Is the Tough Mudder Tyler Durden Tough?

It seems like a simple question that should get a simple answer but as I’ve learned most things in life are a matter of perception. Click To Tweet

I’ve come to that moment in life where I’m just too happy and content, that means I’m missing something right?

I’ve competed in some sort of manner from T-Ball when I was 5 years old to MMA in my 30s.

Now I’m 41, happily married to a beautiful wife and have 2 amazing kids, life is too good for me right now.

Why is it when I’m at the best

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Group Training Effectiveness

Group training pilates class

Group training involves a fitness trainer from your gym leading a group of participants in their path of fitness. Participants, apart from group camaraderie, also benefit from access to a knowledgeable fitness professional at shared costs. These basic benefits of group training are making more and more fitness enthusiasts go for it in today’s world. It is therefore essential that gyms look at this trend and provide an avenue for such people in order to stay competitive in the fitness market. The effectiveness of group training is mainly because of the following factors:

 

Social interaction: For most people, workouts are means of relieving stress and doing them in groups can get them out of their daily blues. Group training gives clients the incentive of meeting new people with similar lifestyle and goals, and an opportunity to socialize with them during workouts. People find it easy to connect with like-minded people and make friends. Group training thus gives participants a reason to hit the gym everyday and become a part of the group for the long term.

 

Answerability: Once people become buddies in group training, they find it hard to skip a class. In other words, it prevents them from being couch potatoes as they are answerable to their gym buddies when they miss a class. The trainers should make this mutual responsibility a feature of the group training.

 

Financial viability: Most people who regularly come to the gym want a fitness trainer but usually cannot afford it. Group training eliminates this problem as the trainer’s fee is shared by a group of people. If your gym adopts this method, you are likely to widen your customer base as your clients may even bring along their buddies to be a part of the group.

 

Promotion of healthy competition: When people work in groups, they are likely to compare themselves with others and strive to do better than or at least be as good as them. This automatically sets fitness goals for the exercisers and they are very likely to be regular to the gym for this purpose.

 

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While there are many advantages of group training that must be brought to the notice of the potential clients, there are certain things that trainers must keep in mind too. Most people visualize a group of individuals working out aimlessly to loud music when they think of group exercises. Trainers must allay the apprehensions of such clients and convince them that they will get enough attention from the trainers during the exercise sessions.

Not all people are very sociable and can be introverts. But this does not mean they do not wish to avail the services of a trainer. Fitness trainers must keep this factor in mind and make sure that all participants feel comfortable. They must be proactive in understanding whether people are comfortable in the group setting. Some people take longer than others to break the ice but it is necessary that the trainers understand this.

 

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Group training expands the membership base of gyms as more people can afford the services of a trainer through it. The training also ensures more clients are retained because of the fact that they make gym buddies and find comfort in the environment.

The gym also tends to get a lot of mouth-to-mouth publicity as participants are likely to discuss the happenings at the gym beyond the gym premise. Such conversations can motivate others to be a part of the group too. Gyms can also target specific groups of people with common interests like pregnant women, postnatal women, and elderly.

 

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Bootcamp Fitness: Boom or Bust?

Military boots

The latest craze on the fitness scene, boot camps have been cropping up all over the country in recent years.  Based on military-style calisthenics, body-weight based strengthening exercises and various types of cardio, these exercise programs are usually an hour-long instructor-led group class most often held in the outdoors.  Some are based at established fitness centers, while many are run by private trainers at local parks and other public areas.

Although many facilities have not had great success with their boot camps, for various reasons, overall, boot camps have proven to be quite popular, and the idea appears to have great staying power.  Establishing a boot camp at your facility requires a lot of extra effort, but done correctly it can provide a lucrative stream of revenue for your business.  Just be sure to avoid these pitfalls.

 

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You need to make it clear from the very start that your boot camp is an extra program, outside of your regular gym membership.  You will need to hire special instructors, develop a specialized and intensive program, and even provide specialized equipment, so members should expect to pay an extra fee to participate.

A boot camp is not a class; it is an intensive program run over an established time frame, requiring regular commitment rather than just occasional participation.  If it is available as part of the regular membership, members will think they can just show up when they feel like it.  If they have to pay for a four week or eight week program, they will commit to showing up.

 

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While you want your regular members to see and appreciate what they’re missing, you need to establish your boot camp outside of the regular gym activities.  They need to be using different equipment, and doing different exercises.  If your boot camp needs to be held indoors during cold weather, consider holding it early in the morning before the gym opens for regular clientele, or in the evening after it is closed.

If your boot camp does end up in the gym at the same time as other members, try to keep your campers separate from the regular membership.  Have them wear a special boot camp tee shirt and make sure they stay together.  They can use the facilities during regularly scheduled bathroom and water breaks.  If you want make sure that paid bootcampers are the only ones participating, Insight’s access system can provide added security to this an any other additional programs or promotions that your facility has.

 

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The key to a successful boot camp is variety.  If someone wants to just use a bunch of weight machines they can go to the regular gym.  Provide specialized equipment like TRX suspension trainers to spice things up.  Use partner exercises, relay races, team competitions, circuit training and more to keep things exciting.  Keep in mind; this is a camp, not a regular class.  You’re supposed to inspire teamwork and camaraderie, and that’s what keeps people coming back!

 

Has bootcamp been a boom or bust for your fitness business? read more

Top 5 Most Popular Gym Equipment Pieces

dumbbell rack and stability ball

One of the problems that people face when opening a gym or health club is the plethora of equipment choices. Although there are new and interesting, like the shake weight , it is ideal to stick to the classics. Here are the top 5 popular equipment pieces that every gym should have.

Stability Ball

Although unassuming and seemingly simple, a stability ball is a vital equipment that should be present in every gym. There are a number of reasons why the stability ball is so popular in the gym. First, it can be used by anyone and everyone, irrespective of the level of fitness you possess. The exercises that can be done using the stability ball can range from very simple warm-up exercises to serious fat burning and strength or stability building exercises. Also, it can be used anywhere and is very easy to carry around as well. These are just some of the reasons why the stability ball is at the top of the popularity chart.

Dumbbell Rackdumbbell rack and stability ball

Just like a stability ball, the number of exercises that you can do with a rack of dumbbells is many. You can train for strength, stability, muscle mass, or even rehabilitate using dumbbells. The range of weights on the dumbbell rack should also be more as it will give you a choice of exercises. Also, you can train different parts of the body separately using dumbbells, like biceps, triceps, thighs, calves, chest, and others.

Treadmill

One of the best forms of exercise is running and the best place to do it in a gym is the treadmill. You can walk, jog, and run depending on your preference and the physical condition of your body. Modern-day treadmills have been improved and give you a range of settings that program the running schedule in such a way that you can burn fat, increase stamina, and strengthen your lower body. You can also elevate the ramp on which you run to increase the effect of running on your body and make you stronger.

Bench Press

A bench press can be used to strengthen the whole of your upper body if you know how to use it properly. There are different exercises that you can do using the bench press. Even the normal bench press affects your arms, chest, back, and sides. Also, you can vary the weight to ensure that all parts of your body get a proper workout. Most trainers recommend bench press to beginners also as it has a low risk of injury and maximum effect on the body. However, care must be taken by beginners to ensure that they get assistance while working out with the bench press for the first couple of weeks.

Elliptical Trainer

Just like a treadmill, an elliptical trainer is also a very popular piece of gym equipment for the simple reason that it can be used by anyone and everyone. The arms, upper body, and lower body get a good workout from exercising on the elliptical trainer. Also, the exercise setting gives you a comprehensive cardiovascular workout if not anything else.

 

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5 Quirky Personalities You Are Likely to Encounter at the Gym

crazy gym stalker

Hitting the gym has its per-requisites. There are a few people to look out for, who may interrupt your workout routine. Here you will find some methods by which you may spot them, and more importantly how to avoid them.

The Beefy Guy in Tights

Some people love to show off their bodies. They may go to the extent of wearing clothes too small for them. The entire purpose for the clothes is to catch your attention, which they will successfully do. Spotting them is not the problem. Unfortunately, this category of people also will try to chat you up.

Avoid small talk, bring your iPod and headset, and pretend you are very particular and focused about your workout routine. If they come to flaunt their muscles right next to you, completely ignore them. If they persist, tell them politely that you are on a “tight” schedule and do so with a straight face.  Although these people are not the best at taking hints, they will learn that you are not interested soon enough.

The Gym Freak

This is the best of the lot. These personality types are so involved in their exercise that they seem to have blinders on. You can usually spot them because the majority seem to endorse major sports companies by wearing branded sports apparel from their socks to their sweat-bands.

