Enhance Your Facility with Aerobic Accessories

Enhance Your Facility with Aerobic Accessories

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Looking for an easy, inexpensive way to freshen up your club, engage members, and create a viable non-dues revenue stream? Look no further than aerobic accessories. Club Business International magazine recently ran a great little piece about the advantages of relying on accessories to boost many aspects of your club’s offerings. It even described one Toronto-based club, Fitness Nation, which relies entirely on aerobic accessories as their training model, without offering a single cardio or strength machine. “Because these products offer so much value,” Marc Lebert, the owner of the club, told Club Business International, “they give startups, small operators, and personal trainers a lot of great choices for a modest investment.”
It’s not just startups, small operators, and personal trainers that can benefit, though: Larger clubs and sports facilities also can create innovative programs, find savings, and possibly ignite new revenue by incorporating aerobic accessories. The possibilities are nearly endless—and certainly endlessly versatile. With battle ropes, bodyweight trainers, kettlebells, medicine balls, slam balls, sand bags, gloves, grips, belts, wrist wraps, and a host of other accessories a club can incorporate, there are significant options for keeping members on their toes with new class offerings. Combining accessories in novel ways can result in exciting experiences for club members — ones that keep them coming back for more and spreading the word about your creative classes.
Another bonus, the article points out, is that new accessories involve a learning curve. They require proper instruction, and because of that they help foster engagement between trainers and clients. With engagement, clients are more apt to feel attached to their place of exercise, satisfied with their experiences, and ready to push themselves further. As Lebert explained to Club Business International, “The products have to be introduced with proper instructions, or you run the risk of [them] not being used.” To encourage instructional activity, Lebert’s club offers trainers online access to programming updates and other exercise content. Consider the possibilities for your own facility if you can offer relevant online content—perhaps to trainers and members alike—to promote the use of accessories.
Finally, the article points out that these accessories can provide clubs with a fresh revenue stream. Chanin Cook, the director of marketing at Harbinger Fitness, says, “It’s been proven that utilizing accessories in club programs boosts on-site sales, and instructors and trainers can exert tremendous influence here.” If you’re not already selling accessories, it may be time to consider doing so.
The takeaway? Incorporating aerobic accessories into your programming can benefit your facility, your clients and members, and the manufacturers who are constantly devising new and exciting products. It’s a win-win-win situation.

Making Your Facility Intimidation-Free

Making Your Facility Intimidation-Free

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Have you ever felt close to convincing an on-the-fence prospective member to join your facility, only to have them back away in the end because they’re afraid of being intimidated? In surveys, intimidation is one of the most common reasons people give for avoiding sports and fitness facilities—and we’ve all seen the Planet Fitness “No Gymtimidation” commercials. Of course, the people perceived as intimidating in your facility might have no intention of scaring others away—in fact, they’re probably among your best customers, and you don’t want to do anything to alienate them. But there might be one or two super-serious exercisers who get a kick out of flexing their muscle, literally and figuratively, and scaring others off what they think of as their turf. What can you do to help limit intimidation in your facility?
To begin with, foster a sense of community. If your place feels like a cooperative, supportive, noncompetitive, accepting one, you’re less likely to find yourself trying to manage bullies, or even just dealing with members who perceive others as intimidating. This, in fact, is what the Planet Fitness ads are all about: They’re a way of saying, “Everyone here is in this together; everyone is welcome.” To create an environment with a similar message, try posting signs that convey your facility’s inclusiveness. Come up with your own “No Gymtimidation” slogan and plaster it around. Make sure your staff, including front desk folks, sales people, trainers, and locker room attendants, infuse the place with friendliness and respect. Tolerate expressions of judgment from no one.
Also, if you’ve got a core group of intimidators (intentional or not), try to harness their excellence for the benefit of your facility. Maybe organize a “Masters Circle,” or something similar. Personally ask your most intense, serious, and possibly bullying members to join. Give the group workouts appropriate to their level—and give them a talk, asking them to be aware of members whose skill might not match theirs. Explain how new members, whether novices or experts, are crucial to the long-term health of your facility, and ask them to be a force for good within the facility, maybe offering to help less experienced members or generally just to project friendliness. In effect, you want them to be ambassadors to your sports or fitness center.
Another approach: Rely on your trainers and instructors to keep things fair. When a class is packed and there’s an aggressive push to get to the front row, a mindful instructor can choose to spend at least part of the class at the back of the room, turning the back row into the front. That way, everyone feels like they get fair exposure to the lessons being taught. Trainers can keep a watchful eye on exercise equipment and cardio room usage, making sure no one’s hogging a particular machine or staking out personal territory. Instructors and trainers often have direct access to clients and members in a way that other staff members do not — they see them regularly and often build up a rapport with them. They can use their familiarity and rapport to make sure everyone gets a fair shot, and intimidation is not a factor.
The bottom line is that your facility should feel like a fun, relaxing place for each person who uses it. If that’s the case, then everyone wins (including you). It’s worth spending time thinking about how to create the kind of environment that welcomes everyone, and how to make it clear to prospective members that “everyone” includes them.

