How to Get the Most Out of Facility-Management Software

Your fitness center has invested money and time - and likely purchased high-tech software - so it can offer members indepth and detailed assessments. Now it's time to get the word out.

Your members may not realize it, but they're already involved in an assessment program. Every day they step on the scale and watch the numbers go up or down, they're getting information about how their body is gaining, losing or maintaining weight. However, a scale is an inaccurate judge of a person's fitness progress. Your fitness center has invested money and time - and likely purchased high-tech software - so it can offer members indepth and detailed assessments. Now it's time to get the word out.

"Almost any prospect will be reassured by the presentation of quantified progress data in a high-quality format during a sales presentation," says Mark Brittingham, president of BSDI, Califon, N.J. "It is simply human nature that we'll trust someone more if they seem to have hard data on their side."

This hard data can attract prospective members with a competitive nature. "Prospects who are committed to exercise [and] are simply looking for the right club will be drawn to the competitive aspect of assessment," says Brittingham. "Thus, 'How fit are you?' programs will generally attract the committed exerciser."

On the flip side, assessments can also be appealing to people who aren't athletic or competitive. "In contrast, prospects with a history of failure in either adhering to a fitness program or to their weight-management goals will be attracted to programs that use assessment as a means of establishing credibility and building confidence," Brittingham says.

The Idaho Athletic Club, Boise, Idaho, uses fitness assessments to appeal to an ever-growing and desirable demographic: older adults. "This documentation is a great resource for selling memberships and the hard actual results of progress in this ever-growing population," says R. Dale Irvin, corporate aerobics coordinator at Idaho Athletic Club. "Our [older adult] program is a growing market. They are serious and sincerely excited about improving their health, both physical and mental."

Irvin says that assessments are the perfect way to market to older adults, and retain their business. "This group of people has pretty routine schedules, and doesn't always see the gradual changes going on in their lives," Irvin says. "As instructors, we see it and are excited about it. And now with a baseline, and [by putting data] on paper, they will see the improvements, as well."

Selling assessments

Assessments are an essential tool for any fitness center. But, when it comes to marketing, you're not selling a print-out of percentages and numbers - you're selling excitement. "Fitness assessment is a window through which people can see their personal improvement," says Brittingham. "Done right, it is the proof that all of the hard work completed at the facility is really paying off. When it comes to marketing to prospective members, however, the key is to leverage the prospect's imagination: to help them understand themselves as they will be once they have made improvements in the key fitness metrics. To do this, a club must be able to provide high-quality sample materials that illustrate change over time, and show progress toward goals in a credible and professional manner."

Sparking a member's imagination is key. You want them to be able to envision how they will look in three months - and you want that to be a pretty picture. For this reason, says Irvin, "it's important to tie the assessment program into a structured exercise prescription, or a specific program or event. Offering assessments to people who aren't actively improving their fitness will only highlight their lack of progress, and work against what you're trying to do."

This means fitness assessments - though comprised of hard data and analyzed by software - will be most successful if they have a human touch. "The main key to selling an assessment program is the trainer or manager helping people understand how important charting progress is," says Irvin. "We all need help and encouragement. This is the perfect, non-threatening way to get people started on a plan to either hire a personal trainer or start a program that will get them living a healthier and happier life."

Assessment Software Directory

Aspen Information Systems Inc.
800 414-0343;
Visual ClubMate Assessment Software includes BioLog to record and track calories, exercise and activities; BioProfile to display and graph the cardiovascular-respiratory function, body composition, muscular strength, endurance and flexibility; BioPrescriptions to design a workout program; Club Rewards to award and track points for exercise participation; and DecisionMate to provide a snapshot view of all the assessment activities. Assessments and comparisons are displayed on-screen and also on color reports. Assessment software modules can be combined with Aspen's member management, check-in and video imaging software tools.

888 273-4348;
BSDI offers customizable fitness assessment software for both Windows and the web. Its systems support the protocols and norms from ACSM, CSEP, YMCA, Cooper (including the FitnessGram), the President's Council, the Senior Fitness Test and the Fullerton Advanced Balance Scale Assessments. Reporting focuses on change over time and progress toward a goal. BSDI has served the industry since 1991.

408 973-8080;
HyperStrike offers custom online fitness and nutrition services that are fully managed and hosted. Facilities set the pricing for members and determine their margins. HyperStrike offers several web-based services: a personal training portal, fitness, nutrition, meal planning, fitness assessment, resources and more.

InnovaTech Software
800 275-8636;
InnovaTech offers HealthCalc desktop software and online products, integrated health/fitness assessment and member management solutions. Its member management module includes front desk check-in and activity logging, with incentive program management. Its fitness assessment is built around ACSM evaluations and norms, and includes setting up exercise programs with photos of equipment. Paper- and web-based health-risk assessments are available. Data management tools include mail merge, labels, broadcast email features, and more than 200 individual and management reports. Data can be imported and exported. Online tools can tailor the site to the facility's needs.

877 838-9918;
Intelametrix offers assessment tools that measure body composition using ultrasound technology. The BodyMetrix product line is designed to be easy to use, affordable and non-invasive. BodyMetrix has been validated against underwater weighing and skinfold calipers at Pepperdine University and Appalachian State University.

800 822-0405;
HealthWizard fitness assessment software from MicroFit allows fitness centers to screen clients to limit liability and provide effective fitness counseling, make an impact at health fairs and corporate events, work with the medical community and grow personal training revenues. MicroFit has offered fitness assessment solutions for 20 years.

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