Quick Checklist: The Health of Your Team

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When energy radiates within a team, productivity is at its peak. The spread of energy through a motivational speech has an incredible effect on the audience. Think of pro wrestling and game show hosts as examples of different energy. Both use short, simple phrases but bring the same stimulation from their audience. But there is a difference between both examples. The difference is confidence and enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm & Confidence

“Just do it!” and “You got this!” are much more different than what we think. Confidence is a buildup of self-esteem from within whereas enthusiasm has a higher chance of reaching a broader audience. When publishing outlets share motivational stories, they narrate the content with phrases like “This man reminds us to never give up!” that engage the audience and make them feel related to the story. Most motivational stories on their own, carry confidence rather than enthusiasm, so it is often the messenger’s job to add detail around the story to reach the audience.

Highlight the Little Things

Social media has brought attention to a lot of the little things in life. Relatable images, gifs and such are shared, spread, and watched by the millions of viewers every day. But popularity isn’t the only reason to highlight the little goals in your business, it’s a great opportunity to boost the human aspect of your business. A staff member got to the office extra early? Ask them to take a selfie and share it on your Twitter/FB page. Did someone bring a homemade healthy workout meal with them to work? Ask them to post a picture with the recipe in the text. You can even be a bit more marketing savvy and release ingredients only to the followers who like your post to encourage follower engagement!

Getting To Know Your Team More

Knowing your staff should be just as important as knowing your clientele. Which is a seemingly obvious standard for maintaining a good work ethic. However, going a bit deeper can also improve productivity in some areas. One way to start this objective is to identify the reactive and the active individuals in your group. It’s possible that not all members of your team will be recipient to situations in the same manner. For example, if a child has a minor injury while playing sports, one staff may go to the child first while another may contact the first aid kit. Both reactions are right in their own way, but effectively determining the character of each staff member can help you decide who and where to assign your team members.


The Checklist: The Health Of Your Gym

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Warning: This is going to be a hard read if you’re eating.

It’s a bit ironic, that facilities for our health can pose bacterial harm if not properly cleaned. Although places like gyms are not number one on the list of highly germ populated public locations, they can be one of the most common areas to contract bacteria.

Nobody wants to think about all these microscopic germs and particles that coexist among us but to have a healthy fitness center inside and out, one must be properly equipped with both the knowledge, products and —oh your facility is well cleaned? Excellent! Now, how much do you spread that information around? It’s very well worth turning a quick spotlight on the cleanliness of your facility. Especially when the USA ranks number 28 out of the 188 healthiest nations despite being one of the most health data indulgent countries in the world.

So it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to remind the public you care about the shape of your gym right? Right! Here’s how to take advantage of a hygienic presence.

Provide Easy Access For Sanitation

You sneeze and there’s no tissue in sight. Here’s a worse situation. You sneeze into a tissue and there’s no trash container nearby! Avoid these minor inconveniences by providing disposable soaps, hand wipes or non-alcoholic hand sanitizers and easily accessible waste bins throughout your facility so your clients don’t have to interrupt their workout for long. They don’t have to be every two feet but a good presence of complementary products will give members a good impression of cleanliness in association with your business identity.

Establish You Have a Cleaning Schedule

Whenever that time for the full scrub overhaul of your facility comes around—that’s the chance to show off your results. Take a picture of your pristine facility and post in online. You could even incorporate fitness into the mix because who say’s scrubbing an entire building isn’t a workout? Or that just the act of cleaning is the only sign of a healthy gym? Share pictures of upgrades, new installations, or even a photo of yourself arriving early! Fresh products, an active mind, and up to date materials express not just a business but a business owner who knows when to make the right decision.

Signs & Reminders

One of the most common of contagions caught at facilities of mobility are skin infections. (Gross I know, but stay with me.) The reasons for these skin infections are due to the unfortunate contact with deposits of leftover sweat on shared exercise equipment and or materials. (How are you doing? Good! We’re going get through this!) The best way this can be avoided is reminders such as: “Always Wash Hands After A Workout”, “Shower after A Swim Please.” and “Remember Scandals On While Showering”. Have any of these signs in your gym? Personalize them a bit, maybe station yourself in front of it for a quick selfie on social media. The more human involvement the better. Just no sweat!

