The Early Bird Catches the Great Deal

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I’ve always wondered how it feels to get in a good workout at 3 a.m. I don’t belong to a 24-hour gym, though, so there isn’t much of an opportunity for me to try. But this winter I came close. My gym launched a “sunrise special” for early birds: For $29 extra a month, members could access the facility starting at 5 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. on weekends. As a pilot program, it ran only January through April, but I’m hoping it starts up for good soon; I loved waking up with the birds and finishing my whole drill before most other people were even reaching for their snooze buttons.

You might want to think about instituting such a program for your facility, if you don’t have one already. The extra cost associated with doing so is relatively small – personnel-related, mainly – but there’s a potential for some nice new revenue. Most members won’t mind the cost (at my gym, less than a dollar a day) when the pay-off is an uncrowded cardio room, no one to jostle with on the machines, and the opportunity to accomplish the day’s exercise before work and other demands kick in.

If you’re worried about that uncrowded cardio room, fear not: chances are enough members will want to take advantage of the program to make it worthwhile. I know that even when I reached the gym right at 5 a.m. when the sunrise special was on, there were always a few other people (sleepily) stumbling in with me. The stream was small but steady throughout the morning — not enough to make me feel like I had to battle for equipment, but just enough so that I never felt I was there on my own. In fact, it was a little bit like a secret club; the other members and I would acknowledge each other with a knowing smile that seemed to say, “So you’ve figured out that this is a great deal too, eh?” And with a program like this, incentives work well: Come ten times before 7 a.m. and receive a free massage, or something along those lines.

Try an Early Bird type program. Your members will love you for it.

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