Also, these pervasive personality types seem to hog the workout machinery. They jump from machine to machine and behave as if you are wasting your time when you are using the equipment. If their routine needs the treadmill when you are using it, they stand right beside you and start running on the spot. To avoid them, try and follow their routine by a full set behind their last set.  If this doesn’t work then change your timing and stay an arms length behind.

The Workaholic Supposedly Working Out

Unfortunately, many people bring their mobile phones with them to the gym. Usually it is businessmen, who may end up shouting over the phone and disturb your exercise routine. Again, the solution is music. Never forget to take your i-pod or headphones when you go to the gym. More often than not, the solution to a productive workout session is the music.

If you are the type of person who loses their temper easily, then try and use that adrenaline to push yourself further in your workout. If you find it unbearable to have these businessmen conducting business while working out.

The Pesky Stalkercrazy gym stalker

Most the time, these types are guys, however, there has been the occasional lady who seem to get bent out of shape when Hugh Grant is in the house.  Regardless, the guy or girl, seems to end up in the gym only when you are present, or continuously glance at you through the mirror.  Having a stalker is one of the biggest reasons for people discontinuing their gym presence. What is worse is that they try to make small talk whenever possible, and seem to run into you on the way in and out of the gym quite often.

The concern is when the stalker starts to ruin a perfectly good exercise plan. If possible, for women, join a gym that is for women only or has sections dedicated to women only. Alternatively, men do not have much of a respite and must confront the stalker or make them feel uncomfortable to get them to stop. Perhaps one way to do this is to ask loudly, why they are staring, in front of a few others to call them out.

Master Matilda

It is quite common to find bookworms sitting in gyms and reading. People come to the gym to exercise. When you are not allowed to do so because someone is sitting on an exercise bike and reading, something must be done. It is usually as simple as saying ‘excuse me’, and suggesting that you need to use the equipment. Be firm, and they’ll generally get discouraged from sitting around with a book in hand after a few times.

 

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What are other quirky gym personalities you have encountered?

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3 Out of the Ordinary but Effective Workout Classes

Aerial Yoga

There are many kinds of gym-going people in the world. Some people are ready to go break a sweat, and return to their routine lives after a good, sincere workout. The rest of us unfortunately comprise of people who ‘try to’, ‘want to’, and ‘occasionally’ go to the gym.

Well, it is always a great move to hit the gym, and it is never too late enroll in one either. However, the people who involve themselves in working out seriously can have the habit of trying new and some strange routines. You may find yourself in a fix about what kind of workout routine to start with when you ask around.

The out of the ordinary workout classes are the ones that may appear to supplement fun for exercising. What is special about them, however, is that they seem to work very effectively. Here are three types.

Tiring Trampolines

Designed to allow you to enjoy your workout session, this routine involves using trampolines for burning calories. Although some people may find this childish, that is what is so enjoyable about it! This exercise regime involves continuous workout for almost an hour, where you may be asked to dance, or jog on the trampoline among other exercise forms.

Integrating trampolines and cardio exercise, it is safe to say that you may lose up to 1,000 calories each session. It may be fun, but it is very hard work at the same time. It is important to know that if you are interested in maintaining body shape or muscle building, this kind of workout is not for you. This is for those who are interested mainly in cardio.

One specific trampoline class is called SkyRobics and can be found at Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Parks.

Workout Wheels

Some traditional gym instructors prefer not to use high-tech fitness equipment. Such instructors today may implement the usage of a tractor tire for workouts. A tractor tire has a great grip, and is usually almost shoulder height. These tires generally weigh about 500 pounds.

The regimes people follow while using tires are simple. One routine simply involves keeping the tire flat on its side, and then flipping it over to the other side. You may do this as many times as you can, or are instructed. Though it may not seem like much, you are effectively exercising your hamstrings, lower back, upper back, biceps, triceps, and core.

Other commonly found exercise routines involve a tractor tire is for working out your abs and arms by sledge hammer motion.  The tire can also be a great foundation for various step-ups. plank routines, and core stabilization exercises.

A tractor tire class can be taken if you are in the Johnston, RI area at Body Armour Fitness Kettlebell Gym!

Yoda Yoga

Aerial yoga or suspension yoga involves the use of silky slings or other type of fabric hung from the ceiling by which you exercise with. It integrates acrobatics, dance forms, and yoga in its routines, and helps in a full bodily workout.

This form of exercise can be practiced by people of all ages. The purpose of being upside-down is that the circulatory and nervous systems get refreshed when you do so. Also, this position allows for a high level of oxygen intake by the brain. A half hour session of aerial yoga per day, builds muscles and it helps in weight loss.

If you frequent beautiful San Diego like I do, stop by Studio Revolution for an Aerial Yoga Class!  Maybe we will meet there and hang out for a little  😉

Have You Tried Any of These Out of the Ordinary Workout Classes?

Although these workouts seem unconventional, their overall philosophy and reasoning seems to have a similar efficient impact that is not very different from a regular gym workout.  However, if you are getting bored with your normal gym routine, go out there and give something new a try!  Then don’t forget to report back here to let me know how you liked it and the results you saw and felt from it!

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This Month’s Buzz Words: “Small Group Training”

Buzz Thermometer with "hot topic" being the hottest temperature and the "huh?" being the lowest temperature

We all know that fitness plays a very important role in our daily lives. It helps to maintain our health and keeps our bodies immune to fight off diseases and illness. Physical fitness is important for those who are suffering from obesity and other weight related problems. Joining a health club is great way of losing weight and improving your health because health clubs specialize in providing the necessary training and weight reduction activities that will help you stay healthy and fit.

One recent trend that has started to build up a lot of buzz within the health club industry is the introduction of small group training programs or SGT for short. These training programs take in small groups of members and train them same way that they would normally for individual sessions. These groups generally vary between 3-8 members and the sessions last for about an hour depending on the personal trainer and group preferences.

As of yet, the majority of health clubs do not offer small group training programs yet. However, the buzz is, is that incorporating SGT into your health club business can be beneficial for both you as the business owner and for your members.

Small group training programs are motivating

Motivation is one of the keys to member retention. SGT programs are a very useful in motivating your club members that have been able to keep up with the momentum that they tried to manage on their own with individual personal training. People in groups tend to push themselves to work harder. The same is true when applying this known within the realm of fitness. People just act differently when they train in a group.

Take for example, training alone at home. It is so easy to give up or not push yourself to the max on your routine because there is no one there to compete with or to hold you accountable. You can gauge the difference even further once you join a health club. This brings out a little more motivation because you are around others doing similar activity. Now, when you are in the same exact setting performing the same exact exercise, you then undoubtedly see how your colleague is performing and your natural competition juices start flowing. The result, competition can bring out the best performances one can offer.

Another way to look at motivation, and hence retention, is through the lens of camaraderie. For example, some of the training programs can be intense and rigorous and the trainer may not be able to assist the member at all times during the routine. This is where having other participating members’ becomes very handy, literally. If all participating SGT members are going through the same difficult routine but one maybe struggling more than the others, an extra helping hand or direction from another participating member builds up psychological wellness through camaraderie. This camaraderie among the members can greatly enhance their overall workout experience.

It is highly economical

One of the biggest advantages of SGT is the fact that the member can save more than an individual personal training program. Health clubs that provide SGT programs charge lower rates per person than individual training. This makes it more economical for both the club and its members.

These training programs are charged based on the number of participants in the group. The charges for these groups are divided over each participant which reduce the cost per person. For example, instead of paying $60 for a personal trainer, you can pay $20 for a small group of 3 participants which is far more economical for the member.

It is also beneficial to the health clubs as it is more likely that the club will be able to secure this revenue more easily than trying to sell an individual training package.
This will lead to more profit for your health club! With the number of people becoming more aware of small group training, the buzz will definitely spread and in turn, bring in more members wanting to try the next great fitness trend.

Get your club buzzing today by incorporating SGT programs into your business model!

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Topics for Discussion:

Does your health club have SGT programs?

What has been member feedback for those who have used SGT? read more

The Pains and Gains of Drills and Skills: Why Gyms & Personal Trainers Should Utilize Outdoor Obstacle Courses

View of muddy runner shoes, standing in the mud

All personal trainers are fully cognizant of the benefits of taking the workout of their clients outdoors. The advantages go much beyond just the fitness objectives. When exercising outdoors, people are benefited by both physiological as well as psychological gains. This fact can be extolled by all fitness instructors in the world.