Energy saving

You'll be Green with Savings & Sustainability

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Ah, summer. I love winter’s snow, I’m a sucker for the gardens of spring, and fall contains what will always be my favorite holiday (Halloween, of course), but for me summer is hands-down the best season of all. I love the salad-eating, outdoor-exercising, blazing hot energy of it all—the swimming, the relaxation, the air-conditioning.
I know that last item is problematic, and it’s part of a much larger issue. Air-conditioning creates a huge carbon footprint, and if employed without regard to sustainability and energy conservation, it can contribute devastatingly to environmental destruction. However, from a fitness or sports facility perspective, it’s indispensable. Yet, it’s not just summertime air-conditioning that creates challenges. Lighting, energy consumption, heating, material waste—all of these issues affect how you run your facility year-round, how much money you save or spend, and your impact on the environment.
One way to tackle all of these issues at once is to push your facility to achieve LEED certification. Being LEED—or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—certified means meeting certain standards in energy savings, water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and CO2 emissions reduction. The cost of designing and constructing a building that meets such standards is high, as is the cost of improving existing buildings. Maintaining LEED-certified facilities also carries costs. But in the end, the savings associated with LEED-certification, financial and otherwise, make it more than worthwhile. So how do you go about achieving it?
First, adopt a “going green” mindset. Demonstrate your facility’s commitment to creating an environmentally sound space by getting all employees on-board with the notion. It’s crucial that your management team understands the specific goals and considers LEED-related issues in all decision-making processes; if you have a stated company mission and can make LEED-compliance part of it, all the better. Equally important is that your sales team recognizes the power of LEED as a lever for selling your brand. Potential members and customers will appreciate the knowledge that joining your club or attending your practice facility or venue helps minimize environmental impact, and in a competitive market, such a factor can be a crucial selling-point.
Next, to cover the considerable costs of building a new LEED building or bringing an existing one up to speed, consider gaining sponsorship or embarking on a partnership. Local waste companies looking to promote their recycling programs, cleaning companies that market green products, municipal agencies launching new fitness agendas, and businesses with specific, health-related objectives—these are just a few categories from which to seek out sponsors or partners. To find one that’s right for you, you’ll need to do some research, identify the needs and wants of potential partners, and design proposals that meet those needs and wants. Any proposal you come up with should detail how the image, mission, values, and/or green initiatives of the sponsor or partner align with those of your organization and highlight the value of the alignment.
Finally, think both big and small. Reconfiguring your facility to meet LEED standards is thinking big, and it’s a crucial step that involves a good deal of research, commitment, and investment. You also want to make simple changes that might be tiny in and of themselves, yet, add up to a big change, contributing to an environmentally sound approach to running your facility. Install recycling containers next to trash cans. Replace old drinking fountains with newer ones that allow for bottle refills. Consider ways you might be able to buy locally, stocking your juice bar with fruit from nearby farms and getting supplies from companies in your city or neighborhood. Offer discounts at your café for customers who bring their own drinking containers. Tie messages about personal health into ones about the health of the planet. Every little effort makes a difference, and will help make your facility a leader—year-round—in the sustainability movement.

