By David Roddenberry
Many health clubs are increasingly adopting unconventional programmes to bolster their membership base and better motivate the marketplace to get fit, trim and healthy.
“Amid the growing rate of obesity, health clubs are continually challenged to drive new memberships and inspire current members to visit their facilities for workouts with some regularity to get, and keep, them on a healthy track,” notes Kelli Calabrese, international fitness, nutrition and lifestyle specialist twice named “Personal Trainer of the Year.” “I applaud the health club community for integrating new, exciting and innovative ways to attract and engage members to keep their fitness lifestyle fresh, fun and frequent…and even profitable!”
Here are a few cool new programmes now underway:
1. Whole-Life Training. Health club facilities are now looking beyond just the exercise component of fostering a healthy lifestyle. In addition to personal training staff, today’s progressive health clubs are boasting on-site nutritionists and other allied healthcare professionals like physical therapists and even psychologists. These value added services holistically address all areas of a member’s life that impact their overall wellbeing, health and happiness. Engaging and assisting members in this comprehensive way maximises member results, retention and referrals.
2. Kicking Members Out. For outdoor fitness, that is. Some health clubs are utilising their external real estate to promote fitness activities al fresco. Club owners are realising that many people get bored with the indoor offerings—even depressed or deterred—so they are offering running and cycling clubs, car park boot camps and spin classes, and more.
3. Weight Loss Wagering. Diet contests and weight loss betting programmes, like that offered by HealthyWage.com, are exploding in popularity accross the U.S. as both individuals and employee groups “diet for dollars.” More than 4,500 health clubs now serve as “weigh in locations” for HealthyWage.com contest participants, with many opting to also purchase a club membership as they shed pounds with their eye on the $10,000 team prize. This financial weight loss incentive approach is so effective, companies nationwide have integrated such a programme into their corporate wellness initiatives to benefit both employee groups and their own bottom line.
4. Clubs Go Retro. Nostalgia evokes emotion and emotion drives action. With this in mind throwback 80’s fitness classes, in which participants dress in period-inspired spandex and leg warmers and do aerobics to music by Michael Jackson, George Michael, and the like, are bringing the neon headband sporting, leotard-wearing enthusiasts to health clubs in droves. Originating in hipster ‘hoods like LA and NYC, this 80’s fitness craze is proving to be a fun, creative and, awesome way to attract new members – and keep current members coming back for more.
5. Social Media Stimulation. From small boutique gyms to large national chains, health clubs are tapping the social mediasphere in innovative ways to stay connected with current and prospective members. Informative and engaging Facebook fan pages rife with workout strategies, success stories and special product offers; up-to-the-minute Twitter announcements, training tips and topical tweet feeds; online virtual fitness coaching; un-lockable specials on Foursquare; VLOGs (video blogs) and a myriad of other social networking strategies are helping health club purveyors better connect with the marketplace—informing, motivating and helping them thwart those momentary chocolate cravings like never before.
6. Club Crawl. In an effort to get members integrated to all areas of the health club and its services, at the time of registration some clubs are giving new members a card with goals to complete for a prize. The goals can include trying fitness classes, completing a personal training session, meeting certain staff members and using specific areas of the fitness centre. This gives members the opportunity to experience all the club has to offer before getting pigeon-holed into only one or two areas like nautilus machines or heading right for the spin bike studio. The idea is that the more people the member meets and services they experience first hand, the more connected they will feel to the club and more likely they will be to try—or at least tell friends about—all of the club’s offerings.
7. Gamers Press Play! Video gamers take note: one private gym in Mountain View, California, Overtime Fitness Inc., has tailored its offerings to teenagers in a novel approach to address childhood obesity. This facility boasts an arcade filled with physical video games that require dancing, boxing, and jumping. Riders race against each other on stationary bikes networked to a server! Teen fitness has never been so fun – or effective at making health clubbing “cool!”
It’s time for fresh approaches, innovative thinking and even risk taking to trim waistlines. Novel health club programmes can tactically and effectively address obesity in new and compelling ways on the front line.
David Roddenberry is co-founder of HealthyWage, (www.HealthyWage.com), the only company that pays Americans cash to lose weight while offering social and expert-based support, tools and resources, and goal-setting and tracking technologies to address the obesity epidemic and improve collective health.