Show you’re a good example

The image of the business owner and staff is everything. Clean clothes clean hair etc. We’re not suggesting to have your staff share their selfies all over your social media but rather to have them included within photos of otherwise stagnant objects. Have cool new health advice to share about pink noises and its ability to improve sleep? Send out an email to you clients! Have new flyers ready to be sent out around the local area? Have one of your staff smiling on the side and snap a picture for social media sharing! There are numerous ways to apply human engagement and interactions to health and safety measures. One way to ensure you have someone on the floor making it happen is with our Employee Time Clock feature. Set up a task for the staff member of your choice so there’s no confusion on whose job it is to post selfies with the clients!

If you are wondering more about effective examples of gym management software, we recommend signing up for a free demonstration of one the most highly experienced, ranked, and trusted gym management software solutions.

nutritional facts

Working Together to Fight Obesity

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Really? We’re getting fatter? Sigh. It’s so disheartening, especially when the news seems full of reports about this health trend or that one, about the rise of wearable fitness technology and how data-tracking has revolutionized individual exercise plans, about the extraordinary progress a person can make by exercising intensely for small periods of time, about ever-increasing awareness of nutritional realities. Nevertheless, this is what the most recent report from the United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association, and the Partnership from Prevention tells us: We’re getting fatter.

Issued annually for the past 25 years, the report, called America’s Health Rankings, tracks state-by-state health and fitness data. The most recently released report shows that in 2014 the nation’s obesity rate rose nearly 2 percent, from 27.6 percent last year to 29.4 percent this year. That 2 percent figure may sound small, but it represents an extremely large number of individuals. Moreover, at the time surveys for the report were completed, nearly a quarter of respondents said that they had had no physical activity or exercise for 30 days. That number increased from 22.9 percent in 2013 to 23.5 percent this year. And the even more grim news? In the 25 years that America’s Health Rankings have been published, obesity in the United States has more than doubled.

The question for us becomes: How can we, all of us who are leaders in the fitness industry, do more? How can we attract the people who are not inclined to exercise, and how can we help reverse the trend?

The key, I believe, is partnerships. One gym or health club or sports facility or fitness center can do only so much, and whatever we each can do, we have to do while keeping the bottom line always in mind (or else we won’t be around to do anything at all!). But a whole network of gyms and health clubs and sports facilities and fitness centres can do a lot. Make it part of your facility’s mission to work with other facilities to help improve America’s overall health. Join programs that allow members to work out at partner facilities at a discount. Combine resources to offer free or heavily discounted training and exercise programs to individuals who can’t afford normal gym rates. Get other facilities in your area to help host a day of city- or town-wide exercise fun.

But don’t stop at other facilities. The fact is, exercise is only one part of the overall health picture. Obesity numbers won’t drop until the food industry finds a better way of providing affordable, healthy food to the population at large; until health insurance companies start seeing health club memberships as reimbursable sickness-prevention tools; until schools bring back physical education and more effectively educate children about health and exercise science. If you’re going to be a part of the force chipping away at our rising obesity rates, you’ve got to consider ways of working with a whole network of organizations and industries that have an impact on individuals’ health and fitness. We can reverse the crisis. But we can only do it together.

gym community

Creating Opportunities for Better Mental Health

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Philadelphia’s Drexel University recently installed a mental health kiosk in the lobby of its recreation center. Part of a pilot program initiated by the nonprofit organization Screening for Mental Health, Inc. and the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual Disability Services, the kiosk enables users to conduct quick, anonymous self-assessments to gauge their risk for mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and eating disorders, and provides information about the next step to take if treatment seems warranted.

Gyms, health clubs, exercise boutiques, and sports centres could take a cue from Drexel. After all, creating opportunities for fitness is about more than just encouraging people to keep their bodies in great shape. And retaining members requires efforts above and beyond simply providing the equipment to help them meet their weight-loss or fitness goals. It’s also necessary to promote overall wellness, so that your members leave your facility recognizing the degree to which it enriches their lives. If the physical part of the wellness equation is taken care of but the mental part is ignored, then they won’t feel they’ve achieved true fitness.

