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Entries in Christine Thalwitz (21)

Wednesday
May172017

Hone Your Organizational Skills to Create Successful Marketing Campaigns

This post is an IHRSA Institute preview.

A strong, integrated marketing strategy is key to the success of any business. Unfortunately, creating and implementing that strategy can be a challenge for smaller health club businesses, which often don’t have the resources to employ full-time marketers. 

Continue reading "Hone Your Organizational Skills to Create Successful Marketing Campaigns."

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov012016

Best Practices: 4 Ways to Solicit Health Club Member Feedback

The following post was written by Christine Thalwitz for our Best Practices series.

Question: Knowing the importance of listening to members, how should I solicit feedback to improve customer service?

To have a complete picture of your members’ expectations and perceptions, it’s important to make use of feedback.

1. Customer-initiated Communication

Open-ended, customer-driven systems, such as suggestion boxes, Q&A boards, and “open-door” policies are valuable because they allow members to share their thoughts spontaneously, especially when there’s an acute need to respond to them. Of course, it’s also important to make sure that your team members “own” any complaint they hear.

2. Company-prompted Contact 

Focus groups, surveys, and member advisory committees can yield highly focused information that can help you make better strategic decisions. And you can time these interactions to measure particular aspects of various products or services.

3. Unarticulated Feedback 

Also pay attention to your members’ body language, which can express volumes. Sometimes, a warm greeting or a simple apology for an inconvenience may be all that’s needed to smooth things over. It’s also valuable to track other ways that members “vote with their feet,” such as program participation and club attendance.

4. Conversations Outside the Club 

Of course, social media has made it easier than ever for customers to share their opinions. In addition to creating your own presence online, monitor other channels that your customers frequent. Whenever you encounter complaints, consider it an opportunity to respond positively and publicly.

Christine Thalwitz
Vice President of Marketing
ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers
Charlottesville, VA

Thursday
Sep082016

Best Practices: How to Retain Health Club Members When a Popular Instructor Leaves

The following post was written by Christine Thalwitz for our Best Practices series.

Question: How can I retain health club members when a popular exercise instructor leaves?

Christine Thalwitz: First, take steps to ensure a smooth transition. Inform members about pending changes clearly and well in advance. If you plan to retain the class, find a strong replacement, and, if possible, have the new and departing instructors teach together a few times prior to the transition.

Focus members on other exciting club offerings.

Overall, be sure to reward staff teamwork more than personal popularity. Team goals and incentives help instructors understand the big picture. Consider pairing your newer teachers with veterans for mentoring to improve the quality of instruction. Avoid filling your schedule with specialty classes that rely on the expertise of particular leaders.

Encourage members to participate in a wide variety of club activities to help them develop stronger feelings for your brand, and to develop relationships with staff and other members. Special workshops, member socials, and class-launch parties foster camaraderie.

Finally, if instructor turnover is a recurring problem, then organizational issues may be sabotaging staff satisfaction. If you don’t already do so, you should administer employee surveys and conduct exit interviews to gather valuable feedback.

Christine Thalwitz
Vice President of Marketing
ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers
Charlottesville, VA

Monday
Apr042016

Social Advantage: Businesses with Active Blogs Are More Successful

In this age of technology, establishing an active presence on social media sites and online forums is one of the most effective ways to communicate with your audience. And being well-versed in how to build and implement a successful blog strategy has its added advantages, as businesses that post regularly on their blogs are 55% more likely to be found by customers looking to invest in a product or service. 

At IHRSA 2016 , Christine Thalwitz, vice president of marketing for acac Fitness and Wellness centers in Charlottesville, VA, offered her best practices for creating an engaging blog during the session “Social Advantage: Tips, Tricks, and Tactics to Build a Better Blog.” 

Thalwitz encouraged attendees to consider the following tips to increase blog readership: 

1. Decide what your story is and how it should be told. Identifying your target markets is a crucial part of tailoring content to fit the interests and needs of your readers. This includes showing how your story will unfold as well as telling your readers exactly what they want to know.    

2. Create a unique and captivating website design that is easy to navigate. Ensuring that your website has a welcoming design is almost as important as the content that will be housed on your blog. Readers want to have easy access to information through simple navigational tools that lead them directly to the content they are searching for. Mobile capability is also an essential component to consider when thinking about potential design options.   

