I run a daily group fitness class for women and moms. We workout at a local park. The kids run around and ply or join in while the moms get in a circuit workout (cardio & strength, followed by stretching). The price is set at a punchcard fee ($6-$9).
I live on a military base overseas and so many people offer their services here for free! There are no less than 8-10 group training offerings, from circuit style to running groups to beach body coaches getting groups together to do the workouts. Not to mention that all the group classes offered at the gym are free (although no children are allowed, nor is childcare provided at the gym). Most are not offered by certified or insured professionals.
I have a loyal following and have offered referral programs, contests, family days, but few new clients are coming. I’ve run this class for 10 months now and still am working 5-10 sessions for free without turning a profit. How do I compete in a marketplace where people are giving away their services for free and the clientele don’t care if you’re insured or certified?
A crowded market is difficult. It is also difficult with people there who already have a habit with someone else. I think if you can find some ways to leverage what makes you stand out it might help. What I am thinking of is a master yoga teacher I trained with recently who was talking about living in Hawaii decades ago where there was a thriving ashtanga (power) yoga community. He taught viniyoga (restorative) and had so many injured practitioners come to work with him from those groups that he was able to buy land and build a house.
Have you reached out to local pediatricians? You know, a letter of introduction, a request for a meeting, or invitation to come to your group, pointing out your certification, insurance, experience, etc, and asking for referrals for moms who may have specific medical issues that require a bit extra in the way of attention? With things like gestational diabetes exercise is important, but extra care is warrented, and your credentials may be useful.
I would also make some connections with instructors who do something different…. where your services may be complimentary. There is a zumba instructor who sometimes does my yoga, and sent me members of her runners group, and even had me come speak to them.
If what makes you stand out is your knowledge it may also help to shine the spotlight on that. What are the opportunities for you to do an information session? Health fairs are obvious choices, but what about weight watchers meetings, is there a newcomers club there? Also, if there is any opportunity to write something in the local newsletter or paper, or even in the school paper that can be very helpful.
It’s true you are in a difficult position. You live in a community that depends on support from it’s members, which is great for a military community. I’ve had other friends of mine who run into the same issue as you did. When there are many services that offered for free or at a very low cost, it’s very difficult or almost impossible to change the minds of people who are involved to make them give you money for something they are already getting it for free. If you want to be able to make some profit, you might have a couple options. One, move outside the base (if that’s possible) and offer classes to the people who reside around the area. The other option is for you to come up with something so unique that people in your community are willing to pay money for it. Since there are a variety of classes offered at the base, you will have to become very creative. You will need to attract people from the other classes similar to yours and at the same time be able to charge $$ for it.
It’s a difficult challenge, but it can be done :-). Good luck!
I agree with the others. Finding some way for you to be different, to stand out, to offer something the others dont. Having a reason for them to come to you instead of the others is where you want to look. Some people are just looking for a freeby and dont care, they are not the clients you want anyway. You want to attract the client who is looking for that something special that only you can deliver. It could be in the way you teach, how you interact with people, a feeling of security.