By Stacey Penney, MS, NASM-CPT, CES, PES, FNS
With Some Simple Planning You Can Be Ready for Success!
It’s hard to believe that 2014 is quickly coming to a close as we focus on the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and the eerie quiet that has replaced the normal buzz of peak training hours. Yet now is an ideal time to get ready for the upcoming January surge with existing clients setting new training goals and PRs, and potential clients ready to make their resolutions a reality. It’s a perfect time to polish the details of your 2015 goals, strategies and planning. Are you ready?
Have you set your goals for 2015? What is your focus for the first quarter?
Perhaps you’d like to focus on a new client demographic or fitness trend. We’ve heard over and over the growing numbers of young, and the not so young, are joining the fitness club membership ranks. With these new groups comes a new focus on how to best serve their needs. Will group personal training or sport camps become an area for expansion? From equipment needs, to possible facility redesign, to your own or your staff’s qualifications, these integral pieces need to be considered as a part of your grand plan.
Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions include getting fit, losing weight, eating healthier, and managing stress. These are definitely areas a well-honed personal trainer can shine and guide clients on their path to attaining their goals. Use these top resolutions and inspirational client success stories as a basis for your messaging to connect with potential new clients or gym members.
Consider what marketing strategies will best serve your goals. How will you reach these demographics to promote you services and standout from your competition? Do some brainstorming into what your target markets are reading, watching, listening to and where they go. Use these findings to select the advertising formats that will reach them the best, including social media, direct mail, community magazines and papers, even business partnerships and cross promotions.
Speaking of goals, the American Heart Association (AHA) launched a lofty goal of improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% by 2020. Reaching this goal includes an emphasis on behavior change as it relates to unhealthy behaviors and risk biomarkers for cardiovascular disease. These include, but aren’t limited to, physical inactivity, poor diet, obesity, high blood pressure, and adverse cholesterol profiles. All of these items can be positively impacted by exercise (and a well prepared and educated personal training team)! The framework initially focuses on behavior change counseling at a clinical level, but fitness professionals can definitely serve a vital role in supporting the AHA goals. Utilize the efforts of the AHA’s 2020 goals and connect with medical centers and physician groups to support the improvement of cardiovascular health in your community.
Team Strengths-Skills of the Players
If you own your own fitness facility or manage a team of personal trainers, use this slower time to evaluate the current strengths of your personal training team. Determine what specialties may already exist on your team that can be leveraged to enhance your membership base. Verify if your team’s primary personal trainer certifications are up-to-date. If they are close to expiration, has the required continuing education been completed? If not, this offers an exceptional opportunity to guide their education into areas that would meet your site’s upcoming needs.
Investing in your staff’s continuing education can show them that you are not only interested in your facility’s success, but in their personal success as well. If there are dollars or opportunities available for continuing education, use them! Whether selecting individual courses, sending trainers to workshops, or even hosting an educational event at your club, inspire continued learning. (For an economical consideration, reach out to the certification and education groups if your club has the space to host a workshop. Many times your staff can attend for free or at a deeply discounted rate in exchange for use of your site.) Have your trainers share what they’ve learned with the team if they’ve gone to a workshop or taken a course. This also gives them a chance to improve their presentation and communication skills. Maybe they can adapt what they’ve learned and offer member education sessions. Healthy eating and weight loss are always well attended.
Don’t neglect to review the status of your teams CPR/AED credentials to make sure everyone is current. There are at least 14 states that require healthclubs to have an AED program in place, along with staff trained in its proper use. This lifesaving skill is a standard for club operation, and with good reason. A recent report from the Journal of American College of Cardiology pointed out that cardiac arrest survival rates are higher at traditional exercise facilities versus other indoor venues. Take this one step further by including a review and practice of your clubs medical emergency response plan. By reviewing and practicing the plan, it will help your staff to overcome the potential fear or panic if they are faced with an actual medical emergency.
Think about your team. Would you regard them as a team striving to obtain a common goal with each member fully committed and supportive of each other? Or are they a group of individuals without a common goal, each solely worried about themselves and protecting their egos and paychecks? Don’t think that members or other clients don’t see (or hear about) these types of interactions. Integrate team-building activities into meetings and schedules, especially if you have personal trainers working as contractors who may not feel they are a true part of the team. There are many team building resources available; search online for activities including games and insightful personality assessments. If your team is very dysfunctional, consider bringing in a team building professional.
Plan Your Promotions
Only about 64% of resolutions are kept for a month. That means approximately a third of those new clients or members might be gone by early February. What can you do to keep them coming through your door, maintaining their membership, and purchasing additional services? Perhaps the end of January to Valentine’s Day would be an opportune time to launch personal training package promotions. Members are still committed to their resolutions, and the package deals may just be the answer to keeping their commitment going longer.
Consider the timing of referral promotions. Those 64% that are still committed are probably starting to glow with the results of their hard work, gaining the attention of coworkers, family and friends. Reward their commitment while also bringing in additional members.
After about six weeks (post-Valentines Day) into the new year, it may be time to evaluate if your one-on-one training clients are interested in group personal training or supplementary program options. (Be cognizant of how you promote group personal training programs. You’ll want to avoid cannibalizing one-on-one personal training and the individualized benefits it brings to clients.) Evaluate how many personal training sessions your typical client purchases. Clients may be cutting back on their one-on-one sessions because of economic reasons or they may feel that they have acquired enough fitness know-how to go it on their own for a while. Promoting group personal training to these clients can address the economic barrier and offer them a sense of independence with guidance since participants still receive the programming and some of the personal attention needed to keep them moving toward their goals. It is also a great way to enhance motivation and adherence amongst group members, especially when they have similar goals. Form training groups around common client goals, such as a spring break escape, wedding dress slim down, or marathon PRs. Incorporate goal specific education in the group training sessions, perhaps ways to manage sugar cravings or race day hydration strategies.
As you can see, there are multiple options to positively utilize this potentially slower time of year. Having your 2015 goals defined, with plans and resources in place, sets you, your club, and your personal training team up for success. Planning helps you to be prepared with solutions for the typical ebb and flow of membership cycles and to avoid the last minute reactionary responses. When the January spike in training sales hits, you and your training team will be ready to take clients to their goals and beyond.