June, July, August — 92 days filled with no school, great weather, family reunions, vacations, ball games and cookouts. Club members, as well as fitness instructors, flock outside to the sunshine and water. How then are we, as fitness directors, to keep class participation high and classes covered with qualified instructors? Well, there's still time to save the summer.

The key to success may be in keeping those dedicated, “we're there every day” members coming in the door. You know those members — the ones that are waiting for you — they've set your step up and turned on the fans before you've entered the building. Those dedicated members are your best bet to keeping the studio full during the summer months and even over the slow times throughout the year.

Implementing special events, friendly competitions, short-term classes and acknowledging participation with desirable rewards are solid ways to keep participation high in the group fitness room. Try a few of the activities that have worked for us at Global Fitness Holding/Gold's Gym over the past several years. (Many of our classes maintain a participation level of 40+ participants throughout the year.)

FRIENDLY COMPETITIONS

  • Summer months: Each summer, Global Fitness/Gold's Gym Group Fitness implements a friendly competition between members. Competition runs from June 1 through Aug. 31. Members receive stickers for participating in each class they attend. Participation charts are placed throughout the club to encourage interest. Distribution of double stickers for a class that may be in a slow time slot is a great way to encourage participation. Members can receive additional stickers for bringing a guest or perhaps donating items to a charity. Focusing on specific classes can also encourage members to try a type of class they may have been hesitant about in the past. Prizes are awarded for the top 25 to 50 participants.

  • The dreaded winter wipeout (Halloween through Christmas): This time of year is the perfect opportunity to encourage members to commit to a certain number of workouts during the designated time frame. Commit, attend, document and receive a reward. (Note: The average amount of weight Americans gain from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day is 11 pounds.

  • Short-term classes: Many times, members have every intention of attending a class, but because it is a staple on the schedule they put it off until next week. Next week becomes next month and so on. Scheduling classes that are offered for only a short time, two to four weeks, can give that member the extra nudge to commit. Programming with the weather and outdoor sports in mind offer added enticement. For example: yoga for golfers/skiers, sports conditioning for the weekend warrior, indoor cycling training for the winter months, spring break boot(y) camp for the college student to prepare for that bathing suit, commit to get fit for the New Year — talk to your members, they'll tell you what they're planning to do and schedule accordingly.

  • Special events: Special events should be just that — an event or class that is not offered on a regular basis — an event that is promoted three to four weeks prior to its premier. Many times, special events are lost somewhere between the group fitness studio and the front desk. Be sure that all staff members know about the event and can answer questions regarding day, time and type of event.

Special events are a great way to develop a relationship with the sales staff and events that encourage members to bring guests to the club will create a new excitement. One-time fitness extravaganzas may include: Yoga in the Park: team up with your local parks department; Bikini Boot(y) camp; Pedal for the Pups: an extended indoor ride for cycling enthusiasts to collect donations for your local humane society.

The opportunities for special events, short-term classes and friendly group fitness competitions are endless. Don't be afraid to use the calendar to your advantage. Holidays, club anniversaries, major sporting events and even local celebrations are all opportunities for success.

Wendy Jett is Global Fitness Holdings, Gold's Gym group fitness director. She can be reached by phone at 859-983-8384 or via e-mail at wjett@ggtko.com.

Qualifications of an RD

In order to be recognized as a qualified dietitian in most states, a person must possess a baccalaureate or higher degree in nutritional sciences from an accredited college or university, satisfactorily complete a program of supervised clinical experience approved by the Commission on Dietetic Accreditation of the American Dietetic Association, pass a national credentialing examination and maintain continuing education.