3. Use a defined blog process to create content. Generally, this process involves:    

  • Planning and researching – A large part of being successful is about staying up-to-date on trends and current events. Therefore, it is important to do research on what others are blogging about. 
  • Creating – Creating a post requires a certain level of mastery that involves crafting the perfect headline, incorporating key words and phrases that illustrate a clear point, making sure that your content is rich without being “stuffed,” and including bullet points, links, and video elements for easier “readability.” 
  • Publishing and distributing – When considering how much regular material to publish, it is important to think about how many posts you can publish consistently while still maintaining the high quality and integrity associated with your company’s brand and message.  

4. Focus on analytics to measure success. Programs such as Google Analytics, Social Analytics, CoSchedule, and Mail Chimp all have applications that can provide accurate information on the views that your posts are receiving. Studying and reviewing these numbers can provide useful feedback on where to focus efforts for future improvement.  

Thursday
Jan212016

IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: Tips, Tricks & Tactics to Build a Better Blog

Blogs have become a mainstay of content marketing, and many successful health clubs are using the platform to engage members and promote their business.

“There is a lot more to blog writing than meets the eye,” says Christine Thalwitz, vice president of marketing for acac Fitness & Wellness Centers. “If you understand post architecture and optimization, your life will be a lot easier and your posts more powerful.”

Thalwitz will share tips and tools to help health club operators demystify the blogging process in her IHRSA 2016 session, “Social Advantage: Tips, Tricks & Tactics to Build a Better Blog.”

Her Tuesday, March 22 session in Orlando will help operators:

  • Learn how to rethink and relaunch your blog for a unique competitive advantage.
  • Discover how to update your blogging strategy to attract more quality prospects, enhance your company’s reputation and improve sales.
  • Learn how to craft compelling content that matches today’s buyer behavior.
  • Gain insight on how to measure the impact of your content strategy and tweak what isn’t working.
  • Explore how to leverage social media and email marketing to maximize your blog’s reach and influence.

“We’re going to talk about blogging strategy in more than just an abstract, theoretical way,” she says. “I am going to share best practices from my company, as well as others inside and outside our industry. Participants will go home with practical tools and techniques they can use immediately to improve their blog performance and save time and money.”

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Monday
Dec212015

‘Build a Better Blog’ with IHRSA’s January 7 Webinar

Health club blogs often fall to the wayside due to time constraints and low member engagement. But, if done correctly, blogs can be a major attribute to your business and its reputation.

Christine Thalwitz, vice president of marketing for acac Fitness & Wellness Centers, will outline exactly how health club operators can do just that in her Thursday, January 7 webinar, “Build a Better Blog: Tips, Tricks & Tactics.”

“There is a lot more to blog writing than meets the eye,” she says. “If you understand post architecture and optimization, your life will be a lot easier and your posts more powerful. I’ll be sharing tips and tools to demystify that process.”

Thalwitz’s 60-minute webinar will cover the following learning objectives: 

  • Learn how to rethink and relaunch your blog for a unique competitive advantage.
  • Discover how to update your blogging strategy to attract more quality prospects, enhance your company’s reputation and improve sales.
  • Learn how to craft compelling content that matches today’s buyer behavior.
  • Gain insight on how to measure the impact of your content strategy and tweak what isn’t working.
  • Explore how to leverage social media and email marketing to maximize your blog’s reach and influence. 

“Done well, a blog will improve your SEO, increase discoverability and website ranking, and ultimately drive traffic. It is a platform for you to share timely information and position your business as the market leader,” she says. “Use it to feed your content marketing efforts in social media, email, and publications. Analyze your traffic and engagement to see where you are gaining traction and where you might need to sharpen your messaging.”

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Monday
Feb022015

What Are the Best Ways to Maximize IHRSA 2015?

Attending keynote speaker, like Gary Vaynerchuk in 2014, can result in numerous take-aways.Ask an Industry Leader, IHRSA’s very popular feature found both in the online blog and in CBI magazine, has rebranded as Best Practices. The questions will be along the same lines and those answering will still be health and fitness industry leaders.

For the inaugural Best Practices a timely subject is discussed: IHRSA 2015, 34th Annual International Convention & Trade. Brent Darden and Christine Thalwitz answer the question, how to maximize the the four-day event.

Q: I’m attending IHRSA’s Annual International Convention & Trade Show for the very first time. Any tips on how to maximize the experience?


A:
Plan ahead! Review the entire convention brochure in advance to decide how best to use your time each day. Check the free IHRSA mobile app for up-to-the minute additions, for changes to the agenda, and to plan your schedule. Choose the educational sessions, tutorials, and roundtable discussions you believe will be most beneficial, and be sure to attend all four of the general sessions.