So maybe it’s time to consider how your facility could help members and clients work on their mental health alongside their physical health. Installing a kiosk like Drexel’s is one way to go. When your members come in for a workout, they could stop by the kiosk and take a self-assessment to determine whether their mental wellbeing is at risk. If so, depending on their results, they could get specific guidance regarding helpful steps to take for prevention or healing. Another option might be hiring a full- or part-time psychotherapist or licensed social worker. It might sound strange, but if you conceive of your facility as one with a mission to provide a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, it makes good sense. After or before a workout, or after performing a self-assessment at the mental health kiosk, members could sit down with the onsite therapist to discuss what’s troubling them.

Can your facility accommodate a pet room? If so, consider taking on board a therapy dog; this, in fact, is another approach that Drexel has undertaken. Drawing on studies that have shown that playing with a therapy dog can reduce blood pressure and lower anxiety and depression, the university’s recreation center hosts its own therapy dog (Jersey), who is available for sessions to help students cope with stress.

Other possibilities: Invite speakers knowledgeable on mental-health topics to address an audience made up of your members (and prospectives) and answer questions they might have. Hold a mental health fair, inviting local agencies, mental health providers, and meditation experts to come set up booths where your clientele can explore options for mental health upkeep. Increase your yoga, meditation, and other mind-body offerings, explicitly pitching them to members as initiatives designed to help them identify and/or address mental health issues.

For several years now, as gyms, sports centres, and other fitness facilities have expanded their offerings and redefined the concept of the health club, colleges and universities have been similarly expanding the role of their campus recreation centres. The campus rec center model, with its focus on providing educational programming and activities that aim to introduce lifelong habits for a healthy lifestyle, might be a good one for the fitness industry to adapt. The better our members and clients feel, and the more attention we pay to their overall health, the more likely they are to retain their memberships. And that’s ultimately what we want: for them to feel good enough that they keep coming back and keep coming back.

Staying hydrated

Encouraging Proper Hydration

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Last weekend, my nine-year-old asked me to pack three bottles of water for his soccer match: one he could drink before the game and at half-time, one that I’d stuck in the freezer that he wanted to let partially melt so he could have it cold after the game, and one he could dump over his head when he felt too hot. When we got home, to my astonishment, I found all three bottles empty.

It was a good reminder for me. Athletes — whether they’re kids, varsity level, or pro players — get thirsty. The same goes for everyday exercisers. There’s a lot in the news about preventing and treating concussions, teaching gym members treadmill safety, setting swimming pool limits to prevent overexertion, and the like, but you don’t hear enough about the risks of dehydration. The fact is, fitness facilities, sports centres, coaches, trainers, and health club managers have as much of a responsibility to keep their members, clients, and players educated about hydration as they do to protect them from muscle or head injury.

So how do you do that? First, realize that many exercisers and athletes do not know that it’s dangerous to wait until thirst kicks in to take a drink. Studies have shown that most people underestimate their water needs; one researcher found that 98 percent of the members of one college football team started out daily workouts underhydrated. It’s important, then, to begin by reminding clients to drink water frequently. If you run a gym or other kind of fitness facility, have your instructors or personal trainers make periodic announcements reminding folks to take a swig. At sports centres, mandate frequent water breaks. In all facilities, put up posters that highlight the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s rule of thumb: Drink 7 to 10 ounces — about one cup or a little more — of water or a sports drink every 10 to 20 minutes during a workout. And consider installing a water cooler next to the exit with cute signs that draw attention to it.

Of course, social media is a great way to get the message across too. Start a hydration awareness campaign on Twitter, posting a daily tweet with facts about how much water the body needs. Put up relevant videos and photos on Facebook so anyone visiting your page will see that you’re serious about hydration. Another possibility: Consider partnering up with a bottled-water company for innovative ways to spread the word. Perhaps the bottled-water supplier would agree to giving away free bottles to your members and clients one day, or to co-hosting a hydration awareness day fair at your facility.

The more creative you are about getting the message across, the more effective your message will be. And your campaign will benefit your facility as much as it does your customers: It’ll give you a new platform for getting your name out there; it will establish your facility as a caring, community-minded one; it could help lessen your liability if an unfortunate event involving dehydration occurs; and it will give you chance to help improve the lives of exercisers and athletes everywhere.