Where Fitness and League Sports Meet

Where Fitness and League Sports Meet

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There’s a new professional sports league in town. For this league becoming fit isn’t just the preparation for the game—it is the game. The National Pro Fitness League (NPFL) is a new organization that pits co-ed teams of athletes against each other in a range of functional fitness events. Headquartered in Santa Cruz, California, the NPFL has franchises in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Miami, Washington, D.C., Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Its season will kick off at the end of August and last for six weeks, with the franchises competing in a total of 12 matches and a culminating championship match taking place in early October.

Wow. This is exciting news for fitness facilities and sports facilities alike. What a great development to get behind and support. Even if your facility doesn’t focus on functional fitness or offer related classes, the creation of the NPFL can be a boon to you. Since it will bring both fitness and league sports events to the forefront of the nation’s attention— at least for a little while (especially because, as NPFL Director of Team Development Cassie Haynes pointed out in a recent article, this league, unlike the NFL, MLB, and other older leagues, can be built around technology. The opportunity for fan engagement will be huge).

How can you benefit from the upcoming NPFL events? First, let your members know about them—chances are, they haven’t yet heard about the NPFL. Be the first to fill them in. Get enthusiastic about the league and convey your enthusiasm with posters, announcements, and by having your trainers talk it up. If there are competitors from your region, build up a show of support for them; make the events a bonding experience and a way to motivate your facility’s patrons in their own fitness and league practice sessions.

If you have the space and technology, you might consider setting up a few in-facility viewing events for members (and potential members!). Chances are, you’ve been looking for ways to build community anyway—and if you’re not, you should be! This is another excellent way to do so.

One great thing about the league is that it has the potentially to appeal to a wide variety of audience. It’s co-ed, so both men and women can get behind it. And it’s not filled with just hot young things; for each match, at least two competitors (one male, one female) from each team must be a “Master Athlete”—meaning age 40 or older. What other sport can boast of such inclusion? In spreading the word about the league—in your facility or on social media—you’ll want to stress this aspect of it. There’s something here for everyone.

Finally, can you think of any tie-in events you can stage at your own facility? If you have the capacity for functional fitness training, maybe you can plan for training activities that match a particular competition occurring on a certain day. Or after an event is over, you may have a trainer analyze an athlete’s performance together with clients, and help incorporate lessons to be learned into clients’ own practices. As always, the benefits you reap from such an exciting development (the creation of the NPFL) are up to you: You’re limited only by your imagination. It’s worth spending the time thinking about where you can go with this.

Workout Statistics

Get Fit with Exercise Snacking

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Have you heard the latest? Snacking is good for you. Not food snacking—exercise snacking. Researchers in New Zealand recently conducted a study that showed that multiple, brief portions of exercise in a single day—“exercise snacks,” the researchers dubbed them—may control blood sugar better than a single, continuous workout. The study was conducted on men and women with insulin resistance, a common precursor of Type 2 diabetes. Though, the news is relevant to anyone who wants to stay healthy by keeping blood sugar under control. In the study, participants who exercised for 12 minutes before breakfast, 12 before lunch, and 12 before dinner had far lower blood-sugar levels after dinner than those who exercised only once in a day, for 30 minutes before dinner. They also kept their blood-sugar levels lower for longer—over 24 hours as opposed to less than a day.