The makeup of outdoor training programs has evolved to such a state that obstacle schedules have become regular affairs now. Clients look forward to fun obstacle races that help them combine their strength and endurance levels. Many have testified that the experience is a rich and an amazing one. Personal trainers are busy setting up schedules and incorporating terrains like beaches, deserts and mountains for their obstacle courses as they know that it is a great method to challenge the body and refresh the mind to new levels.

Setting up Beach Obstacle Courses

This can be done in an elementary way. All that is needed are a stick and a shovel to create an exercise and fun routine on the beach as an activity schedule for clients. A winding line in the sand could be drawn with a stick to create a path for people to follow. The shovels are used to make ditches and gullies along this path for people to jump over. The next hurdle comes in the shape of mounds for people to climb over.
These activities are also popularly known as Outdoor Cardio. The outdoors is transformed into interesting playgrounds. By the time the people are through with the obstacle course, their hearts are fully charged up, making these courses as motivated and inspired fitness achievement objectives.
The course targets all the core muscle groups as the muscles offer a good base for movement, linking the lower body movements to those of the upper body and stabilizing the balance. It is difficult to move and react sharply if the core development is not adequate. There are many advantages that are linked with core conditioning and strengthening. It cannot be denied that a mid section that does not get proper balance often results in lower back pain. Appropriate posture can be maintained by strengthening of the core and reducing strain on the spine. The more stable the core becomes, the more powerful the movements will be for an athletic display. It will also help in correcting the imbalance in posture. Imbalance can lead sometimes to injury to lower back. The beach obstacle course can burn up the fat as people trundle outdoors.
Personal trainers can concentrate on more than one type of session to incorporate several levels of terrains and routes. Most trainers would like their clients to cut their morning caffeine and concentrate on pumping adrenaline outdoors instead.

Mud Runs in Desert Areas

Obstacle courses, particularly the mud runs are gaining popularity. They are pulling in a vast range of participants. Both personal trainers and their clients are capitalizing on such a growing trend by promoting profitable group training programs that are exclusively designed to help the clients get trained for different kinds of outdoor obstacle events in a year.
These desert obstacle courses look nothing less than the kinds of challenges that were faced only by soldiers erstwhile. Mud runsView of muddy runner shoes, standing in the mudare slowly but surely changing the whole concept of recreational fitness. Mud runs as obstacle courses demand aerobic endurance and plenty of muscular strength to work with high intensity. Clients, themselves, are valuing these types of exercises and physical activity to become a typical regimen of a healthy lifestyle for them. Most clients are beginning to pose such challenges to establish their demanding levels of fitness. Competing in mud runs and trying to finish challenging obstacle courses ends up providing a sense of accomplishment to them of such a kind that is not achieved by participating in mere power walks or marathon runs.

Mountainous Obstacle Courses

In the nineteen eighties, the fitness fad was the marathon race; the nineties saw a rise in triathlons; about a decade ago, it was team adventure races and today, it is obstacle course races that take you through mountainous terrains. It is not all drills and skills; most obstacle courses also encourage socializing and beer parties after the events. Bootcamp programs are also becoming popular day by day.

Developing a training program for a mountainous obstacle course requires participants to build up aerobic endurance. These activities require strength of the upper body to navigate successfully. High intensity interval training is an effective plan to do the preparations for the mountain obstacle course as it needs bursts of running with high intensity on steep slopes. There are games that involve suspension between trees where the clients stay securely clipped into a safety cable throughout the game event. The games also feature suspended bridges and swinging logs.

The bottom line is that the outdoor routines in the midst of trees and far from the urban office stress levels elevates the moods of people and reduces the tension and anxiety levels. This can be proved by the point that when a person exercises outside, there is lesser stress on the body and the heart rate also remains low than when he or she runs indoors, artificially on a treadmill at the same speed. Personal trainers get an opportunity to work the body of their clients in different ways than if they were working out in a gym. For example, when a person runs on a treadmill, the regimen is found to be stable and controllable. But outdoors, the same person will have to experience different surfaces, hills, grass, concrete and mud. All these things work the body up in different ways and make the person tougher and stronger.

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Topics for discussion:

Does your fitness business use outdoor obstacle courses?

What type of obstacle courses have you set up?

Have they been a success? read more

Gently Does It Wins The Race For Gym Text Campaigns

Gym woman smiling at receiving a text message and looking at her phone

Most people have some sort of mobile device connected to an SMS text-messaging network these days. That creates an opportunity for the enterprising fitness center owner to use text messages as another medium in their marketing strategy, with which to engage with gym members. The question is how does that fit into your marketing and how do you get the most out of it?

Is Texting The New Email Marketing?

As I’ve stated before, email marketing is a really powerful tool to increase your fitness center’s profitability. Health and fitness are such an important marketing demographic that, as an owner, it’s the competitive edge on the guys with the gym down the street that aren’t paying quite as close attention. And it works too!

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Best Types of Music to Play at the Gym

Music notes

As a gym owner, you would already know that the music you play at your gym defines the ambiance and affects the level of motivation for your members. With different personalities coming to your gym, you are probably having a hard time trying to keep everyone happy with the type of music you play. While hardcore bodybuilders are likely to prefer rock and heavy metal, others might be more comfortable listening to pop and blues. The choice of workout music can also differ a lot according to each type of exercise.

When deciding which music or radio station you should play throughout the gym, your safest bet at pleasing everyone is to take a poll. Every member can submit their vote on their favorite workout music genre. You can even try using the most voted genre for 2-3 months and then hold another poll for the next cycle. However, playing a uniform music throughout the gym may not be the best option especially if your gym offers a wide variety of exercises.

Music for Different Types of Exercises

If you have a dedicated room for each type of exercise in your gym, you can play a different kind of music in each room. This way, you can ensure that a majority of the gym members get optimum motivation through the music your play. Here are a few ideas:

 

• Endurance training – According to researchers at Brunel University, working out to the right music genre can result in a 15% increase in endurance. Since endurance training involves high intensity exercises, your gym members will benefit the most from music with 135 or more beats per minute. Choose fast tempo music genres such as techno, upbeat pop music, or hard rock. “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, “Applause” by Lady Gaga, “Lonely Boys” by The Black Keys, “The Fixer” by Pearl Jam, and “Everybody Talks” by Neon Trees are some of the popular options for endurance exercises.

 

• Strength training – For strength training exercises such as weight lifting, look for songs with repetitive rhythm and about 115 to 135 beats per minute. Try playing songs from artists like the Black Eyed Peas or AC/DC, as their music usually comes with repetitive tempo that is ideal for weightlifting and other strength building exercises. You can also try songs like “Appetite for Destruction” by Guns ‘N’ Roses, “Let it Go” by Dragonette, and “Feel so Close” by Calvin Harris.

 

• Balancing/stretching – Balancing exercises and other low-impact exercises require calm, soothing music with minimal or no vocals. This would include music with 90 to 115 beats per minute. Genres like rhythm and blues, alternative, indie rock, and soft rock are highly recommended for these exercises. Try “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons, “Come Together” by The Beatles, and “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap.

 

• Cardio – Like strength training exercises, cardio exercises are also effective with powerful, quick, and repetitive beats. You can find some of the best cardio workout songs in genres like pop and heavy metal. Try “Domino” by Jessie J and . Electronic dance music and pop remixes are also your ideal choice. “Nothing bu the Beat” by David Guetta and “Alive” by Daft Punk are great choices for this type of exercise.

 

• Swimming – Many gyms fail to play music in the area that needs it the most – the swimming pool. Playing the right music in the swimming area can minimize the distracting echo and noises to keep your gym members motivated. Try music with at least 90 beats per minute but don’t go over 130 bpm. Try “Titanium” by David Guetta and Sia or “Shake it out” by Florence and the Machine.

These are just some of the recommendations for the types of music you can play at your gym. Always remember to prioritize on the preferences of your gym members but make sure you still have a strong voice, so everything stays in order.

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Over to you…

How do you handle member requests for music genres?

What are some other good songs for each type of workout? read more

Spartan Up! Reading The Spartan Race Philosophy

Interview with Joe DeSena

The founder of the Spartan Race is releasing a book entitled “Spartan Up! You’ll Know At The Finish”.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, about Promotions That Take You to The Edge, I had the great privilege to meet the team behind Spartan Races a few weeks back. I feel extra-privileged that they have given me an advanced copy of Joe’s book! I even had the opportunity to put some questions to DeSena, about it. I was not disappointed and I’m excited to relate some of that here.