Now please excuse me while I go fill up a dozen bottles to stick in my refrigerator and freezer for my son’s next match this coming weekend.

Creating Classes for the Cool Kids

Creating Classes for the Cool Kids

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When you think of exercise classes for the 8- to 13-year-old set, you probably think “ballet” and “karate.” You probably leave instruction in those fields to the kinds of niche studios that have been catering to children’s physical activities for decades. But things are changing in the world of kids’ calisthenics. Classes are no longer limited to the traditional ballet and karate. Now, kids are engaging in workouts that have fueled adult fitness for a while; such as cycling, Zumba, and CrossFit. Those workouts are happening not at kids’ boutiques, but in health clubs, gyms, and fitness outlets that are used to serve an adult population almost exclusively. The New York Times recently published an article about the phenomenon (and you know something is becoming a trend if the New York Times is reporting on it). The article features several gyms of various sizes and orientations that have launched classes created for adults, which were then subsequently adapted to meet the needs of smaller, more energetic types. Exceed Physical Culture, in New York City, is one of them.

Since 2012, the gym has offered adult classes involving jump ropes, monkey bars, and kettlebells. Soon after opening, owner Catherine Rocco discovered that parents seeking after-school activities for their kids were bringing them in and expecting to sign up. Rocco and her co-owner responded to that demand by creating a class for ages 8 to 13. Very soon after, they found themselves offering five classes per week for children only, and another for families on the weekends. AKT in Motion is the second company that offers classes just for kids. Based in New York, the dance cardio studio launched a regular eight-week session for children this past spring. Capitalizing partly on shrinking physical education time at school and on those late-afternoon hours when gyms and similar venues tend to get quiet, companies like these are finding kids eager for physical outlets that are not necessarily team or competition focused.

They’re finding parents eager for activities that keep their children happy, busy, and physically fit. That last point is key: In an era when obesity among children and teens is at an all-time high, parents want to get kids hooked on exercise early. According to the Times article, many parents take that a step further by enrolling their kids in classes at a gym. Parents are trying to convey a sense that getting a membership at a place where you can work out regularly is simply a normal part of life.

This is good news for gyms, health clubs, fitness centres, and other alike. Children’s classes pull in no less revenue than adults’ classes! In fact, they create a whole new revenue stream because they engage a separate segment of the population. Also, they offer venues the chance to create loyalty among a clientele that might develop those early gym-going habits their parents are hoping for and then stick around for a long time. The upshot? If you haven’t yet opened your doors to young ones, it’s time to sit down and start strategizing about how you’re going to do so. Start small, like the way Exceed Physical Culture did: Launch just one class, but have a plan for expanding. Because chances are, you’ll need to do so pretty quickly.

Helping Your Clients Through Injuries

Helping Your Clients Through Injuries

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The other day, a friend of mine told me an interesting story. She’s no athlete, but for 2014 she made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape. She starting running three days a week and she joined a gym. Against all odds, she stuck with her resolution, and ten months into it she looks great and says she feels better than she ever has. Except for her ankle. About three months after she launched her new workout routine, my friend twisted her ankle, and it’s never been quite the same.
I asked her how she manages to stay committed to an exercise program even with an injury. Wasn’t she tempted just to quit? This is where the interesting story comes in: She was tempted to quit, my friend said. She was on the verge of doing so. But the staff at her gym encouraged and supported her so much that she felt she couldn’t.
Shocking, isn’t it? But it shouldn’t be. This is how it should work. After my friend left the ER months and months ago, she headed straight to her gym. She had reserved a spot in a spin class for that morning, and she couldn’t imagine not going through with the class (even though her doctor had told her to keep her foot up and rest). By the time she reached the front desk, though, my friend broke down—her ankle clearly hurt too much for a spin class that day. My friend feared it hurt too much to allow for exercise ever again, and, through tears, told the front desk staff she wanted to cancel her membership. The receptionist came around from behind the desk and gave my friend a hug. She listened to the problem, and then walked her down the hall to the office of the gym’s Fitness Concierge.
The concierge told her to relax. “She said it was okay to miss a class. She said it was no big deal. Then she made me tea and handed me a chocolate chip cookie. She claimed it was a healthy version of the standard recipe, but she said it with a wink, and then I realized that it’s okay to miss class for a day, or even a week. It’s okay to eat a cookie if it makes you feel better. Because of her words and kindness, a great rush of relief went through me and I could think clearly again. Somehow, I needed her permission to not be a perfect exerciser.” The concierge also pulled over a chair so my friend could put her foot up, told her she could stay there in her office for as long as she liked, and started cracking jokes. “Soon she had me laughing about people falling over during aerobics classes,” my friend said. She squeezed her in for a consultation with a personal trainer who had experience dealing with injuries and with a physical therapist. The trainer gave her tips for adapting her workout. The physical therapist showed her simple stretches she could do to speed up her recovery.
I love this story. I love that my friend’s gym offered immediate, personalized comfort and care—and that it was true for everyone from the front desk staff to the physical therapist. I actually called her gym and asked for a tour, even though I’m fond of my own facility; I’m considering switching now. How are things at your facility? Does your staff know how to help clients handle injuries? Can they reassure an injured client and help him or her figure out how to push ahead with workout goals safely? Can they offer something we don’t usually expect from places of business—a bit of mothering? These things could go a long way toward boosting member retention and gaining new clients. Maybe it’s time to gather everyone together for a lesson on sympathetic responses.

