These innovative programming ideas motivate members to exercise using all offered programs and products.
Camp WilmaUniversity of Miami Wellness and Recreation Center, Miami, Fla. No one has forgotten the devastating hurricanes that hit the coasts of Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi this past year. And, what most certainly shouldn't be forgotten are the individuals and organizations that came forward in a time of need to help others during the crises. One such organization is the University of Miami Wellness and Recreation Center. In the fall of 2005, when Hurricane Wilma bore down on South Florida, leaving a wake of destruction in its path, staff at the Wellness Center immediately rallied to not only provide showers for individuals without power and a place to release stress, but it also served as a welcome refuge to the university community's children whose schools were closed. "With just one day's notice, the Wellness Center professional and student staff organized a free daycare/camp for all university faculty and staff children from ages six to 12," according to the university's Public Relations Intern Kristina Joss. "The kids were welcomed into a safe... environment where they were supplied with activities and food while their parents were at work." The staff set up games, such as dodgeball, floor hockey, soccer and duck-duck-goose, as well as arts and crafts activities. In addition, with the highly anticipated Virginia Tech/Miami game still scheduled for the Orange Bowl that week, Head Coach Larry Coker allowed the children to view a special closed practice prior to the Saturday game. "The kids even helped Sebastian, the mascot, ring in his 50th birthday," says Joss, "as it was originally intended for the 2005 Homecoming festivities, which were, unfortunately, cancelled." More than 100 children attended the last-minute program at the Wellness Center, making it a great success for all. "The University of Miami Wellness Center staff brilliantly showed their capabilities and compassion... during a time of crisis, and are an excellent example of what a well-run institution is capable of in a time of need," says Joss. "During a stressful and difficult time for all of South Florida, the University of Miami was able to offer a safe and relaxing environment for all of its patrons, and works to provide the same hospitality all year long, regardless of the circumstances."
Train Your TrainerTELOS Performance Center, Dallas, Texas Rather than stage a contest or silent auction, as is typical when raising money for charity, the TELOS Performance Center staff wanted to do something unique that would also promote its lucrative personal training program and provide some fun for members. So, from March 1 through March 21, 2005, the Center created its Train Your Trainer benefit, which put its personal training department up for public bid. The goal was to raise $5,000 for Special Care and Career Services, a local philanthropic organization. Because TELOS has such a successful private training program, which generates more than $160,000 in revenue each month, the staff decided that the members who participate in one-on-one training services possess two characteristics that could help them reach TELOS' goal: One, the members have a unique bond with their trainers, and two, they have demonstrated the financial means to support such a cause. Train Your Trainer allowed members to place bids in hopes of securing the opportunity for good-natured retribution. The highest bidder earned a one-hour training session, and the second highest bidder earned a 30-minute session, during which they could take the trainer through an exercise routine of their choice. Seventeen percent of the personal training clients participated in the bidding war, surpassing the $5,000 goal to raise a grand total of $9,375. Winners of the bidding were given a commemorative T-shirt, and their retribution training sessions were scheduled within a couple of weeks. "Introducing some fun by playing on the popular concept of 'role-reversal' between client and trainer provided a unique solution - one that our members could connect with - and offered our charitable endeavor a point of differentiation," explains Program Director Alison Treadaway. In addition, "the program reinforced the message to members and the community that the club is 'charity-minded,' and is known for the best in personal training."
Urban Adventure ChallengeDoling Family Center, Springfield, Mo. There is perhaps no better promotion for a facility than one that involves both members and the community. With that in mind, the staff at the Doling Family Center, Springfield, Mo., organized an urban adventure race, and used its fitness center as race headquarters and a major location for the race. Modeled after television's Amazing Race, the second annual Springfield Urban Adventure Challenge took place on Oct. 1, 2005. According to Health and Fitness Supervisor Eric Johnson, "Co-ed teams of three navigated Springfield by bus, bike and foot, finding hidden checkpoints," while solving problems and overcoming obstacles along the way. "Our facility was the location where teams sent their applications, called for race information and set up their bicycles the night before the race. On race day, … our facility hosted a remote control car challenge, a Morse Code decoding problem and a transition from foot to bike transportation." The event attracted 27 teams, with the fastest team finishing in just under four hours, and the slowest in over eight hours. "Teams were extremely pleased with the event," says Johnson, "and we were even able to sign up some new members."