If you have heard of the Spartan Race then you know the awesome commitment and passion it gets from participants. If you’ve ever taken part in one of their events then you know the transformative power that comes from pushing to the absolute extreme. You know that just finishing is a huge achievement. It doesn’t matter if you come in first or five hours after the pack, you’ll find new levels of confidence and self-knowledge just by entering a Spartan Race.

Joe DeSena wrote Spartan Up! with Jeff O’Connell, who is a widely respected fitness writer. Together, they have written the story of how Spartan Races came to be and what went into the mind-set that caused it to come into existence. It tells the story of how Spartan became the transformative sensation that is reshaping the fitness world. At the same time, it lays out how the reader can apply the concepts at the core of the Spartan philosophy to their own life.

Reading Spartan Up! You’ll Know At The Finish Line

While Spartan Up! was co-authored by DeSena and O’Connell, it’s written from the perspective and in the voice of DeSena. It works well for it, as he clearly knows what he wants to say. My first impression from the book, and it’s pretty much true of the man himself, was that Joe DeSena doesn’t mess around. He gets straight into the facts of the business and uses colorful real-world examples to illustrate his influences and ideas.

DeSena is very direct, while writing at a high level. He lays out his philosophy using the Spartan Race as an example and metaphor of how, in his eyes, to live. It’s a visceral philosophy that’s simple but extreme, there are no half measures in Joe DeSena’s world. He breaks it down to simple concepts that strip away the abstract assumptions, complacency and babble of contemporary culture. These concepts form the Spartan way of living and competing.

In Spartan Up! DeSena exhorts the reader to get motivated and build their strength of will. The examples that it draws on are about people who have overcome extreme challenges and withering disadvantages to win and thrive in the most adverse circumstances. DeSena points out how people, who’ve faced the challenges of living in extreme deprivations, have been able to make do, even thrive and find happiness.

The Spartan Race is designed to make leaders and develop potential to an extreme level. I think the book captures that spirit very well, and I recommend it to you to read and put into practice. The kind of training that Spartan gives you is that you can deal with uncertainty and novel situations more than you think you can. This is the mindset that any entrepreneur needs to develop; for the owner of a fitness center, it’s doubly true.

Spartan Up! encourages and cultivates the kind of stamina, confidence and willpower that you’ll need to face the angriest customer or the most difficult and reluctant employee, without flinching. One of the skills that DeSena tries to instill in the reader, as in race participants, is the value of delayed gratification. These are all things that can make the difference between success and failure in such a competitive business as fitness.

A

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What Is Your Story?

A "prince frog" looking on an over-sized book that says, "Once Upon A Time."

Do you have a back story to how your business started? Do your employees know the why and what-for of the enterprise they work for? Employees need a story that they can focus on and a reason to identify with your small gym business. If that story is something that new employees can buy into, they will become a more effective part of your team more quickly.

Meaning is a higher human need that will override many failings. It help’s people understand what you’re trying to achieve and work harder to get you there. It frames the challenges and purpose that you’re pursuing. It’ll help your team understand the business.

Stories Build Teams

Now remember, you’re telling your company and business story for a reason. There are three things that you need to build in, to make it compelling. There has to be a reason or justification for starting the business. There has to be a struggle or threat to the existence of the business that you fought against or are determined to overcome. The third part is to explain how business answers the call and provides a result or solution to the problem.

I’m not going to repeat my story here; you can link to it and read it in full. But I’d like to use it to illustrate my point very briefly.

The Reason – I was asked to build a system to run 24-hour unattended fitness centers. It got off to a great start and showed lots of promise. That was the reason for Insight.

The Struggle – Putting it into practice, making it work and launching it as a business proved to be an epic struggle. For a while, it could have gone either way. There really was a danger because that’s what happens with a startup; you work all hours of the day and hang on while no one seems to appreciate the great value-proposition you offer.

The Result – With a lot of hard work we persevered and Insight is now working for more than a thousand customers. That number is increasing every day. It took the faith, conviction and passion of everybody involved but we pulled it off! Now we have an exciting and fun business that is winning friends and satisfied customers across the United States, Canada, Indonesia, and most recently, Ecuador.

What you know about a lot of organizations comes from the stories that have been told about them in the media. What you know about successful companies often comes from biographies of their founders. The best ones are where the founder tells their own story. For example, the way that Joe DeSena tells his story in his book SpartanUp!

Adopt A Story To Adapt A Culture

If you don’t do the telling, then your employees and members will tell each other a story that you don’t control. There’s always going to be chatter at the water cooler if you have more than two employees. The hazard of not having an official story of how the company started is that one will grow up by rumor and gossip.

Telling your story proactively will help you prevent the spread of rumors and help boost morale. The following three examples show how having a clearly articulated company back-story will make a significant difference and put you in better control:
• You’ve just taken over a facility that already has a team and culture in place and you need to take control.
• You’re starting a new business from scratch and you want to build the best culture from the start.
• You’ve just hired a new employee and you want to indoctrinate them into your culture.

It also helps to have a story that you can use for publicity, in your dealings with the media and any interested parties outside the gym. You certainly don’t want them making things up and sourcing your story from hearsay or third-party gossip. It also helps to have a story that you can include in press releases that announce new activities and events at your gym.

Telling my story has been a very effective way to connect with my team and my clients. When you put a human face on a business it helps people to align with your purpose, because it helps them know what that purpose is in the first place.

Source:

http://blogs.hbr.org/2008/02/aesop-inc-using-stories-to-per/

Over to you…

What’s your story?  How did you get involved in the fitness industry?  How did your fitness business get started? read more

Crunch Fitness Business Model

No Judgement - a gavel with an circle around it, crossing it out.

All Crunch and No Judgment

Every once in awhile I like to give a shout-out to a company that’s doing their own thing in the fitness industry and being rewarded for it with success. Crunch Fitness and their franchisees are a great example of exactly that. They have a business model that is unique and creative. I’m not suggesting that you should run out and get a Crunch Fitness franchise; I’m writing this out of interest and passion for the industry. I have no affiliation with Crunch Fitness or their franchisees.

The last review that I posted was for Planet Fitness and this is similar. Both gym companies fill a low cost big-box market space with a lean but friendly culture and philosophy. Crunch is the smaller of the two but they have a solid hold on their market sectors in the locations that they serve. Crunch Fitness has a mixed model of Owned and Franchise Gym locations. They have more than 200,000 members and counting, through locations in the United States and Australia.

If You Can Explain Yourself There You Can Do It Anywhere

People accuse New Yorkers of being jaded and hard to please. I have never found that to be the case. Yes, they do have certain expectations and they’re very quick on the uptake. The New York attitude is is smart and always looking for something new and creative. That’s the perfect environment to nurture innovative and unexpected new ways to do just about everything. That includes fitness.

New Yorkers want to be able to grasp a concept or business model fast. If you can’t explain it in a few words then they tend to lose interest. This is the home of the elevator pitch that you give the VP you just “happened” to meet in the lobby, on the way up to the forty-fifth floor. Crunch Fitness is kind-of like that and they have been coming up with catchy group activities since they planted their first roots in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan in 1989.

Fitness Fun And Judgment-Free Juxtapositions

I think those Big Apple roots explain the Crunch Fitness attitude to using creative combinations of activities that make a fusion of fitness with that which is intense and fun. If you stop to think that something is a bad idea before you try it then you won’t get anywhere and that is the source of the Crunch ethos of fun with no judgment. By being a bit quirky and innovative Crunch have created a niche for themselves that is both unexpected and repeatable.

Crunch Fitness invented classes such as Hip-Hop Aerobics and Co-Ed Wrestling that fuse fit and fun in unexpected ways. Some of the class names sound quirky. That is the reason they work. They’re creative, simple to grasp in a self-explanatory kind of way, and they make you do a double take when you hear them. You get the full range of equipment that you’d expect at a big-box gym, plus the obligatory classes, such as spinning, yoga and dance-based workouts. But with the twist of innovative recombinations and mixes of workout concepts.

Business Model Fusion

Fast forward from the start into the company’s third decade and you have an outfit that has changed ownership a few times but it’s settling in to a niche in the market. The prices are kept competitive and there are always lots of classes to choose from. From what I’ve seen there is high demand and a happy membership across most branches. They are still expanding and have a mix of company owned and franchised gyms. The culture and values promote a friendly non judgmental atmosphere. The also strive to provide a clean fitness space, which is easy to do and most appreciated by membership.

