 1 platform for members and staff. Ensure you can 100% execute your playbook on mobile, including automated SMS and email communications, all your critical-to-staff tasks, and the ability to nurture prospects and turn leads into members.
Bonus: Your mobile app drives the brand. Client engagement has shifted from websites to mobile. Fortunately, modern apps don’t chain operators to preset basic functions and designs. Your mobile app should provide easy access to update designs and processes, issue challenges, etc. that are consistent with your goals and brand.
A 2021 report by Leisure-net Solutions, a provider of customer insight, business intelligence and consultation services to the cultural services, active leisure, and health and fitness industries, showed 44% of young adults prefer to exercise outdoors compared to 38% who prefer indoor exercise areas. The groups showing the strongest preference for being outdoors were college students and older adults seeking more physical activity. Outdoor fitness is a trend that is not going away.
Alan Leach, the CEO and director of sales and marketing at West Wood Clubs, Ireland, shares four tips on how to create outdoor spaces successfully.
64. We built our outdoor studios as a direct result of COVID-19. However, we made a decision to invest heavily in them. We didn’t want a Band-Aid to get us by during the pandemic. I could see the potential and decided to do it right — the best sound systems, lighting, stages and all new group cycling bikes. We also branded them OutFit Studios. We constantly advertise our outside studio.
65. The interest in our outdoor studios has not waned one bit. If anything, members want more classes and more offerings in these studios.
66. One of the biggest challenges is the weather. When it’s very cold outside, we have to move back indoors. But it’s a small problem as we have several group fitness studios at our clubs.
67. While it’s not a challenge for most West Wood Club locations, it is for a couple of our clubs that don’t have space for an outdoor area. For many of our competitors, space is at a premium.
Personal training is a great way to help your members achieve their fitness goals and to make a one-on-one connection with them. While the offering has been a mainstay in the industry, some clubs are seeing a drop in clients since the pandemic.
Raphael Konforti, the senior director of fitness for YouFit Gyms, shares four tips on how to get more people engaged in personal training.
68. Free workshops. Find topics your members and trainers are passionate about. Then set up free workshops led by trainers on topics like glute training, fat loss myths or recovery. Putting your trainers in front of members loads the top of the sales funnel with genuine relationships and value.
69. Deliver instant results. Weight loss isn’t instant but better movement is. Perform a movement assessment and identify one compensation to fix with self-myofascial release, stretching and activation. Only fix one side. After the retest, the difference — and results — from one side to another will be undeniable, like the value of PT.
70. Offer recovery sessions. To add revenue you either add more clients or current clients train more. Simple recovery sessions with assisted stretching, breathing and mobility leave clients energized and inspired for their next session. It’s a great way to attract fitness fanatics with improved results.
71. Give free, generic programs. Give members free workout programs that are generic. If they take you up on the offer, they see the value in a program and don’t have a plan. Now, show them the difference a customized program makes that factors in exercise history, injuries, body types and equipment preferences.
Clubs are constantly looking for new ways to drive revenue inside their facility. Here are two profit centers on the rise that clubs should consider:
72. IV therapy has been growing in popularity as a recovery option. IV offers hydration and vitamin infusion treatments that have various benefits like boosting the immune system, preventing future illness and slowing the effects of aging. While they do require nurses to administer, they can bring in new people to your facility.
73. Children and youth programs. According to The IHRSA Fitness Training Report, across all age groups those under 18 have the highest likelihood to engage in either personal or small group training. This can open up a new avenue and bring more families to your facility.
Recovery amenities have quickly become expected in health and fitness spaces. Here, two industry experts share what to consider when adding offerings into your space.
Ani Oksayan, the vice president of fitness at Chuze Fitness.
74. Currently, our recovery options are HydroMassage beds and lounge chairs, compression boots, percussive therapy, infrared and traditional saunas, steam rooms, pools and hot tubs, zero-gravity recliners, massage chairs, self myofascial release tools, and body composition scanning. All of these modalities are great options as they help to relax muscles, relieve soreness, promote oxygen distribution and blood circulation, assist in relieving soreness and cramps, and promote healing.
75. Through their use, members find themselves preventing delayed onset muscle soreness and improving their flexibility, metabolism and immune systems through better lymphatic flow resulting in increased drive to exercise and improved performance during their workouts. In addition to all of the physical benefits, other features include reduced stress, self care and mental detoxing. It’s clear why recovery amenities are in high demand.
Cher Harris, the general manager of The Houstonian Club.
