Ann Gilbert, director of Fitness for Shapes Total Fitness for Women, leads a team of 16 fitness managers and more than 250 personal trainers and group fitness professionals. She is well-known as a presenter and has received the IHRSA/ACE Trainer of the Year Award. For the past 10 years, she has served as a faculty board member for the Fitness Academy, an educational resource for continuing education in the Tampa Bay, FL, area. She can be reached at annfitt@verizon.net.

Having a clear understanding of why people participate in a boot camp, why the camp setting is so attractive and why popular trainers choose to jump into boot camp programming will allow a fitness director to launch an indoor boot camp program that can increase retention, referrals and revenue within the club.

When interviewed, boot camp members cited having the freedom to choose a time to work out, having a say in what open space to meet and having the ability to break away from the boredom of repetitive group fitness programming as the main reasons that they chose a boot camp programming option.

Higher wage percentages, the ability to set one’s own hours and not having to conform to a club’s system of operation are reasons many trainers break away and launch an outdoor camp. Most trainers purchase a start-up kit, complete with instructions on marketing, programming and creating a professional business plan, but they have a concern with their ability to retain campers and assure a regular income. By offering indoor boot camps that some of your valued trainers can lead, you can offer these trainers a steady stream of participants and income.

Here are simple steps to make your indoor camp a success:

1. Hire the right people. The success of any new programming within your facility starts with having the right professionals on board. You must establish an in-house training program that includes a focus on marketing, prospecting and sales. Then, recruit trainers and instructors who want to make a career change or who want to make fitness a full-time job with health and insurance benefits. Look for those wanting to work on a team that allows the professional to have a bit more flexibility and variety in scheduling camps. Create a hiring package that can be used when recruiting in-house, online and within the community. Finally, design a launch kit that includes how to design and sell a program within the walls of the facility.

2. Profit sharing. To attract the right trainers, you must have an attractive profit sharing option for them. Offer incentives for your trainers and instructors to assist in growing the camps. Create a system of monthly or quarterly reviews to assure the professionals focus on increasing participation from within the member base. Focus on the number of members they can market to within the club setting and discuss the benefit of having a renewal and referral base from which to pull. Create a new member integration or hand-off system where new members, or those taking camps on the outside, can be directed specifically toward the new programming.

3. Make space. Before you can get started, you need to ensure you have space for your indoor camp. Design a setting for your camp. If possible, remove outdated equipment and create an exclusive space, allowing the campers the freedom they have had in the outdoor setting. Make room for tires, ladders, ropes and steps. Formulate your own in-house obstacle course using the less populated areas of the facility. Move cardio equipment and other stationary pieces so that the members can watch the action while burning calories.

4. Establish a schedule. The boot camp must be held day or night, rain or shine, and whether or not a trainer is available on that day. Once on your schedule and part of the branded programming options, the goal is that the member knows the camp will always be held. Training a team of coaches will help to establish the program as part of your brand and will allow the trainer to forecast a steady income, making working for a facility a more attractive career option.

5. Market the new programming in-house and throughout the community. The marketing focus must be on how the camper will achieve optimal results and maximum safety while participating in the indoor camp. Note the benefits of not having to plan around environmental challenges, weather changes or not having enough participants to hold the session. Speak about the level of certification your trainers have and the required training they go through. Create a feeling of security by displaying AED and first-aid equipment within the area. Schedule demonstrations or clinics so all know what to expect firsthand when participating in the programming.

6. Use success stories and testimonials. Marketing your indoor boot camps by using testimonials of members who have had success with these options will drive members to investigate the popular programming option. Claims of faster results, spot reducing, an increase in self-esteem and a new jump-start on a fitness program are the ways that a boot camp instructor can motivate a member to jump into the programming. Seldom will you see a mention of personalization, one-on-one attention or personal fitness assessment. Instead, the focus is on action, intensity, group competition and ways to stimulate the participant to strive to new levels.

7. Always return to the “why.” Those who participate in boot camps do so because they seek results. Few look for equipment, a class lineup or even one-on-one attention. Most want the feeling of success that the militaristic formats can bring. Most desire to be driven to new heights, to be taken beyond where they can go alone—and they want to do so in a group setting. Price is not a concern for most. As you and your staff give tours of the club, make sure to read all the testimonials, stop at the marketing displays that show the members in action, and highlight the results that the participants get because of the boot camp.