Youth Obesity and You

Youth Obesity and You

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Earlier this year, reassuring news about childhood obesity emerged: For 2- to 5-year-olds, rates have plummeted 43 percent in the past decade. The data comes from a major federal health survey and is the first indication that America may be turning the corner on the childhood obesity epidemic. Given evidence that children who are overweight or obese at 3- to 5-years old are five times as likely to be overweight or obese as adults, this is very hopeful news.
But we’re not in the clear yet. It’s still the case, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that 20.5 percent of 12- to 19-year-olds—or 1 out of every 5 kids—are considered obese. Moreover, the CDC reports, only 12 percent of kids ages 12 to 15 are getting the amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity recommended by federal guidelines: 60 minutes each day. The consequences of childhood obesity, or simply of too little activity in childhood, can be disastrous later on: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, poor self-esteem, stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis—the list goes on and on.
Happily, health facilities, and in particular sports facilities that train youth, can make a big difference. First, help spread the word: Send newsletters, post on social media, hang up flyers in your facility, put up a billboard-sized sign in your window—however you do it, get the word out there that there is a problem. Use the numbers the CDC provides (they’re sadly impressive—for example: In 2010, more than one-third of American children and adolescents were overweight or obese). Also mention the good news: The fact that obesity rates for young children have dropped can be offered as a source of hope, and as motivation to continue making improvements.
Also, explicitly describe how your facility helps combat the dire figures. List the classes you offer that keep kids moving for at least 60 minutes; highlight any special deals parents can take advantage of. Invite new students in for free trial classes. Post videos showing kids having fun at your facility. If you’re a health club or fitness center that does not cater to kids, get the word out there anyway—and then explain why it’s crucial for parents, teachers, and other adult role models to stay in shape if they want future generations to stay in shape.
You can also consider doing what AussieFIT, a health club with two venues in Ohio, has done. In response to the CDC’s 2012 report, AussieFIT’s founder, Geoff Dyer, created a fitness initiative for local teens, offering free summer memberships to kids between the ages of 12 and 17. If such a program is impractical for your facility, perhaps there’s other programming—even if only educational workshops—you can offer.
If you help share the information that’s out there, show your members and clients (and potential members and clients) that you care, offer ways to make meaningful changes, and provide a free class or lecture to get folks started, you’ll be well on your way to both making a difference and boosting business.

