Laurie Cingle, M.Ed., is the program director for Club Northwest and president of Club Programming Resources, specializing in retention, wellness, weight management and fitness programs. She can be reached at clubprogrammingresources@charter.net.




Whether your programs are created by someone on your staff, purchased from a vendor or modified from a program that another club has successfully implemented, you must rely on the abilities of the program’s “champion” to see to its success.

Champions are hard to come by. Realistically, you and your team may not have the time, the creativity, the resources or the champion to continuously think up, design, discover and implement new programs every few months. Instead of starting something new, look at your existing programs, and use the following six tips to spice them up.

1. Change the program name. Do you have a program that was successful in the past, but recently participation has dwindled to the point where you are contemplating canceling it? Simply renaming the program can give it a boost. One club offered a nutrition program for three years called Build a New You that was very popular. When the program champion left the company, the program was turned over to her replacement; same program, different champion. Under the new champion, program participation dropped significantly. Rather than cancel it, it was renamed Intuitive Eating. By giving this program a new name, the replacement was able to put her own mark on the program.

2. Change the program prize. Many programs offer a prize for successful completion. You can give away a small gift like a T-shirt to all the participants or a significant prize of great value to only one or two people. Typical high-value prizes tend to be trips to Jamaica, cruises and ski packages, but what about a prize that is closer to home or longer-lasting? Consider offering one year of free club dues or arrange with a local car dealer to give away a one-year lease on a car. Advertise the program and the prize to the community so both your club and the car dealer can get exposure.

3. Change the destination. My favorite program at our club is called Team Trek. Teams of four members exercise and attend lectures to earn points or “miles” over an eight-week period. Each team must earn 10,000 miles within the eight weeks. To keep participants motivated, the 10,000-mile journey is broken into four legs with four different destinations. In past years, we have used various U.S. cities as our destinations. This year, our members will “tour” Europe. Our prize for reaching each destination will be T-shirts from the clubs in the countries we choose.

4. Get a guest speaker. Invite a local celebrity (television or radio personality), well-known medical professional or someone who recently did something extraordinary that made the news (like going to the Olympics) to the club. Find out who is going to be doing a book signing at your local bookstore, and contact them to see if they would be willing to stop by your club on the day they are in your area. Ask them to deliver a short presentation to participants to either kick off the program or boost motivation midway through the program.

5. Add an additional service. Our 12-week Ultimate Fitness and Nutrition Program consists of a structured eating plan, 24 training sessions, weekly educational lectures and three fitness assessments. The program is more popular than ever before. This year we have added an exercising metabolic training assessment to determine participants’ anaerobic threshold for cardiovascular training. This gives the program more value, and it will also give participants a good experience with our new technology in hopes that they will consider continuing to receive metabolic reassessments.

6. Have a drawing. No matter how large or small the program, ask your personal trainers, nutritionists, swim instructors, massage therapists, pro shop manager and any other person who delivers a service at your club to donate a service, program or merchandise. Ask area businesses to donate their service in exchange for listing their name in conjunction with your program. A drawing creates excitement for the program participants, increases awareness of other club programs, services and merchandise, and increases program participation.

Spicing up your existing programs keeps them fresh. If the program is dwindling, give it a shot in the arm. If the program is still strong, keep the momentum going by improving it. Adding some spice keeps members interested and staff enthused.