When I say that Crunch Fitness are all crunch and no judgment I do mean it in the best possible way. Their gyms are friendly and inexpensive places to workout. They are meeting places for classes that are fun and positive. A clean environment that where you can connect and get on track to make positive strides in fitness. What more could you want?

https://www.gyminsight.com/index.html

 

Sources:

http://www.crunch.com/about-us/history-and-philosophy/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crunch_Fitness
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet_fitness

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The Top Reasons Gyms Succeed

Nerd Businessman standing in front of a chalk board with Chalk Drawn Arm Muscles

A while back I wrote an article about the ten reasons new gyms fail. It was well received by the readers of Gym Insight and the discussion was very gratifying for me. But as a believer in fitness and getting results in a positive way I feel compelled to balance it out with an article about the positive side of gym startups and success. I admit that there is likely plenty of overlap between this and the previous article. These things are worth saying over and over again and doing more reps never hurt anybody.

Arm Yourself With The Most Important Reasons Gyms SucceedNerd Businessman standing in front of a chalk board with Chalk Drawn Arm Muscles

Have A Great Business Plan
The power of business plans is that they work whether you follow them or not. The difference is not following the plan to the letter but making the plan in the first place. In the military leaders understand that once the battle starts the plan goes out the window. In business, as in war, it is the discipline of making the plan and putting preparations in place that sets you up for success.

 

Give Your Finances The Full Attention They Require
I’m talking about capital here; funds that you can use to buy the right fitness equipment, create marketing and branding materials of all description, the capital to invest in refurbishment and fitting out of your gym before the launch. It never hurts to try to be frugal and spend as little as possible, which leads to my next point, but you have to find the capital to do the things that must be done to make a professional and clean environment. Skimping on the things that you truly need is not the same as bootstrapping up from the absolute minimum.

 

Make Sure You Have Deep Pockets
Having adequate capital and what Dave Ramsey would term a three month emergency fund is a deal maker or a deal breaker. It makes the difference between making payroll (or any other expense that can shut you down if you miss it) and locking up and walking away. Maybe this should have been the first point… and the second… and the third.

 

Select The Right Location
It doesn’t matter if all of the other local gyms are in the same location as the one you think is the right place then so be it. All it means is that you came to the same conclusion as your rivals. I would rather have a gym in the crowd in the right place than being alone in the wrong place. The trick is to have a competitive offering and great service.

 

Grow At A Rate You Can Handle
Expanding too rapidly has killed many ambitious small business operations. The two keys to this are that you want to have the cash flow to cover all of your costs when you expand and you need to have the human resources to cover the business with experienced staff. Of course, there is always the chance that taking a big risk will bring a big reward. But in my experience you are much more likely to crash and burn.

 

Keep Your Eye On The Competition
Understand the other gym’s business model to judge whether they really are competitors or in a niche that could some sort of alliance.

 

Keep An Eye On Your Employees
Make sure that you provide adequate supervision for your staff. It is very true that some people can work better unsupervised than others. Supervise your staff according to their needs and abilities.

 

Develop A Kick-Ass Marketing Campaign
Assuming all other things are equal, great marketing materials and presentations can set you head and shoulders above your nearest competitors. The headphone company Beats by Dre has been in the news lately, having been sold to Apple for $3 billion(those tech sales numbers always amaze me). Get creative in marketing your gym and get the most value out of the least capital.

 

Change With The Times
Understand that the times are changing mighty quickly these days. Try to keep up with the trends. This could be fun if you can find the time to go to conventions and other networking events that feature innovation.

 

Go Beyond A Mere Web Presence
Web presence is another mandatory resource these days. You need to have a unified web and mobile presence as the biggest area of growth in Internet access is predicted to be through tablets and other mobile operating systems.

 

Some Bonus Reasons Gyms Succeed
I had some great suggestions in response to the previous article that are worth mentioning. It was suggested in the comments that customer care and retention has to be number one; be passionate about the business you’re in; hire the right staff members and trainers. Finally, pick the right partners or none at all; that probably means not linking up with friends or family. The only reason to get into a partnership is if all parties contribute equal, unique skills and knowledge.

Over to you…

What are other reasons gyms succeed?

 

Sources:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/29/technology/apple-confirms-its-3-billion-deal-for-beats-electronics.html

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CrossFit Trend Or Fad

Crossfit Group Train Box Jumps

It seems like lately I can’t help but notice that workout spaces have been popping up with the name CrossFit displayed in bold letters across the front of the building. Gyms that offer this new workout system have been spreading like wildfire. Because it’s such a mixed and intense way of working out, CrossFit licensees, or affiliates as the brand calls them, need to be expert at fitness, personal training and injury prevention. It appears to present a huge opportunity for trainers to become owners. However, the question remains: Is it a true fitness trend or is it a fad that is just now peaking in popularity?

CrossFit values strength and endurance over leanness and helps athletes become bigger and more powerful. The system covers training and diet and also leverages group dynamics of bootcamp style workouts to generate the highest possible motivation levels and help the members push harder. There is a hazard of overtraining or training beyond your fitness level and it’s the responsibility of trainers to supervise, motivate and advise to get to the edge without going over it. Even so, there’s a lot of benefit to be gained from it and the brand is enjoying a huge burst of growth in attendance and popularity right now.

Becoming a CrossFit Affiliate

CrossFit came from the creativity and training ideas of a young gymnast in the mid 1990s. Greg Glassman’s regimen gave him such a decisive advantage in gymnastics competitions that he began training others. By 2000 he had a company up and running, with thirteen studios. By 2012 that had grown to around 4,000.

CrossFit affiliates have an average of 100 to 150 members per gym and charge rates of $150 to $200 per month per member. This gives it potential for a low six figure annual income, according to Amy Florence Fischbach of Club Industry. The current demand appears to be steady and the need for structure and supervision of the workout make this an opportunity for certified fitness trainers.

To make the leap into ownership and become an affiliate of CrossFit there’s an annual fee of $3,000. The required certification for trainers costs $1,000. The largest expense is the equipment, at around $50,000 capital investment to get started. For trainers who can handle the risk and sacrifice, it might be worth looking at signing up as a way to become a gym owner.

Delayed Feedback Can Be A Pain

It’s still early days for CrossFit. It may continue to revolutionize the industry. Or the accumulation of its flaws may take it out of favor. If they are done incorrectly or are beyond a member’s fitness range, there is a substantial risk posed by the intensity of the workout. CrossFit is not an activity for beginners and it needs to be properly supervised. The Military Times claims that physiotherapy has seen a boost due to injuries from this and similar bootcamp type systems such as P90X and Insanity.

I think at this point you say that it’s probably not a fad. However, if you do decide to go for it, you need to have a clear plan of how to get out, in case it all goes wrong. This is just good general business advice that any startup enterprise needs. Nobody wants to be 50K, or more, in the hole when the bottom drops out. If you can see a business model that works for you then, by all means, explore the possibilities. Just be prepared to change direction if more suitable alternatives appear later on.

CrossFit is gaining popularity because it gives you a really high-powered workout. The class atmosphere can be great as the focus is on the group and encourages participants to root for each other. If your market is open enough that you can get established as an owner and you can get past the initial investment and build a membership then go for it! This might be a good way for owners to expand and for trainers to become owners in the fitness industry. It’s just one way of many that you can grow a business. With good fortune, you might be able to expand into a full service fitness center from there.

https://www.gyminsight.com/index.html

 

Sources:

Origins of CrossFit: http://www.theboxmag.com/CrossFit-box-101/origins-of-CrossFit/
Fischbach, A 2012, ‘CrossFit’s Unconventional Workouts Attract Praise and Controversy’, Club Industry, 28, 7, pp. 10-14, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 2 May 2014.
CrossFit Games April 30th, 2014 Update on YouTube: http://youtu.be/0I8y0f_–mU
Are We Overdoing It?: 

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Las Vegas Athletic Club Versus Life Time Athletic

There’s no time like the present to prepare for storms on the horizon. I’m reminded about this because one of the big boys has just arrived in town in a big way. The launch of Life Time Athletic into the local Las Vegas market has been a wake-up call, announced with all of the glitz and fanfare people expect of this town. I would like to use it as an example of how established local gyms can respond effectively to big-box corporate competition.

The Las Vegas Athletic Club Value Proposition

When the big national or multi-national brands move in, you are either going to fight based on price point or value proposition. You have to differentiate yourself from the competition by focusing on and promoting the things that you have that are unique or proprietary.

Ultimately it will likely be a combination of price and service that wins the day. The top end of the market will skim off the most hardcore workout fanatics, and families that can afford the best. That leaves a healthy chunk in the middle of the market, where consumers watch their budget but value fitness and make it a priority over other activities.

