Outdoor Training: Model for Success

by Peter Twist, MSc and Dean Shiels on Aug 25, 2011

At the Twist Sport Conditioning Centre in North Vancouver, British Columbia, we have experienced tremendous success with a conditioning class for adult clients called West Coast Outdoors. Our 12-week outdoor program has become a best-seller. It's so popular that we offer five sessions a week in fall, spring and summer. Lack of adequate daylight is the only limitation in our winter programming session. Of course, an outdoor training program is not limited to any region. Getting outside is great for everyone, and exercise in the cold (snow is fun!) simply requires more layers of clothing.
Discover why an outdoor program can benefit your clients, and learn how our successful model works.

How Clients Benefit

Providing clients with a structured outdoor training program gives them the opportunity to break out of a regular indoor routine. Here are some benefits clients will experience:

They Exercise on Uneven Terrain. Exercising on a natural surface outdoors requires more body control and activates more joints and muscles than working out on a flat surface indoors.

They Engage the Mind. Attention shifts moment by moment as clients focus on dodging tree roots and rocks, seeing the beauty of the changing scenery, and feeling the rain, sun or wind on their faces.

They Boost Their Mood. Stress, anxiety and frustration from the daily grind simply evaporate when clients are immersed in the positive energy of nature and the awe of the earth’s natural wonders.

They Challenge Themselves. The physical demands of an unpredictable environment combined with the mental focus required to negotiate it help clients burn more calories, work at higher intensities and take on greater challenges.

They Go Green. Not only is outdoor exercise friendly to the environment, but being in the “green” has a healing and rejuvenating effect on the body, mind and spirit.

Program Framework

The West Coast Outdoors program is offered 5 days a week—Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:00 am and Tuesday and Thursday at 6:00 pm—for 12 weeks. Each workout lasts 75 minutes. Clients register for one, two or three sessions a week for the full 12 weeks and are able to combine this outdoor workout with their indoor training sessions to create a customized training plan. The cost per workout ranges from $20 to $30, depending on the number of sessions booked in a week. Registration for specific days and times is required so that we can manage group sizes and appropriately allocate trainers (we call them “coaches”). To maintain a safe and effective workout for everyone, we assign one trainer for every eight group members.

When 16 adults register for two sessions per week, the program brings in approximately $5,000 in total revenue over the 12-week time frame. Once trainer costs have been factored into the expenses, the profit for one 12-week program is approximately $3,500. Offering the program in both the mornings and evenings on all 5 days can double your profit margins.

Each workout is developed for multiple ability levels, allowing fitter clients to attempt bigger challenges than less fit members. For the first few weeks, the group is kept unified as trainers observe ability levels and provide appropriate modifications for each individual. As participants gain more experience with the workout format, they are coached to push themselves. This strategy allows trainers to spend more time with less able team members. In most cases trainers keep the group in a manageable space so they can interact with all group members throughout the workout.

Our Training Plan

The goal of the program is to incorporate a mix of anaerobic and aerobic conditioning drills in the beautiful outdoor terrain surrounding our facility. Workouts are developed 4 weeks in advance, and each trainer makes on-the-spot modifications based on weather or group dynamics. Within each workout, athletes of all abilities are encouraged to work at a self-directed pace that meets their personal needs and aspirations. Only portable equipment is used, and we keep equipment requirements to a minimum. Our clients' favorite tools include speed parachutes, slingshots and breakaway harnesses.

You can develop your own outdoor program to help a wide range of clientele build their physical and mental assets. This kind of program creates an additional profit center for your training business while helping your clients succeed. Clients benefit and so do you.

For specific marketing tips, please refer to the complete article, “Take Your Training Outdoors” in the online IDEA Library or in May 2011 IDEA Fitness Journal.

Want more from Peter Twist?

IDEA Fit Tips, Volume 9, Issue 9

Find the Perfect Job

More jobs, more applicants and more visits than any other fitness industry job board.

© 2011 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Authors

Peter Twist, MSc

Peter Twist, MSc IDEA Author/Presenter

Peter Twist, MSc, is the president and CEO of Twist Conditioning, Inc. He is an exercise physiologist with a specialization in coaching science. Having coached in the NHL for 11 years, Peter has worked with over 700 professional athletes. Peter received the National Strength and Conditioning Association's 1998 President's Award and the Can-Fit-Pro 2003 Specialty Presenter of the Year award. Certifications: NSCA

Dean  Shiels

Dean Shiels IDEA Author/Presenter