Setting Up a High Quality Program for Weight Loss
According to the latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data, 61 percent of Americans are overweight, while 27 percent are obese.
Last year, the CDC reported that there had been a 57 percent increase in the number of obese Americans in the past eight years. To add insult to injury, a 1999 study of nearly 108,000 dieters (published in the Journal of the American Medical Association) concluded that 80 percent of people who start a diet pick one that is virtually guaranteed to fail.
In other words, there is an enormous need for fitness centers to provide high-quality weight-loss solutions. Here are some essential considerations when creating a weight-management program for your facility.
Choose a Program Backed by Research
With obesity out of control, it's easy to get sucked in by all the “fad” programs, diet books and supplements that are currently available. The Federal Trade Commission suggests that consumers shouldn't even consider a program which doesn't tell them that they will need to make changes in both their diet and physical activity to manage their weight. A successful program must address behaviors that support cutting calories while increasing physical activity.
Have Specified Staff Teach the Program
While this may seem simple, it is often overlooked. Coaching people toward physical activity and dietary changes is a skill that needs to be learned. Designating two or three key staff to learn these skills increases the likelihood that your clients will receive effective weight-management programming.
Require Your Staff to Be Role Models
This is another simple concept, yet critical to the success of your clients and the program. It is virtually impossible for your staff to coach clients effectively on behaviors that they are not currently engaging in themselves.
Train Your Entire Staff
Everyone — from the front desk staff to the fitness instructors to the personal trainers — in your facility needs to be very familiar with the program. They all need to be informed about what the program is and how it works.
Offer Free Orientations
Your clients need an easy way to find out more about your program. A weekly orientation that is scheduled at a standard time gives members an opportunity to learn more about the program in a non-pressured environment.
Focus on Accountability
Weekly accountability is an absolute must if you want to run an effective behavioral program. Require your members to attend a weekly coaching session or group meeting that emphasizes learning strategies on how to cut food calories while increasing physical activity.
The more structure you can offer your members, the better they will do. Practicing new, unfamiliar behaviors is very difficult to say the least. However, by providing a structured program that emphasizes weekly check-ins, record-keeping, specific food plans, shopping lists and portion-controlled foods, your members will be much more likely to learn and practice those new behaviors.
Richard J. Wolff, RD, LD, is the owner and director of the HMR Program for Weight Management at Wolff Health & Fitness Center. For a free copy of Wolff's latest special report, The New Diet Book Disaster, visit wolfffitness.comand click on “weight loss.” Wolff can be contacted at (847) 931-2434.
Getting Member Involvement
Here are a few steps to encourage people to enroll into your program.