Las Vegas Athletic Club (LVAC) exploits the home-court advantage and loyalty of their members, of which they currently have a little over 20,000. LVAC was formed in 1977 and has been under the current ownership since 1991, they now haves six locations around town.

LVAC can compete with the national chains on price as well as their large clean and modern facilities that are well equipped. LVAC has a long list of positive reviews on Yelp.com, which indicates that its local reputation is an asset. It is a 24-hour operation, in the low $20 range with a 26-month contract, as of this writing. Life Time Athletic is more expensive at around five times the price of LVAC for monthly memberships.

LVAC also takes a page out of the playbooks of some of the higher priced gyms by offering a choice of classes that they can upsell to members for additional fees. CrossFit gyms charge more than $200 per month and attract dedicated gym users who want to train hard and have intense peer pressure for support. LVAC offers a full range of high intensity classes that appeal to the dedicated member on a budget.

The Corporate Achilles Heel

Apparently Life Time Athletic does a great job of providing clean well-equipped gyms. They have a high monthly membership fee but additional classes and optional extras are priced in addition to it. There are always going to be some members who will pay the premium price for premium service. The best way to compete as a small gym is to provide premium service at a moderate price, in the same way as LVAC.

Life Time Athletic is a public company so you can get some insight into the finances and it looks like they have peaked. The numbers show that in spite of the growth in the number of locations the membership is not growing as fast.

The secret weakness of the big-box corporate gyms is that they rely on their brands but they have huge overhead costs to pay. As long as you provide professional service and clean modern facilities you should be able to compete effectively. LVAC are easily able to compete with a giant moving in to the neighborhood. That should be encouraging to all of the independent gym owners out there.

Fighting The Good Fight

The big-box national and multi-national brands are a fact of life that you have to deal with. If you don’t have to compete directly with them, yet you may find that you may have to do so unexpectedly some time soon. Local companies can compete effectively like Las Vegas Athletic Club does here.

Lower price points, combined with great value and innovative thinking, will mean that you are more of a threat to them than they are to you. Just make sure that, in the nicest possible way, you are prepared to fight for your members, have contingencies and be smarter than the big corporations can ever be.

https://www.gyminsight.com/index.html

 

Bibliography

Las Vegas Athletic Clubs. Las Vegas Athletic Clubs. https://www.linkedin.com/company/las-vegas-athletic-clubs. 2014. (accessed July 21, 2014).

Lax, Rick. Workouts Getting Stale? Find Your Perfect Gym. April 11, 2012. http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/apr/11/five-gyms/ (accessed July 21, 2014).

O’Rourke, Bryan K. Differentiation Strategies For Health Club Competitors. January 4, 2011. http://www.bryankorourke.com/journal/2011/1/4/differentiation-strategies-for-health-club-competitors.html (accessed July 21, 2014).

Robison, Jennifer. Vegas Fitness Industry Is Bulking Up. July 18, 2014. http://www.reviewjournal.com/life/health/vegas-fitness-industry-bulking (accessed July 21, 2014). read more

Building Strong Reputation Foundations From Membership Testimonials

Taking Your Reputation Forward By Asking For Testimonials

If you have a system that currently gets testimonials and positive reviews from your membership that is a gift! If you can get testimonials easily, you’re golden. If not, join the club! It’s not usually easy to elicit praise from customers on the record, even when they are completely happy with your service. The secret is to ask, and to ask at the right time.

Two Words Explain Why Customer Testimonials Work

So, the question is: What do testimonials matter? Getting testimonials and positive reviews from your membership is worth a lot of advertising. That’s because of the way that consumers judge the word of third party opinions. The concept in play is something called social proof. It is the natural human tendency to follow the actions of others, the instinct to copy.

Have you ever had a choice of restaurants, one busy and the other empty, and instinctively felt drawn to dine at the one that was busier? That is social proof. It’s one of those things that have been used by marketers for many years. It is the reason fashions catch on and why pedestrians cross against the light, following the person who impatiently stepped off the curb first.

Even if members are happy with you all the time, they’ll be much more willing when they feel good because they just hit a challenging fitness target. If you have personally trained clients successfully, you’ll know that there is a point at which they experience a peak state of satisfaction with their results. That is the time to ask, in a friendly and respectful way. In fact this is easier to judge in our industry than in others. If you have been working with a client or they happen to mention at the front desk that they are thrilled with the results those are the times to ask.

Finessing The Upside

Share the victories and handle the challenges in private. Once again, it’s like you have to be like a swan on a river, apparently coasting along while paddling furiously below the waterline. Testimonials must be handled in an authentic way that doesn’t undermine their value but at the same time you share in the victory and do the hard things out of sight.

Your front desk staff should be alert for the right time and if they can secure a short written statement from a member they should be just as eligible for a reward as the training staff. Be careful that it doesn’t become a competition, where trainers and desk staff become adversaries. Remember, they’re doing your marketing work for you so even if you have to double up on the bonuses you’re paying to encourage teamwork; try to keep the dynamics of the incentives positive.

It might be that the trainer put the thought in the customer’s mind, and the client then returned and innocently mentions it at the front desk. Conflicting incentives are a dangerously effective way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory every time.

Incentivize Your Staff

When a staff member brings one in you have the perfect opportunity to verify it by approaching the customer to personally thank them. Once you do confirm it make sure you follow through and give out the reward, what ever it may be, in a timely manor. Staff members also appreciate it when you recognize them for having gotten the testimonial. This is another case where social proof can be won by making an example of desired behavior.

The Practical Side Of Testimonials

How can you determine the value of a testimonial? There is a value based on the publicity and social proof that good testimonials can give. If you have an explicit marketing budget, and you should, assume that the customer who gave you the review or testimonial is the ideal customer. Then you can match the testimonial to the cost of gaining one ideal customer.

The fact is that small successes can be multiplied and major successes can be celebrated. After all, most people are happy for the success of other, especially in the fitness profession. The best part is that if you manage the good times properly they are circular; good feelings lead to good results, which in turn lead to feelings of well-being. This applies for customers and staff in equal portions.

https://www.gyminsight.com/index.html

 

Bibliography

Fagan, Lawrence. How Health Club Management is Like a Swan on a River. https://blog.gyminsight.com/759-how-health-club-management-is-like-a-swan-on-a-river/ (accessed November 16, 2014).

Robbins, Anthony. Awaken The Giant Within. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1991. read more

The Gift Of Membership And Other Gift Card Things

There are lots of interesting ways to do promotions. Once again, with the holidays upon us, I think it’s time to take another look. One of the most accessible is selling gift cards as part of your retail operation. Even if it means just a desktop display at your reception you can boost your return on investment by offering this popular, high margin product to your membership and the general public.

Promotions With Gift Cards

  • Sell gift cards in your gym
  • Sell gift cards at the local sporting goods store
  • Distribute them through your trainers

 

There is a reason that you see so many different types of gift cards at the grocery and drug store checkout. Consumers love them. People like to give and receive them. They are inexpensive advertising. Once you have mastered the process behind this stream of income and it’s paying for itself you might consider using it for promotions and marketing in more creative ways.

Apart from putting them on a shelf in your merchandise section you can sell them at a discount to businesses such as locally owned sporting goods stores. You’ll be getting cash up front and it brings people in so you can help them figure out what they really need.

Alternatively, offer the cards on consignment; give them out with an agreement to share the proceeds and collect the leftovers the next month, along with your share of the revenue. You can do the same with your associated trainers and local studios that specialize in such things as yoga and boxing. It helps your peers because they can provide expanded service, it helps you by bringing customers to your door.

The Good Stuff

  • Data, information and numbers
  • Public Relations and word of mouth
  • To sell guests anything

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What Is The Deal With Google These Days?

You Cannot Avoid The Google

There are so many things a small gym or fitness center owner needs to be aware of, most of which are not directly related to the gym business. Hopefully, articles such as this one will help you to keep up to date and informed about the state of the industry. I have some pretty good sources on the inside of the tech industry and I like to think that I can help gym owners learn what they need to know. So, here is a quick overview of what is in the works and what we are going to be dealing with sooner than you might expect.

The Pursuit Of Authentic Search

It all comes back to search and Google has the objective of improving it to the point that the absolute best result for what you want will appear, as if by magic, every time you search. This is a stated aim in the company’s mission statement. Essentially, the point is to create a search for the authentic search engine results page.

