The club I belong to runs a Fit and Fun Corporate Challenge, a two-day charity event open to community business people and their families. This event includes games, family parades, a 5K run/walk/bike/baby buggy, racquets competitions, mascots, wally-ball, wacky aquatic races and general all-round good times. It is very successful, with one exception.
Few new members sign up. Always a disappointment, but perhaps understandable. What attracted inactive adults to have a fabulous time at this event was not continued afterwards in the club program. It was back to serious fitness. No more fun.
I believe that if we are enter the new territory of attracting the inactive populations to our facilities, we have to break out of our fixation on fitness as serious work. We don’t need more work. We need more play. People want to escape from stress, from extreme competition, from job anxiety and relationship worry.
When I play squash I want a hard game that meets or exceeds my limits. But I still want it to be a game. My sons love serious league squash competitions. I don’t. My favorite squash night is the Friday night round robin at my club where members play 20-minute games with a great variety of partners. The play is strenuous, but the mood is friendly and relaxed.
It’s not the exercise that gets me off the couch; it’s the experience that goes with it.
Once in a muscle pump class, as we were doing a long, repetitive exercise, our instructor began asking everyone what we had done during our summer holiday. Hokey, but I found myself babbling away. Suddenly I was communicating with people I had been in various classes with for years—but never, ever, talked to. It was great. Unfortunately, no one realized that and nothing like it has happened since.
- Appoint an “Experience Manager” who creates and manages fitness experiences that attract new members and delight established members to keep them renewing their memberships.
- Create more social interactions.
- Improve the effect of music with movement.
- Add video and slide presentations to the music in group or individual exercise (Performance Aerobics!).
- Invent new sports that feature less competition and more open-ended fun.
- Market creative fitness experiences specifically designed for couples, families and corporate groups.
- Employ some of the new entertainment and interactive technologies (e.g., the Technogym Wellness System or FitLinxx Networking).
- Include outside recreation activities as a regular component of planned fitness programs.
- Expand personal challenge programs and events that reward individuals and groups that meet demanding health and fitness goals.
In short, retain the great progress we have made in exercise technique and diversity, and create exercise recreation that adds more fun, entertainment, novelty, social interaction and personal training. Design for the mind as well as the body.
People will join fitness facilities and stay in programs if the fitness experience is rewarding. Make your fitness business a center for holistic lifestyle experiences that revive our spirits— and keep us fit.