These innovative ideas implemented by fitness facilities across the country help to motivate members to obtain their fitness goals.
Women On WeightsCoppinger Family YMCA, Pearland, Texas Knowing that many women feel uncomfortable entering the weight room, but also feel intimidated because they may have never used weights before or have never learned to set them up correctly, Janet Melnar, group exercise instructor and Pilates leader at Coppinger Family YMCA, started Women On Weights (WOW). WOW is a six-week course that provides women with hands-on instruction on how to use cardio and weight equipment, as well as how often resistance training should be performed, how many repetitions should be done and how fast. Each week, the participants are also given a nutrition challenge (such as replacing soft drinks with water, or donuts with fresh fruit), as well as a good deed of the week (such as writing a thank you note to someone who has had a positive influence in their life). Each exercise session begins with a "brief time to discuss any questions regarding the workout from the prior week," explains Melnar, as well as a talk about the current week's assignments. Then, the participants "warm up for five minutes on the bike, [elliptical trainer], treadmill or row machine - something different each week," says Melnar. After the warm up, Melnar goes through the entire weight workout, demonstrating how to set up and operate each machine. Participants learn to use the equipment in a smaller area to make them feel more comfortable, and then progress to the main areas of the YMCA for weekly workouts. By week six, they learn to design their own workouts from the previous five workouts they performed. The first WOW class started in August 2006, and four have been held since then. "The class consists of 10 participants when we offer the program during the day, and eight participants when we offer the program at night," Melnar says. The goal is to offer the course when it is most helpful and convenient for members. For example, Melnar says she held a Holiday Women on Weights with more information on stress management and holiday nutrition hints. And, her next course will be held on Friday nights to accommodate participants who work during the day and still want their weekends free. "We have had a 90 percent success rate with the courses," says Melnar. (The other 10 percent didn't complete the course due to timing conflicts). "The overall goal is to empower the women to not only be able to use the equipment and feel comfortable doing so, but also to feel confident about designing their own workouts."
Biggest Loser Buddy ChallengeDecatur County Family YMCA, Greensburg, In. Due to its popularity, the Decatur County Family YMCA held its third annual Biggest Loser Buddy Challenge in February 2007. In the eight-week challenge, members and non-members pair up in teams of two to compete for points through exercise. Twenty-seven teams signed up for the most recent challenge. An initial weigh-in recorded participants' body weight and body fat percent. Then, each team earned 10 points per day when they came in to exercise. And, they earned bonus points when they attended any class together, for coming in to the second weigh-in and for registering for upcoming Y events. At the final weigh-in, each team earned one point for every pound they lost, and one point for each 10th of a percent of body fat lost. The total number of points determined the three winning teams. The top three teams lost a total of 60 pounds and 13.6 percent body fat. First place prize was $100 or a six-month membership; second place prize was $50 or a three-month membership; and third place prize was $25 or a one-month membership. The challenge has brought the Y new members, as well as brought back old members who hadn't come in for awhile. For non-members who register and decide to join, the registration fee for the challenge is applied to the joiner's fee. Says Fitness Coordinator/Director Deena Hamer, "Working out with a buddy or friend adds extra motivation, makes exercise more enjoyable and challenging, and helps [participants] work hard to achieve a goal." Last fall, 49 teams signed up. "It is really popular in the fall, when the Biggest Loser TV show is running," says Hamer.
Rock the ScalesTown Sports International Health Clubs, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regions Weight loss is the No. 1 reason inbiduals join fitness facilities in January, and it is also the No. 1 resolution on the minds of current facility members. To capitalize on this, Town Sports International (TSI) Holdings Inc., owner and operator of New York Sports Clubs, Boston Sports Club, Washington Sports Club and Philadelphia Sports Clubs, launched its first annual Rock the Scales weight-loss program and $50,000 sweepstakes at all of its facilities. Rock the Scales was an eight-week weight-loss challenge designed to help members with their New Year's resolutions by having them follow a customized meal plan and workout routine. Participants had to be current members of one of the facilities by Jan. 31, 2007, and then could sign up online between January 1 and February 15. Once signed up, they had access to fitness advice and an eight-week nutrition and meal plan. Plus, all participants received weekly emails filled with advice from Sports Clubs pros, as well as support inside the facilities. Participants registered their starting weight the first week, weight after the fourth week and final weight after the eight-week challenge was complete. After the challenge was concluded, winners were selected among the participants, regardless of their weight-loss results. As part of the promotion, TSI offered a special joining rate of $20.07 at all facilities, and started a unique circuit class called Rock On, which took place in the clubs January through February. According to Merrill Richmond, vice president of marketing for TSI, 12,000 inbiduals participated in Rock the Scales, and, in addition to the reward of weight loss, 41 participants received prizes. Average weight loss was approximately 1 pound a week, which was in line with the expectations they laid out for the program. Prizes included a trip for two to Las Vegas, a Pilates retreat in Toronto, a $2,000 shopping spree in New York City with a top celebrity stylist, a five-year Sports Clubs membership and more. The program was so successful that the company is discussing ways to enhance the program next year and to include other partners, says Richmond.