Google may be at the top of the pile right now but like most smart tech companies they realize that it can change overnight. They are pinning their hopes on the belief that the best search result is the most authentic. That is what most people are looking for: We want what we want without being manipulated or distracted by someone’s agenda.

The really clever part about it is the way that Google and the rest of the companies on the leading edge are going about it. They are looking at the associations between what searchers are seeking and the common traits and meaning behind it. Keywords don’t tell that much about the context of the search it’s what goes on in between. A keyword index is just a big list, like an extended dictionary.

The future of search lies in the knowledge that surrounds the keywords and what is really needed. That forms something called a knowledge base. A thing I am proud to say that Insight is developing right here, relating to our software. That’s not so impressive in itself (but hopefully useful all the same) it’s a fundamental requirement for the service moving forward and we are doing everything we can to keep our clients supported with the best available service.

When Everyone Has A Knowledge Base Google Wants A Knowledge Vault

Google has begun adding information from its own knowledge base to the search results that they post. First you will find that it responds better to natural language questioning, you can even speak your question, given the right prompt. Presently, most of the information in Google’s knowledge base has been collected and aggregated by humans.

They’re developing a machine-based advanced version that they call Knowledge Vault, which uses logic and diverse sources including the existing Google knowledge base to match up search and learn the associations and connections contained within the data, without human help.

The force that’s driving this is the competition in consumer markets. If a company isn’t prepared in advance of a customer making a purchase they will lose out to the one that’s anticipated the customers next move before even the customer knows they are going to decide to buy. When it comes to big-ticket items such as cars this is where the state-of-the-art is headed very fast.

This will also spill over into the marketing of gyms and fitness studios. I am confident that smart gym owners will be able to fight back against the big box chains and franchises. The big guys can throw money at the problem but there are thousands of start-ups out there that are likely to disrupt the status quo. Gym Insight will be right here to pass along the latest tips and hints to help you out.

The Solution Is Simple When You Know What To Share

So, the thing to focus on in your blog, website and social media offerings is the content. Don’t worry about the keywords or the format so much as just attempting to concisely express the point you want to make. For a gym owner that is likely to be a discussion about the services, facilities and knowledge you can offer. The way that things are moving forward the searchers will find you because of the quality and authority of your offerings. Just like the business model for your gym the most important thing to offer is authentic service.

https://www.gyminsight.com/index.html

 

Bibliography

Google. Our Products And Services. https://www.google.com/intl/en/about/company/products/ (accessed December 1, 2014).

Hodson, Hal. Google’s fact-checking bots build vast knowledge bank. August 20, 2014. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22329832.700-googles-factchecking-bots-build-vast-knowledge-bank.html#.VCSKWildXBd (accessed December 1, 2014). read more

Standing Up To The Big Boys

Because The Bigger They Are…

As the big guys get bigger, and keep pouring cash into their fitness center locations, you might think that they would be impossible to beat. It’s just a fact that large corporations have all the money and other financial resources at their disposal that anyone could wish for. That does not mean they have a monopoly on innovation or competitiveness. The independent gym owner can still do much to fight back effectively because having capital resources is only part of the equation.

You have to have a human side that doesn’t crush customers in the process of daily operations. That is problematic with large corporations because of the abstract metrics available to the decision-makers and pressure for blame avoidance at the lower levels. There are plenty of resources that help to give the advantage back to locally owned small gym companies, in opposition to the big box franchises. Many are free or inexpensive, or just require a little bit of lateral thinking to your multiply effectiveness.

Ivory Towers And The Blame Avoidance Game

The weakness that large companies have in this area is that decisions are often made at such a high level that executives are looking at abstract data and making policy decisions by the numbers. Without realizing it, they are causing unintended consequences down at the membership level. An example is where a package deal is split up or changed because the numbers say that there is a more profitable way.

Somehow the charges to clients get duplicated so they are double charged and then, when the member calls to investigate and fix the problem, no one is willing to take responsibility because it puts them under the spotlight in management reports. There are thousands of variations on this theme as big companies find it all too easy to keep their employees nervous and afraid of rocking the corporate boat. The source of this kind of pathology is, as companies scale up, they have to add layers between the decision makers and those who are most likely to be impacted by them.

The Ultimate Resources

An attitude of discovery and exploration is something that the twenty-first century demands of everyone. When you engage your curiosity to find out what is out there two things happen: You discover the joy of finding things out and you find out there are a lot of free and inexpensive resources available that will give you the leverage you need to build a place in the market. This attitude will serve you well these days because whatever facts and skills you learn as part of your formal education are likely to be obsolete by the time you know what you want to do with them.

Disruptive technologies are making it easier for the little guys to compete. But you have to be able to recognize opportunities when they appear. This doesn’t apply just to small business or gym management, they apply to every aspect of our lives in the modern era and we should be teaching children to be creative, curious, and comfortable with complexity. In this case it means always be on the lookout for new apps and trends to jump on and drive your business.

Building Your Business On The Right Software Platform

The final point I would like to make here is that Gym Insight gym management software tools are designed from the ground up to be exactly the kind of application suite that owners and managers need for any small gym situation. Gym Insight will address the issues of customer service and scheduling that could easily cause chaos. It is also easy to learn, and adapt to your gym’s particular case.

We have years of experience now, helping customers of all sizes and gym types. I developed this system as a solution to my own situation so I know what it is to struggle to bootstrap your way up from the bare bones of a business idea. My knocks and hard lessons are there to help you get through it more easily. If I had been able to sign up for software like Insight it would have saved a lot of time and energy in the process. The good thing is that extra work is now saved for everyone who has the chance to save time and money because of that long arduous path to delivering the final product.

https://www.gyminsight.com/index.html

 

Bibliography

Richardson, Adam. Where No Child Left Behind Went Wrong. 17 October 2011. https://hbr.org/2011/10/where-no-child-left-behind-wen (accessed Jaunary 12, 2015). read more

Funding Your Gym The Silicon Valley Way

Stages Of Building Your Empire

The readers of Gym Insight are a pretty diverse group of people; some have aspirations to gym ownership and others are already there. So let’s look at one of the sexiest ways to get business funding. This is how the tech startups go about bootstrapping up from nothing and how the process can be applied to your situation. The levels of investment and startup success that have come from the tech industry works in stages as follows:

  1. Seed Money from your own pocket
  2. Friends and Family investment from

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Podcasts For Gym Owners And By Them Too

Sharing The Conversation With Podcasting

When you own a twenty-first century gym you really should support it with all the up-to-date media resources you can get. In my opinion, using the available tools of the Internet is the best way you can leverage even the leanest budget; many of them for free or less than the cost of an ad in the Yellow Pages.

Podcasting is one of the most intriguing of these potential resources. It’s under-utilized as yet but it could be a really powerful voice for your business. It’s a way to connect with likeminded business owners and gym aficionados. Even if you don’t want to make one yourself it makes a great source of information that make the best use of long commutes and your half hour on the elliptical machine.

If you haven’t had the experience yet, podcasting is a recorded format that’s a cross between talk radio and audio books. They are great for periods when you are physically occupied but your mind is free. Working out is one of those times to which the medium is suited. If you listen to industry related files you can pick up a lot of knowledge and ideas from what others have tried, what works and what doesn’t. It’s amazing how freely podcasters will share information about their experiences.

Podcasts About Business And Marketing

There are thousands of great podcasts about business in general. For example, the Entrepreneur On Fire podcast is a high power production that gives out vital information and business insight. Another is the Marketing Lifestyle Show by Amy Schmittauer, a great source of information on marketing and how to promote a business.

Fitness Business Podcasts Of Note

The SpartanUp Podcast is the talk show component of Joe Desena’s Spartan Races Empire. Desena leads the show himself, posting new episodes every Tuesday, all of it great stuff! The Barbell Business is a no-holds barred podcast about the experience of operating gyms and people in the industry as guests. This doesn’t even scratch the surface for what’s out there. If you check out some the directories for podcasts such as iTunes and Stitcher.com you’ll find almost any topic in fitness covered in detail and they are relatively easy to produce yourself.

Do Your Own Podcast

You can do a basic podcast with some simple equipment but you may find that to get the sound quality you really want you might want to get a good quality mike and digital recorder. Just recording a Google Hangout or a Skype conversation can set you up with material that is compelling enough to pick up an audience over time. What would you talk about? Well that is up to you, who you know to interview, and your innate creativity.coffee

You might want to post a podcast to your website but it actually requires a special form of hosting. It is the one thing that tends to be excluded by your hosting company’s terms of service, even if they don’t readily admit it. But once the server detects the traffic pattern of podcast downloads they will shut it down fast. You need to use a service like Stitcher.com or Libsyn.com to host podcast files posted on your website. These services are configured specifically to handle the sudden bursts of traffic from a podcast that’s picked up a following.