What does this mean for health clubs, gyms, fitness centers, and exercise boutiques? Well, you need to be prepared to serve members and clients who are looking to get to your facility three times a day. Also, if you want to help your members and clients reach their health-related goals (and you do, because their success is your success), you should probably think about how to encourage those who aren’t necessarily looking to get there three times a day to do so — and, let’s face it, many of them most likely struggle to get there once a day. Scientists have long argued that shorter, more frequent bursts of exercise are more beneficial than long, continuous spells. As the body of research supporting this hypothesis grows, more and more people will be demanding — and needing — to fit this new way of working out into their daily routines. This is especially true because, as researchers of the New Zealand study discovered, the blood-sugar benefits (and it remains to be seen which other benefits) are strongest when the exercise snacks consist of high intensity interval training. For most people, such training is much easier to do at a facility, with trainers and functional fitness equipment, than at home.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

1) Create a new three-times-a-day program. First, be sure to spread the word about the findings of the New Zealand study (and other studies that show the benefits of exercise snacking). Then, establish a structured program to help people get started. Designate a core group of trainers to work with the three-times-a-day-ers: They’ll have to work hard to motivate their clients to come before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At the same time, they’ll need to plan out careful twelve-minute exercise sessions, preferably high-intensity interval routines.

2) Everything’s easier with incentives. What discounts, rewards, or deals can you offer your members for trying out a new three-times-a-day program? Can you provide a day pass that will allow them fast-track entry each time, or a free smoothie from the juice bar after they complete their third workout? Can you give a free month to members who manage to make it to your facility three times a day, three days a week, for one month? Or maybe you can offer a month at half price for anyone who comes in three times a day with a friend at least twice in one month. The possible variations are limited only by your imagination.

3) If your facility has the capacity to serve food, consider providing three-times-a-day-ers with vouchers for at least one meal on their exercise days. This might make it easier for them to contemplate the logistics of coming to and leaving your facility three times in one day. They might, for example, come before breakfast, head to work, come before lunch and then stay and have lunch, and come again before dinner.

4) If it’s feasible, consider offering three-times-a-day classes in a couple of satellite locations in addition to your facility (maybe there’s an empty warehouse somewhere on the other side of town?). That way, members who live or work further away from your facility have a choice in where to go, and choices make for convenience.

As the trend increases and the demand for facilities to accommodate for more frequent, briefer sessions grows, health clubs and other fitness venues will learn what works and what doesn’t. Now is the time to get started — put yourself at the forefront of the exercise snack trend, and you’ll find yourself the leader of a pack before long.

Gym community

Helping Your Members Connect

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Every weekday morning, my sister-in-law heads to a functional fitness center and undergoes a grueling routine involving kettlebells, ropes, medicine balls, and heavy chains. The center is located in a small warehouse with a homegrown feel. There’s one instructor and a small number of regulars for each time slot; it’s the kind of place where the instructor greets everyone by name and asks about their kids and pets. My sister-in-law took me to a class recently. When I arrived, she introduced me to each person there, and they welcomed me so warmly that I felt I’d known them all for years.

The workout that followed made me want to lie in bed for three days and moan feebly, but I had a great time while I was doing it. It was great partly because functional fitness is just plain fun and the instructor was wonderful—but I know the main reason it was great, was that I felt instantly comfortable around all of those people. I felt accepted; I felt both gently teased (when I collapsed after the ten-thousandth burpee) and brilliantly supported (when I discovered a natural flair for kettlebell action); I felt a genuine interest in all of my classmates, and it was clear that feeling was mutual. I left with a whole new set of friends.

My sister-in-law lives far away, so I can’t join the class, but I know that if I could, I would (despite its tortuous aspects). There’s one simple reason why I would: to be a part of that community. Anthropologists and social scientists have long known that human beings function best when they function within a community. We have our ideas about independence and autonomy, but when it comes to basic questions of survival, or just to getting through each day—or, say, to getting through a workout—we need to have others around us, and we need to feel some connection to those others.

