I am the fitness coordinator at a community recreation center in a town of about 10,000 people. We have seen a big down turn in participation levels in many of our group fitness classes. I am just wondering if this is a trend industry-wide or if there is something I am not picking up on internally. Any info on where your programs stand would be great as well as any tips for picking up more students! Thanks
I checked your community center website and it looks like you already have a lot of things going on for your members. You live in a tough market, but also has lot of potential. It seems to me that the people there would be more inclined to participate in outdoor activities (hiking, skiing, trail running, etc.)…I could be wrong. Maybe you could try and teach some classes that are focusing towards these type of activities. You can also introduce some team building events and training. These classes tend to bring people together and can be very fun. Your town is not very big and the market can be challenging. It’s a very beautiful town…a place I would love to live.
Keep in mind that what works in a bigger city environment might not be successful at your town. If you know the demographic of your population, then it could help you redirect the business model and focus of your facility to a one that might work better for you. Being a community center it can have some great advantages because you are exposed to the majority of the population in your town. You can set the tone of where you would like things to go and then design a course of action. A great example is the Y of Door County in WI (www.doorcountyymca.org). They have the monopoly of the market in their county and they get all the attention (of all kind). They even sponsor their own triathlon which attracts people from all over the surrounding areas (all the way to Chicago and MI). Maybe you can do the same for your place. The surrounding area of Cody WY has a lot of potential for organizing outdoor events and bring many people in town as well as getting the residents involved even more. I’m just throwing some ideas out there :-).
One thing I might add to what Harris says is to think about your online presence. I found it very difficult to locate lists of classes offered and dates and times. Having classes that are easy to find, easy to schedule and pay for… that is helpful. It also makes you more appealing to younger members.
My market and yours are quite a bit different, though I do some work for the Y, and structurally that is not too different from what you have. I would say group classes seem to do well…. but most of the coordinators at the various places I have worked tend to track attendance and to tweak the schedule based on patterns of use…. though before you cut, be aware of what is a down turn due to weather (icy conditions may mean less people in your fit for life class) or other circumstances (no kindergarten may mean parents doing other things with their young kids)