Don’t Let the Lovely Weather Get You Down

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After a debilitating hurricane in the fall and a seemingly endless winter, spring finally has arrived in New York City. The trees poking up from the sidewalk have fully let their green hair down; Central Park is overflowing with tulips, bluebells, pansies, and forsythia; and exercisers are out in droves. Yes, all those people who spent the long, inhospitable months of fall and winter in the gym are now donning their jogging shoes and mounting their bicycles. They want to feel the warmth of the sun as they work out. They want fresh air.

All well and good, but what does this mean for you and your business? Maybe you survive on year-long membership fees, and you don’t get so worried when people don’t show up to work out—they’ve already paid their dues, after all. But what if your mainstay is monthly fees or per-session fees? Even if your facility does have the security of long-term membership payments, what if, when it comes time to renew, all those enthusiastic lovers of the great outdoors remember how they didn’t really ever go to the gym from mid-April through mid-October? What if they don’t want to “waste” that money again?

It boils down, really, to one question: How do you keep people coming to your facility when glorious weather comes and the great outdoors beckons?

The answer is pretty simple: Give them what they can’t get out there. And what is it that they can’t get? In your facility, they can probably jog on a treadmill, ride a bike, use the Stairmaster. But they can jog, bike, and climb stairs outside. They can take free weights outside. These days, it’s even pretty easy to find any number of classes you can take outside. But there are two things they can’t get outside: machines and that one instructor or trainer you have who is a powerhouse of magnetism and charm, who gets everyone moving faster and forgetting their self-consciousness, who pays attention to each person in the room with a smile and a charisma that rival that warm sun in the sky.

Machines are easy: Offer people incentives to come and use them. Most people don’t have them at home—at least, not ones like the ones you have in your facility—and, if they did, they certainly couldn’t lug them outside. So give them extra reasons to use yours (a free session with a trainer? points toward an extra month of membership? a week’s worth of beverages from the juice bar?).

As for that one instructor or trainer who is a powerhouse etc., employ that person as much as possible. Don’t just put him or her in front of a Zumba class — station him or her in the cardio center. Have him shout out encouragement to everyone on the ellipticals and stationary bicycles. Tell her to turn her smile on to everyone who walks into the room. Have him or her learn members’ names — in short, let that person do his or her thing to the utmost of his or her ability. With any business, it’s the people who count, who instill loyalty, who make customers want to come back. If you don’t have an instructor or trainer who matches this description, find one, pronto. And then laugh when it’s a gorgeous, sunny, seventy-degree day, because your facility is going to be packed, regardless.

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