For owners of gyms, fitness centers, training facilities, and health clubs, these facts are crucial to running a sound business. If you build a supportive, intimate community, you’re much more likely to both retain members and find new ones. So where do you begin?

1) Introduce members to one another. This one is simple, but it works, perhaps even better than anything else. I don’t mean just play icebreaker games at the start of a class; I mean make personal introductions based on your knowledge of your clients. If a new member who is a schoolteacher joins, bring her over to the schoolteacher who’s been working out at your facility for years and get them talking. Of course, you can’t facilitate connections on this level without first knowing—or ensuring that your staff knows—members personally and thoroughly. Getting to know them personally and thoroughly takes a great investment of time and energy, but it’s one of the most worthwhile investments you can make. Members will feel valued, and their positive feelings will translate into referrals, loyalty, and longevity.

2) Form clubs to address specialty interests. Find out what your members are interested in doing outside of your facility (you can use surveys, registration forms, or just personal chats for this), and see what happens if you form a club around that activity. Outdoor biking, bellydancing, macrobiotic cooking — whatever it is, you can get things started, and you don’t have to do much else. Put up a sign-up sheet, and let the members themselves take care of the rest. They’ll form personal connections and you’ll benefit.

3) Get social. I’m talking about two kinds of social here: real and virtual. On the real side of things, host cocktail hours (or juice bar hours), get-togethers, and meet-and-mingle events. Match members up for training sessions. Hold talks and seminars. On the virtual side, welcome new members to Facebook, offer incentives to members who post to your Facebook page or comment on posts you put up, create a Facebook group that members can join in order to stay connected. Explore other forms of social media too. Again, your members will form a valuable community; you’ll reap the rewards.

Free Classes

Free Classes

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If you’re a sports facility with tennis courts, you’ll want to pay attention to this. And if you’re any other kind of sports facility, you’ll also want to pay attention. Actually, everyone listen up — this is an idea that health clubs and fitness centers can capitalize on too.
In May, as part of a promotional effort started jointly by the Tennis Industry Association, the Professional Tennis Registry, and the United States Professional Tennis Association’s Tennis Across America program, sports facilities and certified teaching pros around the country will take part in Try Tennis — a program to offer free tennis lessons. Any facility with tennis courts can sign up here to participate; tennis-playing aspirants can find participating facilities on the same website. The possible result for you? Free advertising and perhaps new long-term members.
The sponsoring associations based their decision to launch Try Tennis on industry research showing that 65 percent of players who begin tennis in an introductory program continue with the sport. Offering free classes or lessons is a way of getting potential players hooked.
You can see why I wanted you all to listen up — this is a widely adaptable idea. If you’re a facility with a focus on baseball, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, hockey — any sport — you can work on getting a Try [Your Sport] promotion going industry wide. If you’re a gym, you can think about a Try a Trainer month, or a Try Zumba (or other workout class) month. Pushing a promotion on a huge scale, like the tennis initiative, might feel beyond your scope; if that’s the case, try it with a few other facilities in your network or your region, or just launch a similar program in your facility alone. However you’re able to manage it, a full month of free lessons is likely to draw potential new members, a good number of whom will stay on after the promotion ends.
The idea can be applied in all types of facilities and can be carried out in a number of ways. You could do as the tennis folks are doing and make it a month-long promotion. If you’re a facility with fewer resources, make it a week’s event, or even just a single day’s. Of course, however you end up designing it, you’ll want to spread the word widely. If you’re doing it in conjunction with other facilities, consider setting up a website like the Try Tennis one. If you’re going solo, give it a big headline on your own website’s landing page, and shout about it on your social media channels. Ask your current members to let others know; ask them to bring their friends.
Equally important: Keep track of the numbers. Make sure you count the people who take part (and get their names and contact info for follow-up). Then count the number of people who sign up for long-term instruction or general membership. You’ll want to know whether the effort pays off for you. In your niche, is it also the case that 65 percent who begin playing continue on? Maybe not, but either way, you want to have the data available. Then, if it works, do it every year!

