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Make Your Facility a Hangout

by Sean White on May 01, 2003

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Harriet Barovick’s article “The Kids Are All Pumped”— published in the February 26, 2003, issue of Time—suggests several ways that health clubs are attracting teens and preteens. Consider adapting some of these ideas to draw kids and teens to your personal training business.

Make Your Gym or Studio an After-School Center. Rampant childhood obesity and public schools’ cutbacks on physical education programs have led some parents to consider fitness a worthwhile after-school pursuit for their children. Investing in Internet terminals could increase kids’ enjoyment of “having” to be at your facility.

You could also follow the lead of Sherry Drake, owner of the Children’s Health & Executive Club (CHEC), a kids-only gym franchise in Chicago: After her young clients’ daily, supervised 2-hour exercise routines, Drake makes her facilities available for another 2 hours so they can do their homework. Offering such a program may automatically entice parents to sign their kids up.

Tout Your Studio as a Family Center. “‘Family- friendly’ is the buzz phrase now,” says Sandy Franco—IDEA member and presenter and co-owner of Franco’s Athletic Club in Mandeville, Louisiana—in Barovick’s article. “A lot more owners are realizing it’s good business. Parents love it. And if you’re a teen or preteen, your friends are there or you can be on your own. It’s hip. And there are a million things to do.”

According to Barovick, many health clubs offer days when people of all ages are welcome. Some ambitious businesses have implemented high-tech equipment such as water slides and giant video screens in their cycling classes, but simply adding a TV and videogame console could enhance your gym’s appeal to youngsters.

Promote Your Gym as a Place to Socialize. If you want to attract older kids, spread the word that your gym is a great place to meet people. After all, as Barovick observes, working out to become lean and fit can help body-conscious young women and young men at “that stage” get together. Barovick also writes that some teenagers use fitness clubs as dating destinations.

Before adopting a new image to attract younger patrons, consult your insurance provider or an attorney to determine what, if any, special accommodations, coverages or licenses you may need to have them as clients. Also consider setting aside space in your facility for your regular adult clients so they don’t feel uncomfortable with or annoyed by the presence of younger clients.

IDEA Personal Trainer, Volume 2004, Issue 5

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About the Author

Sean White IDEA Author/Presenter