A headset will work if you are on your own and recording audio from the web or Skype. Alternatively, you can get good USB mikes such as the Snowball for under $100. For even better equipment you will likely pay $400 for a professional quality mike alone. Cliff Ravenscraft is the guru to turn to for advice on equipment, although there are plenty of other good sources.

No Limitation But Imagination

What you say and with whom you say it is entirely up to you. Whether it catches on and helps to market your gym business depends on if it’s entertaining and relevant to your audience. The best way is often to find people who interest you, actively show your interest by asking questions and giving them the space to answer. Above all, make it fun because if your audience knows you are having a good time they will find it much more enjoyable to follow along. After all, to be successful in this business, you have to make people feel good just as much as look good, to build their minds as well as their bodies.

https://www.gyminsight.com/index.html

 

Bibliography

Greenfield, Rebecca. The (Surprisingly Profitable) Rise Of Podcast Networks. September 26, 2014. http://www.fastcompany.com/3035954/most-creative-people/the-surprisingly-profitable-rise-of-podcast-networks (accessed June 3, 2015).

Ravenscraft, Cliff. Podcast Equipment. http://podcastanswerman.com/equipment/ (accessed June 3, 2015). read more

Charity Events By Orangetheory Prove My Point

On Orangetheory Joining Communities

The new HIIT concept gym business Orangetheory has been expanding like crazy across the country of late. I’m glad to see that there is a fitness ethos behind the boom. It looks like they’re selective in whom they hire; only properly trained and certified exercise science graduates need apply.

Beyond doing the basics right, Orangetheory is doing something else that I am all in favor of, which is encouraging locations and managers to get involved locally and give to the community as this link shows.

 

Overview Of Fitness Business And Charity

Giving back is really important for small gym business owners, it’s not just a marketing ploy to spread your name and increase your profit margin. It’s a practice that makes you better people and more well rounded and rewarded on the highest level.

The fitness business is about creating health and abundance and sharing it with all of those around us. The people who make this business great are simply the ones working from their hearts to deliver the best training results for members and thereby improving all of their lives.

This attitude helps to support a giving culture that supports members extending to giving in the community. It’s something that may not show directly on your bottom line in the short-term but long-term it will help to support your business as a thriving and admired local institution.

 

Always Be Connecting To Your Community

It all comes back to the issue of values in fitness and the basics that help you find what it is that people need from your business. It’s about customer values, specifically the value that members seem to put on community and connection.

I have previously written about what I think the highest values of gym business customers are. It includes making human connections; both within gyms directly and through the confidence gained everywhere else.

So What Is Community Anyway?

In the context of a small gym business, a community is the people who live in the area from which the membership of your gym is drawn, the business community that serves the same people and it is the structure of the local government and chamber of commerce.

I personally would steer clear of political affiliation but the choice is your own based on the local issues and interests you have. The important thing is to lead and connect in such a way as to drive good will toward your gym and create a powerful local network of friends, allies and potential collaborators.

 

Why Giving Is Always The Right Response In Fitness

There are of course those in the industry who look for cheap and easy solutions. But over time they lose out on the connection as their shtick give them a poor reputation in a competitive industry where reputation counts.

Even big companies have tried to throw money at problems in the hope of finding easy solutions, while failing to connect, to serve and to follow through; they ultimately pay a price and fade away. Giving develops good will, which is a precious commodity in any business, particularly one that deals directly in a competitive retail market, like fitness.

 

The Tool That

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Survey Shows Small Gyms Grow By Reviews

Customer Reviews

Third Party Confirmations

I was just reading the results of a really interesting small business survey, and the discussion about it, on the Club Solutions Website. The point was that community and reviews lead as the driving forces for growth across the spectrum of small businesses.

Of 6,000 survey respondents, eleven percent were gym members. The survey showed that there is growth in the economy, small businesses get the most return by providing community, and that small businesses, including gyms, get a lot of mileage from reviews posted by members.  The article went on to say that these reviews provide highly valued, third party validations that consumers look to as trusted information.

Transactional Stranger Danger

Initially, you engage in transactions but these will become valuable to you when they begin to blossom into relationships. This strongly supports the sort of things I have been thinking and writing in the Gym Insight Blog since… well, since the beginning.

A transaction is the most minimal and marginal exchange of goods and services for immediate payment. I visualize it as a buyer and seller, each extending their right hands with goods or cash and grasping for the contents of the other’s right hand with their left, in an awkward face-off; both parties driven by fear and loathing to get the transaction done as fast as possible.

Comical as that may sound, it illustrates the basics of trading. The one thing that can make the experience more palatable is the trust that grows in any kind of positive relationship.

Know Plus Like And Trust Equals Relationship

A relationship based on positive experiences, between your small gym business and its members, will help you to build your business and succeed by reducing the cost of each new sale. read more

The Challenges Of Creating Your Own Brand

There was a time when I would have thought that creating a brand was as simple as having an idea and commissioning a graphic designer to put my imaginings into visual form. I have learned a simple and harsh lesson over time: You have to work very hard to get recognized in your marketplace, as a business and as a brand.

Be The Brand

You can create your brand as an extension of your own personality but you have to make sure that it is the right image for your market and membership. Test your results and take measurements wherever possible. Use less of what doesn’t get a response and more of what does. It sounds so simple but the detail will get you every time.

Fortunately, being independent, you are the face of your brand and you can do things that no big box brand can do. You can engage directly on the personal level; as you speak for yourself you speak for the brand. This works on multiple levels, at least two anyway. You can look your members directly in the eye and use empathy to sense how well you are doing.

Also, when you speak to members face to face or you respond at length to comments made on your website or Facebook page you speak with ultimate authority. On a practical management level you are the decider, the person that can cut a deal. Of course that can be double edged, you can’t get away with blaming policy or head office. But you shouldn’t do that in any case; people will see right through that every time.

Always Be Testing

Fitness trainers and gym owners really ought to be the perfect managers for marketing. What is it we do with clients? We make an initial assessment to show them where they are starting. This helps to sell the program we have to offer. As members progress over time we then measure their results to show what they have achieved. This makes them feel good about the training and tells us what they need to do to get to a further or final goal.

Managing a business is just like that too. You determine the present state of affairs and what you need to do to move it to the next revenue and membership target. For marketing materials and graphic design try to set up tests where you can see what members or prospective members prefer. This can be done digitally with spreadsheets or dedicated applications or just marks on a board. The point is to find the visual, verbal and physical materials lead to more sales.

Brand As You Mean To Go On

Always look to your final objective, which is getting members to sign up repeatedly for your service. You don’t want to have a high turn over. Gaining new members is great but retaining the ones you have is better. You want members who are receptive to additional goods and services, as well as the basic membership.

Have you ever experimented by moving the equipment around on the gym floor? After all, your gym is your brand. When you move equipment around you may find that different configurations create different activity. As an example, it has always puzzled me how moving the elliptical machines to one place on the gym floor will cause them to be discovered and used more but where ever I used to put the stair-stepper it was consistently used about the same.

My point here is there is no simple equation to explain it. Either that elliptical sat unused or members were almost lining up. You probably know that look that they get, sort of hanging around watching over their shoulders. Well, you are trying to do something like this by applying measurements to your brand. You need to know what will move the needle and what won’t. One way will be an investment that drives your business and the other is like throwing your money away.

If you can’t take the time to do elaborate marketing tests you can always go with what you like yourself. Your taste after all does represent who you are and a little professional guidance can go a long way. You might be taking a shot in the dark but it will give you initial feedback that you can build on later, just make sure that you try to measure what happens. If you don’t already use Gym Insightcheck it out and find out how it can help turn your guesses into measurements you can act on.

https://www.gyminsight.com/index.html

Bibliography

Beesley, Caron. 10 Tips to Help You Build and Grow a Stand-Out Small Business Brand. March 4, 2015. https://www.sba.gov/blogs/10-tips-help-you-build-and-grow-stand-out-small-business-brand (accessed October 4, 2015).

Fagan, Lawrence. Differentiating Price and Value In Premium Gym Memberships. January 9, 2015. https://blog.gyminsight.com/3057-premium-gym-memberships/ (accessed October 4, 2015).

—. First Things First In Digital Name Selection. February 19, 2015. https://blog.gyminsight.com/3156-first-things-first-in-digital-name-selection/ (accessed October 4, 2015). read more