Start early and stay late each day. Participate in the early-morning workout sessions—especially those held on the trade show floor—and go to all of the networking events/receptions/parties in the evenings.

Listen to learn. That is, be prepared to take notes and gather as much information and as many ideas and insights as possible, including at the two-day trade show. At the show, walk the entire floor on the first day to see everything, and then go back on the second day to visit and do business with the vendors whose products interest you the most.

Don’t forget to enjoy yourself! Relish the opportunity to spend a few days in Los Angeles with like-minded people who are as passionate as you are about health, fitness, and changing people’s lives for the better.
Prioritize and execute. On the flight home, or immediately thereafter, review your notes and create a list of the best ideas you’ve gleaned from your experience. Then, prioritize that list and put plans in place to implement the top 10.

BRENT DARDEN
PRESIDENT
BRENT DARDEN CONSULTING
DALLAS, TEXAS

 


A:
The annual IHRSA International Convention and Trade Show offers a great opportunity to learn about new products, best practices, and future trends! To get the most from your 2015 convention experience, think well ahead of time about what your goals are for attending the event, and plan your daily itinerary accordingly.

If you’re attending with a group of people, strategize by planning your session selections with them. You want to avoid overlapping whenever you can, so you can bring as much information as possible back to the club.

Keep in mind that you can also order audio or video educational session recordings onsite from the IHRSA Store, or from ihrsastore.com, to hear any talks that you may miss. You can also share them with other staff members at your company.

Also, save plenty of time for the two-day trade show! If you’re responsible for making large purchases for your club, you may want to touch base with some vendor representatives ahead of time to schedule a meeting.

In my personal experience, one of the best things about attending the IHRSA convention is meeting other health club industry professionals from around the world, so bring lots of business cards to exchange with them during the week. Once you’ve returned home, quickly schedule a “download day” to share what you’ve learned, and to brainstorm with your colleagues about how to implement the best ideas from IHRSA 2015.

CHRISTINE THALWITZ
VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING
ACAC FITNESS & WELLNESS CENTER
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA

 

 

For more information on IHRSA 2015, visit ihrsa.org/convention.

Monday
Jun242013

Is there too much offered in terms of recovery services?

Image courtesy of Praisaeng at FreeDigitalPhotos.netMore is always better. So when it comes to offerings at a club, oftentimes what are available a few years ago might pale in comparison to what is offered now.

This week's Best Practices question looks into the issue of what is acceptable when it comes to recovery services. What used to be extras, or unheard of at a fitness club - live aromatherapy, massage, acupuncture and more - is not not a novel idea.

Q: "What is your perception of the industry standard when it comes to 'recovery services for members' and how a newer concept, like a compression boot, might be accepted as a member service within fitness centers across the US?  To your knowledge, is the industry offering much more than massage to their clientele at this point?"

A: Many clubs offer in-house massage and physical therapy services. Though not as common, others offer acupuncture, aromatherapy, or chiropractic services, usually through partnerships with local practitioners. The types of amenities and services clubs adopt should be consistent with their mission, audience demographics and service model. Any products or therapies prescribed to or otherwise utilized by members should be under the direction of a qualified professional. At a minimum, they should be FDA approved and meet additional safety standards as appropriate. If there is to be no direct oversight, consider the safety and efficacy of making the product available in a self-service format. While offering new and interesting products and services will capture the attention of your members and prospects, it is the ongoing satisfaction and positive outcomes that will determine the long-term success of the offering.

Christine Thalwitz
Director of Communications & Research
ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers
christineot@acac.com

 

 

This post is a part of our weekly Best Practice series. We post a new question and answer every Monday. If you have a question you'd like our Industry Leaders to answer, submit your question today.

For past Best Practices questions, go to www.ihrsa.org/home/category/best-practices.

Monday
Apr292013

How do corporate clients track their employee participation at fitness centers?

Mike James, Brian Sekula, Vaughn Marxhausen and Christine Thalwitz discuss the tracking of employee participation with corporate memberships in this week's Best Practices

Q: "Is there a standard or best practice on how corporate clients track their employee participation at the fitness center?  Our hospital reimburses employees 50% of their membership dues and wants to implement a usage report policy.  Any recommendations on what works best?"