Use Your Club Size To Your Advantage

Use Your Club Size To Your Advantage

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Over on the IHRSA blog, there’s an interesting post about how small gyms in rural towns tackle the unique challenges they face. It’s true that for any health club or sports facility with a small pool of members and clients to draw from, there are difficulties that clubs in more populous places don’t experience. You might compete with larger clubs nearby, vying hard for attention against brand-name franchises. Or you might struggle to fill up your classes or operate programs or leagues that are tricky to manage without a certain bulk enrollment.

The best strategy? Use your club size to your advantage. Sisters Athletic Club, in Sisters, Oregon, makes a point of creating a homelike atmosphere in its facility. First of all, the gym provides no membership cards. Instead, even though the club boasts 1,600 members, employees are required to know every member and greet them by name when they enter. Here’s where small-town advantages come into play: The town has only 2,000 residents. Chances are, the member entering is your neighbor anyway. Also, the club strives to create an anti-gym feel. Outside, the 19,000-square-foot facility looks like a lodge. Inside, a rock formation fills the lobby, classical music infuses the air, and an art gallery spreads out near the front desk. You can’t see the cardio court from the entrance, and you don’t smell anything that even vaguely suggests you’re in a gym. The hominess is complemented by fastidiousness; everything is spotless.

Playing up the sense that the facility is an extension of their members’ homes is crucial for Sisters Athletic, in part because the club’s biggest competitor is nature. There’s so much skiing, biking, and hiking nearby that the facility has to give members the sense that they’re getting something they can’t possibly get outdoors. It’s precisely its small, comfortable feel that allows it to do so.

The situation for B-Fit 24/7 Fitness in Adrian, Michigan, is different: The local population consists of 24,000 and there are big-name competitors not too far away. So, B-Fit has a bigger pool to draw from than Sisters Athletic Club, but there are more options for the folks who make up that pool. B-Fit has to really stand apart from the crowd in order to create a loyal clientele and attract new members.

Their solution? The club has made itself the only one in the area that’s open 24 hours, and it pitches itself as the “ungym” — unlike the traditional gym model, B-Fit does not require members to sign a contract, and it refunds members who don’t reach their goals. Also, the club works hard to forge relationship with the 80 percent of the population that isn’t naturally exercise-oriented.

For sports facilities in similar positions — either with only a tiny pool to draw from or with big-fish competitors nearby and a relatively small pool of potential clients — smart marketing, along with lots of event hosting, might be the key. Looking to fill up your baseball league? Try putting up flyers in towns one to two hours away; parents will go surprisingly far to keep their kids interested in an activity, and adult players who are committed enough to join a league probably won’t mind the travel. As far as events go, don’t limit yourself to birthday parties. Put the idea in the minds of potential customers that you are there for all occasions, from celebrations for specific events and holidays to celebrations for no reason at all.

The overriding lesson is this: What you think are weaknesses might be turned to advantages. Exaggerate the very qualities that seem limiting — your small size, the restricted pool you’re in — and figure out what about those things might appeal to those around you.

