Jayson Hunter RD, CSCS, is a registered dietitian who has counseled hundreds of successful clients to achieving weight loss. To download your free copy of his special report, “33 Tips You Must Know To Create a Profitable Weight Management Program,” visit www.weightmanagementexperts.com.

With the obesity rate increasing rapidly in the United States, it’s become more important for health clubs to start weight-management programs. Fitness professionals are needed more than ever to step up and help make a difference.

Some of you may already teach your clients about weight loss, but you also need to reach out to the untapped market. The nice thing about a weight-management program is that you maximize your time, maximize your revenue per hour, and help many individuals achieve their goals at the same time.

1. The first step in starting a weight-management program is deciding who will teach the classes. Try to find a teacher with extensive nutritional knowledge and experience (such as a registered dietitian or other nutrition expert). If you don’t have access to such an expert, start networking so that you have someone you can use as a referral source. Hire or promote a fitness professional who has a good understanding and knowledge of nutrition to teach the weight-management program, and then network with a nutrition professional as your referral source for individuals who need more personalized attention.

2. The second step is to decide on a learning plan. Outline what you want to teach your participants. Consider breaking the learning curriculum into 8-10 one-hour sessions. This allows you to spend a considerable amount of time on your objectives, and it gives the participants time to learn and form new behaviors.

3. Teach the lessons in a group setting to maximize your time and revenue. It is also a great way to have a support system amongst the participants. Why do you think there are so many support groups instead of one-on-one sessions? The reason is they are able to reach a much larger audience at once, and participants can feed off each other’s successes as well as help other participants succeed.

4. The classes should be designed to connect with all four types of learning styles using various combinations of experience, reflection, conceptualization and experimentation. Not all of your participants will remember every word you say, so for those participants, you may need to give out handouts, provide food models so they can visually see portion sizes or cut out labels from packages so they can physically read a label. Even grocery store tours are very successful. Provide many different sources of learning for your participants, and encourage discussion to engrain the objectives you are trying to teach.

5. Now that you have your weight-management program in place, you need to market the program to the public. Contact your local newspapers, magazines or local television stations to let them know you have a brand new program to change the health status of your city or town. Media outlets are always looking for new and different topics that will engage and help their viewers or subscribers. If your area is on that list of fattest cities, you could bring that to light and describe how your program plans on lowering that number by next year. You could also send letters to local corporations and describe how obesity is affecting health insurance premiums and how your program can help them lower premiums.

Use these five tips to start your own successful weight-management program and start making a difference in your community.