76. Club operators can use recovery and biohacking modalities to bridge the gap between the fitness and wellness they offer and healthcare.
77. Partner with experts in recovery and biohacking to give your members the best this industry has to offer.
78. Survey your members to see what modalities they are already using outside of your club and increase the value of their membership by offering the same modalities in your facility.
In February 2023, industry experts gathered for the Thought Leaders panel, “Keeping New Members Engaged.” Following are the key takeaways and insights from the discussion.
79. Maria Gonzalez, the CEO of ClubFitness Greensboro, stressed the importance of thinking about the members and their journey, not the journey your business wants them to go on.
“We are in the people business,” said Gonzalez. “I think that’s one thing we have to always remember. How are we making our clubs a space where people can share with others and where people can meet other people? Yes, we can be their support system. Yes, we can be their accountability and offer programs, but at the end of the day they’re going to continue to come back because they’re going to be meeting their friends. Meet people where they are. Always think about them, not us and not what we want to do. Create an environment that’s a community.”
80. Additionally, Gonzalez added, “Get to know your members. Talk to your members. Make connections. Love them. Help them. Meet them where they are and let’s get more people moving. Go out into your communities to create connections outside of the four walls of your gyms.”
81. Jacob Thomas, the owner of Razor Sharp Fitness, emphasized the need of your staff making one-on-one connections with members, working to introduce them to other members who have similar goals or interests, and helping members find success whatever that means to them and their wellness journey.
“It’s not a one-stop-shop,” said Thomas. “It’s an opportunity for us to really find an engagement point with members. Also make sure we’re not pushing people down the journey we want them to go down, that we’re truly open to the idea of how they want to go through their journey.”
82. For Colleen Kennedy, the director of membership sales at The Houstonian Club, the best way to retain members is to help new members find their club within the club.
“I had a membership meeting with a young couple that just moved here,” said Kennedy. “They have small children, and they don’t know very many people in the area. And so, I’ve already got a plan for them to get connected with other moms and families. You’ve got to figure out when they come in and what they’re interested in. We try to just figure out exactly where they’ll fit, and then we try to help them fit there.”
83. Another key to retaining your members is to ensure you have a great culture and staff members who care.
“I always believe you have to take care of your people,” said Jersey Giambrone, the owner and founder of Fuel Bootcamp. “If you take care of your people, they will stay with you for a long period of time. I truly believe — instilling in your people, trusting the process — the more you step away and give them more responsibility, your business will thrive.”
From car break-ins and slips in the locker room to theft of personal belongings and active shooters, there are various risks your facility may have to navigate.
Here, Brian Rawlings, the vice president of FITLIFE, shares two tips on choosing the best risk management partner for your facility.
84. Risk management entails more than an insurance policy. Insurance is one mechanism of risk mitigation. A good risk management partner will also be an expert as to the trends associated with the fitness space and offer physical inspections and guidance as to the best practices.
85. Ask about an insurance carrier’s claims handling practices and protocols. Insurance really counts when there is a claim and how it’s handled is key to your business being taken care of.
Regardless of how much groundbreaking equipment and technology you have inside your facility, it doesn’t matter unless you have members to use it. Burch Valldejuli, a co-founder of mActivity, shares four tips on how to increase membership sales.
86. Create Raving Fans: The No. 1 way to increase sales is to create raving fans by over delivering on your services and creating relationships with your members. This way the gym sells itself. When we tour prospects instead of ‘feature bombing’ by pointing out the various pieces of equipment we say, “Our members really love, this.” Additionally when our members see us touring, they jump right in with a glowing comment. Looking at our data, we average 72% referrals through member referrals and word of mouth.
87. Building Relationships: Get to know your prospect as a person not just a potential member. Be inquisitive about more than just their fitness interests but about where they live and what they are interested in, such as hobbies or professional interests.
88. Host Events: Because we are in a residential neighborhood of a university town, we have many newcomers. Having a monthly member social where they may invite guests reinforces this and, like above, helps create raving fans.
89. Embrace the Silence: From the get-go, we decided not to have a dedicated sales team. Rather, we trained our desk staff in our soft-sell approach. After touring the prospect and showing them our membership options, we ask one simple question: “Which of these will work for you today?” Then, as difficult as it may be, embrace the silence while the prospect considers the question. All too often we rush to fill the void and by rushing the process lose the sale.
Small Group Training
Small group training allows the trainer to build a connection with each member while also giving proper attention to every participant’s safety and form. It’s another way to build connections and increase retention.