Brand Identity

Brand Identity

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We all know how confusing a mixed message can be. Somebody tells you one thing and then does another, and you’re left wondering what exactly happened. Did you misunderstand something? Have you misinterpreted? Most of all, can you still trust the person in question?
While it can be bewildering when it happens between individuals, it can be downright damaging when it happens between an individual and a business, especially when the business thrives on retaining members. So, it might be time to review the messages you’re sending your clientele and make sure you’re not putting conflicting signals out there. To that end, a few pieces of advice:
1) Consider your free offers carefully. Some gyms have been known to offer pizza days, bagel days, even doughnut or candy days. While such food giveaways might make members happy, they can undermine your primary messaging. You want your members to believe that you care about their health — sure, a slice of pizza or a bagel once a month never hurt anyone, but let the strip mall down the street supply those. If you do it, how believable are you going to sound when you tell your members they need to exercise and eat properly to lose weight? And if you don’t sound believable and they don’t lose the weight, are they going to renew their membership when the time comes?
Of course, you could give away candy or bagels—even bagels slathered in cream cheese or butter—if you hand out with them, say, a chart that shows how many push-ups a person would need to do to burn off those calories, or how many miles they’d need to run on the treadmill. Again, it’s about consistent messaging.
2) Check how inclusive you’re being. Unless your facility is an elite training center or something similar, chances are you don’t want to turn away any potential clients. Are your flyers, advertisements, social media postings, and other promotional materials inclusive, with people of all colors, genders, sizes, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds represented? Will an overweight person or a Spanish-speaker or a transgender individual feel alienated? Try to consider your messaging from as many different points of view as possible, asking yourself whether you might be unintentionally shutting anyone out.
3) Pay attention to your grammar. I know this one makes me sound like your ninth-grade English teacher, but it’s important. In this day and age, when so much of a company’s identity depends on the words it strings together on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, in emails, and on websites, proper grammar—along with careful spelling and punctuation—is crucial. This is especially the case if your messaging is about achieving excellence, pushing yourself, going over and above, and the like. If you want to keep your credibility, you have to show your own willingness to achieve excellence, to push yourself. Even if your clientele cares more about a good workout than a well-crafted sentence, on some level evidence of carelessness will have an effect.
In the end, it’s about having a solid brand identity and continually working to strengthen that identity. Tweaking small details and taking the time to reflect on the messages you’re conveying can make a big difference.

FDA’s New Nutrition Labels

FDA’s New Nutrition Labels

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For twenty years, Americans have known that if they want information about a food product’s nutritional content, they can check the label. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a change to the labels we’ve grown used to. The government organization wants to replace out-of-date serving sizes; highlight certain parts of the label, such as calories and serving sizes; and include information about nutrients some consumers aren’t getting enough of, like Vitamin D and potassium. “To remain relevant,” explained FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., “the FDA’s newly proposed nutrition facts label incorporates the latest in nutrition science as more has been learned about the connection between what we eat and the development of serious chronic diseases impacting millions of Americans.”
First, bravo FDA. It isn’t always the case that policies and laws are revised to accommodate findings from new research. Given what we know about nutrition and chronic disease that we didn’t know twenty years ago, the proposed new label has the potential to help improve the health of a great number of people.
Second, now’s your chance, health clubs and sports centers. You are better positioned than most other institutions to educate the public about the proposed new labels, and to use the FDA’s new nutrition labels as a way to boost your visibility and desirability. By being among the first to spread the news about the labels, and by linking the news to your own programs and offerings, you’ll remain relevant to your clientele in a way that can work only to your benefit.
As a fitness center, gym, health club, or sports facility, you probably already spend some time and other resources on keeping your members and clients informed about nutrition. (If you don’t, what are you waiting for? If people don’t get such information from you, they’ll get it from elsewhere. If you provide it, you have an immediate way of establishing how essential your facility is to health maintenance — along with how generously you provide value-added services.) There are many ways you can teach your clientele about the proposed new labels. Search FDA’s website for an example, and blow it up to poster size for prominent display somewhere in the gym. Invite people to speak with resident nutritional experts or trainers about the changes. Host a lecture by a nutrition advisor who can explain the changes and their significance. Invite the general public to the lecture as well as members — what better opportunity for attracting new members? Have instructors take a few minutes at the beginning or end of class sessions to explain and describe the new labels.
The goals here are to make yourself the source of the information, get a dialogue going within your four walls, emphasize your facility’s commitment to clients’ health, and prove yourself a dedicated member of a larger community. In the past, fitness centers and sports facilities were not expected to do much more than provide a place for a good workout or league game. The FDA is keeping up with changing times; make sure that you are too.