Bringing a Taste of the Retreat into Everyday Life

Bringing the Taste of a Retreat into the Everyday Life

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Luxury health-fitness retreats have become something of a trend. Perhaps some of your members have tried them, or maybe you’ve given one a go yourself. If not, you can imagine the drill: At a beautiful resort somewhere exotic or simply far away from it all, you and your fellow companions spend a week or so hiking twelve miles a day, taking yoga and weight-training classes, and working out for as many hours as possible, and you do it all on about 1,200 calories a day (luckily, many such retreats also feature massages and facials, so be grateful).
Don’t get me wrong—I think this trend offers wonderful opportunities to people who want to kickstart a fitness regimen or who love a good workout and want to combine one with a vacation. There are many reasons why I’d jump at the chance to go on a fitness retreat myself. However, there are also many factors holding me back, several of which have to do simply with practical limitations: time, money, child care.
That got me thinking. What I really need is a luxury health-fitness retreat here at home. I need a week-long or ten-day crash course in intense exercise and healthy eating right here where I live and work. Boot camps, of course, abound in New York City and throughout the country, but what I want is something even more focused and intensive—something that gives me a sense of total immersion while also offering me a chance to get things done. I wonder if there’s an opportunity here for the gyms and health clubs, a hole to fill. It might be worth considering whether there’s a flexible form of health retreat that you could offer members (and nonmembers too, as a way to invite them to join your facility).
I imagine something that begins early in the morning, soon after I drop my son off at the bus stop. A two-hour class could ensue, followed by a healthy breakfast. Afterwards, there could be a three- or four-hour break for participants to get work done or run errands (and possibly wi-fi and lounge/workspace made available to those who want it). Another two-hour exercise period could follow the break, with a light lunch afterward—maybe offered while nutrition or fitness experts offer talks on the best ways to carry the effects of the retreat over into the everyday life. For the afternoon, childcare could be on offer while another class takes place, and after, everyone could be sent home with instructions for dinner. Facials and massages could also be offered on select days. Follow-up sessions in subsequent months might be something participants could elect to take part in for an extra fee.
Many variations of that scenario are possible, and it’s especially worth dreaming up options that might better suit office workers. No matter what form a hometown fitness retreat takes, the benefits could be immense, and not just for participants: Your club could find itself with a new revenue stream. Plus, as alluded to earlier, it can be an effective way to draw in new members (prospectives who take part in the program could be offered a discount on first month’s membership, or the like).

Become an Active Participant in Preventative Health Care

Become an Active Participant in Preventative Health Care

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Pomerene Hospital in Millersburg, Ohio, recently kicked off a deal to take over a local fitness center. The owner of the center approached the hospital, expressing an interest in a community collaborator. Seeing this idea as an opportunity to extend health care beyond its own walls, the hospital embraced it. Doing so, said Pomerene’s chief financial officer in a statement, is a first step towards aligning the hospital’s services with reform in the health industry—with the expanded focus to include a greater emphasis on wellness and preventative care.
I love this. It seems to me that all hospitals should run fitness centres, or at least partner with fitness centres to provide a more holistic set of health-related services. I feel this way about doctors’ offices too. I hate going to them partly because I resent the fact that I’m there in the first place. If I hadn’t gotten sick, or overstretched a muscle, or ignored the numbers creeping higher on the scale, then I wouldn’t have to be there. Sometimes, I am all too well aware of how prevention would have served me better than care.
Not all hospitals have the means or the resources to manage a fitness facility, and certainly not most doctors working independently. But they could at least actively take different approaches to encourage patients to focus on their own preventative care. They could give discounts on co-pays for patients who bring in a letter from a personal trainer, exercise instructor, or gym manager showing that they’ve worked out x number of times in the past month. Or, along with prescriptions, they could hand out certificates good for one free class at a local spin studio or for one free session at a gym. Hospitals, when they discharge patients who have the capacity to exercise, could give out vouchers for a free month’s membership at a health club. There are so many possibilities.
None of these can be realized, of course, if gyms, health clubs, fitness centres, exercise studios, and sports centres are not willing partners. The good news is that forming such partnerships could only be beneficial for businesses in our industry. Each certificate a doctor hands out or voucher a hospital gives away represents a potential new client. And new clients who find your facility through a health care professional or institution are ones that are likely to stay—a voice of authority is telling them loudly and clearly that there’s a link between how much they exercise and how healthy they stay. If nothing else, they’ll come to you to avoid having to go to their doctor or the hospital again.
If you haven’t already done so, maybe it’s time to start cultivating relationships with doctors and hospitals. Approach local ones with suggestions and offers; make it clear that you’re as interested in the health of the community as they are. That’s what the fitness center giving its management over to Pomerene Hospital has done. Honestly, I wouldn’t even need any incentives to join that fitness center; just knowing it’s managed by the same experts who understand my medical needs would be incentive enough.