Lindsey Canty, the fitness director at Healthworks Coolidge Corner, shares five tips on how to increase small group training participation.
90. Offer Variety. Provide something for everyone by offering different formats and a variety of equipment options. Our programs include bootcamp style, treadmill intervals, barbell work, TRX, boxing, mobility and more. We use a wide range of equipment depending on the format to keep participants engaged and interested.
91. Show the Value. We offer small group training as a happy medium between group fitness and personal training. Our trainers lead a group of eight members, which allows for individual coaching and cueing.
92. Create Vommunity. Our program also focuses on using Myzone as a tool to enhance the sense of community.
93. Make it Exclusive. Have a dedicated small group training space in your club that is highly visible. This exclusive space will allow members and guests to feel the liveliness of the session even if they are not participating.
94. Try Before you Buy. Offer your members a complimentary session to try it out before committing.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is a great way to market and advertise your facility. However, it’s important you keep a pulse on the popular platforms, trending content and ever-changing algorithms.
Here, two industry experts share their best tips for being successful at social media marketing.
Paula Fraisse, the web content manager, social media manager and director of community outreach for Gainesville Health and Fitness.
95. Identify your goals and strategy first. Really understand what you’re trying to accomplish, how you will reach those goals and how you plan on measuring them. This will give you the roadmap you’ll need for effective marketing.
96. Use A/B testing, it’s a great tool for determining what content, call to action, etc. is resonating with your audience the best. Once you determine this, you’ll have better insight on what your audience likes and is looking for.
97. Use platforms differently. Knowing which social media platform gets the best engagement for different types of posts is crucial. For example, Instagram shows users Reels more than a regular photo post. But LinkedIn gets the best engagement on posts, which helps expand networks or strengthen your brand.
Bre Brimhall, the senior creative project manager of VASA Fitness.
98. Always be responsive and engaging with your online audience. If your brand responds to questions and engages, your community is more likely to engage with you because they had a positive experience with your brand.
99. Keep your content relatable to your audience. People tend to engage with content they are interested in or can personally relate to.
In the past three years there has been an increase in strength training participation. Anton Conlon, the CEO of Gold’s Gym El Paso, shares how to cater to this uptick.
100. Older people will be using strength training more regularly either through peer encouragement, doctor recommendation or one-on-one personal training to help with bone and muscle mass, the immune system, and increasing their metabolism. Some of these can be measured with body scan devices many gyms include now as a value-add or an upsell.
101. Recovery has been trending over the last couple of years and will continue trending as a complimentary service to strength training.
102. Making the above more accessible and non-threatening will be a trend, perhaps with smaller dedicated areas to get new members away from the main freeweight and deadlift areas used by seasoned lifters and body builders.
Recently, Michele Wong, the chief operating officer of Active Wellness, sat down with Club Solutions Magazine Podcast host Rachel Zabonick-Chonko to discuss what industry trends to keep an eye on in 2023.
Here are her thoughts on the increase of strength usage in facilities:
103. What’s driven people back into our facilities post-COVID is missing the equipment and valuing how much strength training is a part of the complete program. If you live in an area where you can be outside year round, programming around strength equipment is an important piece to get members back inside.
104. Strength training is really important to the active aging population. It helps with fall prevention and in aging well. Our members missed it and some came back for that reason, but others have received the message they can’t neglect that piece of an exercise program.
Virtual fitness was vital during shutdowns and is showing signs it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Here are two statistics to consider about the virtual fitness market:
105. According to The Business Research Company — a market intelligence firm providing customized research, syndicate reports and virtual teams — the global online/virtual fitness market grew from $15.65 billion in 2022 to $21.82 billion in 2023 at a compound annual growth rate of 39.4%.
106. Allied Market Research reported North America is dominating the online fitness market. In addition to this, the focus on precision medicine and personalized care is also increasing across the adult age group in North America, which in turn is driving the growth of the market. Also, the increasing adoption of augmented and virtual reality technology for workouts in this region further contributes toward the market growth.
Recent developments in technology have allowed for people to workout through virtual reality (VR). Here are two tips on getting started in a VR exercise from the publication Everyday Health:
107. The first step is buying your VR headset. Research the market to see which one will best fit your needs. Choose games your members will have fun playing. Some games you can play sports like tennis, fencing or boxing, while others are more like an adventure in which you’ll be dodging and moving your arms.
108. Start slow. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week. If you’re getting it via VR fitness, that could mean 30 minutes of game play five days a week. Just like any exercise, take rest days in between, especially if you’re feeling sore.