Fun. It’s a word and theory often associated with children. But to be honest, we are all just big kids. Our lives have changed and we have more responsibility, more challenges, more stresses and more pressure to perform in both business and life then ever before. But FUN is where we let it all go. Need proof? Just scroll through your Facebook feed on a Monday morning and look at the things that your friends are posting about their weekend. Most of them probably don’t remember those events until you show it to them on Facebook. Why? Because people want to let it go…and there’s no better example of that then Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Need more proof? Look at your phone and see what games and apps you have that are “fun”. And there you have it. We are wired for fun.
This need for letting go and having fun can be a powerful and profitable influence in your fitness business. I speak about this often because I believe in the power that fun can have in the workplace and in the fitness industry. Large corporations like Facebook and Google spend millions of US dollars on creating a fun work environment to empower their employees. You hear the word “gamification” more then ever before. And one of the top reasons that people join health clubs and gyms (whether they admit it or not) is to meet people and have fun. So again, I ask you this question: who is in charge of FUN at your club? Who is the FUN DIRECTOR? What are you doing to engage and connect members and prospective members with one another? If you’re not doing this you are missing out…BIG TIME.
Here’s a few examples of ways to create fun in your clubs, both for employees and members.
Managers Meetings. Start with a game. Don’t ever, ever, EVER start a meeting and get right into the numbers. That is death to fun. Find a brain teaser, a puzzle, a game- let them work in pairs or teams to solve a MENSA problem and reward the winner or winners with a prize. Or, before having your meeting, everyone take a group fitness class…YES, EVERYONE take ZUMBA and “shake it off”. Laugh, cry and create the endorphins needed to relieve the stress of the everyday meeting. This philosophy will carry on down through the rest of the staff as you create fun opportunities for all staff to get together on a regular basis and enjoy themselves. You may even strengthen the bond so much that you create a true TEAM! Imagine that-all of your employees working hard, having fun and being friends. Powerful stuff right there
New Member Events. If new members are joining to meet other people, you need to create the atmosphere for them to do it. I’m not talking about meeting your future husband or wife type of events either. People want to connect with others. Want an example? How many times have you received a friend request from a person you do not know, but is somehow connected to you by others? Exactly. People are more comfortable behind a screen and so are more forward with “making virtual friends” and connections. In person?? YIKES! Here’s an idea to make the magic happen. Create New Member Orientation night and have that event EVERY MONTH. On the 3rd Thursday night of each month, you hold a small meet and greet for all new members in the last 30 days. Allow them to bring a friend (potential members = $$$$) During this 1 hour get together, provide some light refreshments like wine, cheese, fresh fruit or something else from your café or juice bar if you have one. The General Manager or owner should welcome everyone, introduce themselves and the managers. The Fitness Manager or Personal Training Manager should encourage everyone to take advantage of their complimentary (free) orientations (if you offer that). The Group X Director should briefly talk about the class schedule and highlight some things for each level of attendee. Encourage them to bring friends to the club as working out with friends is more fun. But be careful to NOT make this a “sales event”! This is a family get together. A time to get to know each other and watch long term gym friendships form. Get creative, give away t-shirts and door prizes. Make it FUN and keep the atmosphere lighthearted. If the members see you and your staff having fun, they are more likely to relax and enjoy the event and the overall experience even more.
Fit- Fest. Each year, you should hold a FIT-FEST (Fitness Festival). Basically an excuse to have a big party, focused around your club and fitness and make money. There are two main objectives with a Fit-Fest:
Reward your loyal members with a fun event they can bring the whole family to. AKA – Retention.
New Membership Sales.
I like to recommend that these events take place during the nicer weather months if possible so that you can utilize both inside and outside of the club. Outside you can have giant blow up moon bounces for the kids to jump around on and a DJ or local radio station there playing music. Arrange for outdoor fitness classes that are more fun, like ZUMBA or Les Mills Body Jam. Maybe you create a small race course or obstacle course for the families to complete. Local businesses should be invited to set up tables and tents to promote their services…which is a great way to establish partnerships and referral relationships. Inside the club- decorate it! Have lights and balloons, make it festive. It should be one giant party (without the alcohol). Members and guests should register to win large prizes which can be donated by local businesses to cross promote each other. In one club we gave away a giant flat panel HD TV in a raffle along with someone winning a FREE 1 Year membership. Have activities for the kids, like face painting or kids Zumba. If you have made a smart investment in EXERGAME FITNESS and created a super cool kids space you should use this area to run tournaments on certain pieces or do the family Olympics. Make sure you have a SPECIAL OFFER on this day to join the club AND also a SPECIAL GIFT or REWARD for your current members. This is one of the only times during the year that I recommend running a strong discount on the entrance fee. The point is, there is success when there is a team effort. Get your managers and staff together and take the time to plan out an event such as Fit-Fest.
Other simple ideas to add an immediate element of fun to your club: have a DJ come and play the music for your next big Group X class. Have themed group cycle classes, like 80’s night and play only 80’s hair band music during class. Let your staff wear their favorite futbol team jersey during the world cup or other big sporting event. At one club I used to manage we threw a giant Hawaiian Luau every year for the members only- no guests.
Remember, we are all just big kids so make fitness fun for everyone. Get creative and utilize the resources of the people around you. Keep it classy but not “stuffy”. Whatever you do to create this type of environment, I urge you to do it sooner rather then later. Why? Because if you don’t, your competitor will!
Originally published in Fitness Biznes Magazine May 2015 by Jarrod Saracco