As mind-body fitness has evolved over the past few years, many creative opportunities have opened up for managers to offer programs designed to soothe members and counteract the stressful effects of their demanding lives. When you create your group fitness schedule, including your fee-based programming, think of making your facility a destination resort by offering a variety of multidimensional courses with a broad range of yoga- and Pilates-inspired formats. Ask yourself what types of programs could most help members (and prospective members) find balance and lifestyle strategies that would help them meet their needs and desires.
By offering such programs, you can help your club be perceived as the destination for “getting away from it all,” rather than as just another stop in a busy day. Destination facilities are about more than high heart rates and body composition. Some of your programming decisions will be based on a holistic way of thinking that offers education and assistance in areas such as nutrition, stress, mind and behavior, and body image.
Mind-body formats—such as multiple styles of yoga, Pilates, Nia, Feldenkrais®, tai chi, stretch, meditation and core conditioning, as well as various fusion formats—have grown to be the most popular classes on many group fitness schedules because they provide physical challenges as well as life balance and emotional awakening. Fee-based programs and services, such as Pilates reformer, wellness coaching and even a menu of spa services, can feed the needs of individuals looking for a healthy, full-service retreat that is local and under one roof.
As a program manager, you have the responsibility of managing a “business within a business” and accommodating the lifestyles and needs of members. When you do this well, it can put you steps ahead of your competition. It is a numbers game, and a full menu of classes can bring holistic nurturing to your current members, help you get noticed by prospective members and ultimately generate maximum participation during all time slots throughout the day.
Knowing your business means understanding the needs of your members. What do they say they want, to make them look and feel better? There are layers to their goals, so asking and listening to your members can help you discover their desires, stated and unstated. For example, if a prospective mind-body participant says she wants “to look better in order to feel happy,” you might suggest a Pilates-based class in your mind-body schedule as a starting point. That way you are honoring the request for a “physical” emphasis while helping establish a new link to the “emotional” desire. From there you might see the client branch out into other mind-body modalities.
Or you might have a student who says, “I’m completely fit and in shape. I just need to relax a little from too much stress, and I don’t want to be stared at.” In this situation, you might recommend a meditation or stretch class that has low lighting and little hands-on by the instructor. In this way, you can address the student’s unspoken fear of being embarrassed, while steering him toward a class that addresses the stated goal of decreasing stress.
As you learn the needs of your clientele, you should begin to add classes that cater to those needs, taking into account the mind-body categories that have already gained tremendous popularity. An example of a class created in our facility to address a specific need was “Pilates for Teens,” which came about when a group of young Irish dancers needed sport-specific training to fine-tune their skills for competition. Your knowledge of clients’ needs can aid you in filtering out classes that have run their course, leaving spaces for new classes that can appeal to your loyal attendees while piquing the curiosity of potential participants.
Innovative mind-body programming can provide opportunities to broaden your marketing channels. Empower your membership teams (salespeople, trainers, instructors, etc.) to think outside your four walls, and direct the efforts of these teams outward as well. By going into the community, you will attract new populations to your facility. Outreach programs can add tremendously to both the club’s and your instructors’ bottom lines.
For example, present new programs targeting teens to local schools, and market golf programs to country clubs and golf retail stores. For older-adult programs, reach out to independent-living communities in your area that do not already have a varied and comprehensive schedule. If you offer programs for cancer patients and survivors, contact the cancer centers and oncology departments of local hospitals. Establish and maintain relationships with physical therapists and chiropractors, as they can be excellent resources for cross-marketing and profit.
As yoga and Pilates have become mainstream and prime-time, you can capitalize on these successes with new variations on a theme. There are many ways to create fusion and hybrid classes that will enhance your group exercise program and create additional revenue streams (see “Expanding the Concept of Mind-Body Programming” on page 14).
In addition to expanding beyond the basics in yoga and Pilates, you can incorporate wellness and related services into your resort destination model. Ideas for the “big picture” include a Mother’s Day 3-hour package that includes a mother-and-daughter partner class (strength and stretch), followed by a spa service (foot and hand massages or manicures and pedicures) and lunch at the club’s café.
There are also reciprocal marketing benefits in partnering with local business. For example, have professional salon specialists come in to provide facials, manicures and pedicures; or set up a triathlon training program and include sports massage and a shoe clinic, thereby creating cross-promotion opportunities for massage therapists and your local shoe retailer. Another idea is to offer a hot type of yoga series, such as Bikram, in conjunction with a hot stone massage and soup or a smoothie from your café.
To bring your club into the 21st century, the focus must continue to be on the needs and desires of the whole person. The definition of “getting fit” has changed over the past few decades to include more than just high-impact aerobics and “becoming buff.” Most people who enter a facility nowadays believe that fitness is holistic, and they come to look and feel their best. By expanding your concept of mind-body fitness, you can create programs that inspire, rejuvenate, encourage and nurture the needs of all who enter your club.