Innovative Programming Ideas for Fitness Facilities

Innovative programming ideas aimed at motivating members to exercise with all featured programs submitted by readers.

Beach Body Blast Wilmington Athletic Club, Wilmington, N.C.

How can you improve your members' physical fitness, nutrition and emotional well-being, all at once? For Wilmington Athletic Club, Wilmington, N.C., the secret lies in its Beach Body Blast, "an exciting, comfortable (non-intimidating) and educational way to meet healthy lifestyle goals," says Wellness Director and Aerobics Coordinator Vanessa Bailey.

Beach Body Blast kicked off on April 26, 2004, as a fun and interactive program consisting of specialty exercise classes and personalized nutrition plans based on members' needs. Participants met three times a week for eight weeks, and were given a Beach Body Blast Journal to record progress throughout the program, as well as to track nutritional intake. The Journal also included a place for their before and after photographs, as well as their before and after measurements.

"Throughout the program, we took the participants through various stages of physical activity," explains Bailey. As participants became more acclimated to the routine, more advanced exercises were introduced, as were classes such as indoor cycling, yoga, kickboxing, Pilates and tai chi. In addition to physical fitness, participants were given a healthy eating tip each week. Participants "learned to control portions, drink more water and how to read a food label," says Bailey. Participants' journals were also reviewed each week to see what changes they were making in their diets. At the conclusion of the eight weeks, participants had their final weigh-in, measurements and photographs taken.

Bailey says they allowed 25 people into the program, with teenagers, adults and seniors participating. The program was a success in terms of increased membership retention, member referrals, member relations and healthier members. Participants not only achieved results, but the idea of the program "was so appealing that we have continued to offer this throughout the year with other names such as Summer Sizzler, Fall Into Shape and The Twelve Weighs of Christmas," exclaims Bailey. All of the participants are still active in the club, as well as in the group exercise classes, and many have joined the ensuing programs.


Jump Start The Solana Club, Westlake, Texas

If members are truly going to succeed in their fitness and weight-loss goals, they must be provided with direction. That was the goal of the Jump Start program at The Solana Club in Westlake, Texas. "Instead of having new members come in and just get pointed to the machines," explains Program Manager Nate Hales, "we intend to educate them on safety and successful training techniques."

Jump Start consists of two parts. The first includes receiving the Jump Start Manual, which the member goes over with the membership representative; fitness assessment tests for body composition, muscular strength, flexibility, aerobic index, respiratory and muscular endurance; and a three-page report, which includes an interpretation of test results. The second part includes an exercise prescription and orientation to the equipment, classes and one-on-one training. "The program is designed to educate and allow members to have choices, but to be able to accomplish their goals in an efficient manner," says Hales.

Since Jump Start's inception on Aug. 1, 2004, 90 percent of new members have signed up for the program, which has been a big selling point for the club. "While we are in competition with larger clubs with lower rates, this provides our members with a personal touch -- people who are willing and able to teach them how to safely achieve their fitness goals," says Hales. As the Solana Club hires only certified and degreed fitness staff, there is less concern for members injuring themselves, and their members see results and feel good about themselves for accomplishing their goals. Plus, the members "continue to be a part of the Solana family," says Hales.


Gymnastics Fun Night Newtown Athletic Club, Newtown, Pa.

Fitness centers aren't just for strength and cardio training. The Newtown Athletic Club, Newtown, Pa., has as part of its club a gymnastics center with its own membership. To encourage the use of its gymnastics facility, club operators decided to open their doors to aspiring nonmember gymnasts in the community on the first Friday of each month. The Gymnastics Fun Night began on Oct. 15, 2004, says Gymnastics Director Kim Kientzy, and "is designed to open the gym to everyone who wants to practice or play on the equipment."

The facility provides all of the equipment, including bars, balance beam, vault, rope, rings, floor and tumble track, as well as gymnastics coaches. Classes are structured, but as Kientzy explains, "nothing is more fun than working on your favorite event or getting a new 'trick.'"

One of the most challenging aspects about creating the event was providing enough trained staff members to adequately ensure the safety of the participants, explains Kientzy. So, every few months, the facility holds a training session to review spotting procedures for beginning to advanced gymnastics. The coach/gymnast ratio is set at 1 to 5 or 6, depending on the level of difficulty for each event.

From the start, the Gymnastics Fun Night has had a terrific response. Kientzy says that 50 participants ages six through adult registered for the first session, and there is a waiting list and inquires about the next Gymnastics Fun Night session.
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