Mike James
General Manger
World Bank Fitness Centers
mjames1@worldbank.org

 

A: The simplest way is to track visits, which can be done by all membership software programs. That won’t tell you too much. Another alternative, depending on the type of fitness equipment, is to track usage by the members. Some equipment manufacturers have incorporated the ability to evaluate effort, track intensity or measure caloric expenditure using a membership card. A less hi-tech but effective way is to require regular attendance in a fitness class or with a personal trainer. Have someone on staff in the fitness center take attendance and submit a monthly report.

Between these three options, you should be able to put your thinking cap on and come up with a creative way to track attendance.

Brian Sekula, PhD
President-CEO
The Health Performance Institute
bsekula@briansekula.com

 

A: There really isn’t a “standard” on how corporate clients track their employees’ participation at a fitness facility.  Each corporation will set up their own standard which will have to be met by the employee in order to receive reimbursement.    

The top two “standards” or common requests from a company are: 1) Employee must be a current member of a health club. 2) Employee must utilize the club “x” amount of times per month or quarter. 

When setting up “standards”, the company must first decide the given outcomes they are looking for.  Once these outcomes are defined, then the actual standards can be created and implemented in order for employees to receive their reimbursement.   The standards should be obtainable by the employee but at the same time should not be too easy.  If a company sets a standard only of employees being a member of a health club, that makes it too easy for the employee to receive their reimbursement and may not be in line with the desired outcomes for the employees. 

When setting up the standards, or what will be tracked, it is important to have open communication between the club and the company to make sure the requested metrics can be computed.  A few examples may be: ability to track participation in a given activity within the club or track participant’s health / fitness improvements. 

When setting up the standards, it is always important to keep in mind the desired outcomes of the employees.  These outcomes and standards must be attainable and fair for all employees in order to receive reimbursement. 

Vaughn Marxhausen
Area Director
Houstonian Lite Health Club & Health Club at Travis Place
vmarxhausen@houstonianlite.com

 

 

A: It has always been fairly straightforward to create attendance reports from club management software systems. However, as clubs that manage multiple corporate accounts know, each company’s reporting needs and wants are different. Some companies like to review monthly attendance benchmarks. Others want to examine records quarterly. Some may require two visits per week while others require two visits bi-weekly. Human manipulation of all this data to each company’s specifications would be extremely tedious and time-consuming. Our solution was to create a computer program that gathers attendance data in a searchable format, which we make accessible through a secure online portal. Authorized human resource officers can access cumulative attendance data by date range for all their employees with subsidized memberships. Individual corporate members may also access their own data to monitor personal attendance. The ability to input unique start and end dates ensures that the usage reports generated are according to the querying individual’s or organization’s parameters. We find that our corporate clients appreciate the efficiency of this self-service reporting system. They know we are always happy to help should they need assistance, but they like having the data at their fingertips!

Christine Thalwitz
Director of Communications & Research
ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers
christineth@acac.com

 

 

One of the most frequently consulted sections of IHRSA’s Website, ihrsa.org, is “Best Practices,” which features answers from industry experts to a wide range of thought-provoking questions. Beginning this month, we’ll highlight some of them in this new CBI column.

Visit ihrsa.org/bestpractices to read responses to more than 100 questions such as these or to submit a question of your own to be answered

Monday
Mar182013

Veterans of IHRSA convention explain how to make the most of experience

Not surprising, we have plenty veteran experts who can answer this very timely question: how does a first-time IHRSA convention attendee not get overwhelmed and make the most of their experience.

With the event beginning tomorrow, March 19, and running through March 22, this is a good read.

Q: "I am attending the IHRSA 2013 Convention & Trade Show for the first time this year.  I have never attended an industry event of this size before.  I do not want to miss anything or risk being overwhelmed. Do you have any suggestions of how to maximize my experience in Las Vegas?"

A: Plan Ahead – review the entire convention brochure and decide in advance how to best use your time. Pick the educational sessions, tutorials, and roundtable discussions you believe will be most beneficial and attend all of the general sessions. Start Early & Stay Late – participate in the early morning workout sessions (especially on the trade show floor) and go to the networking events / receptions/ parties in the evening. Listen To Learn – be prepared to take notes and gather as much information, ideas, and insights as possible.  Tour The Trade Show – walk the entire trade show floor on the first day to see everything, and then go back on the second day to the vendors you have the most interest in.Prioritize & Execute – on the flight home, or immediately thereafter, review all your notes and create a list of the best ideas you gleaned from the convention. Then, prioritize the list and put plans in place to implement the top ten ideas. Enjoy The Experience -  relish the opportunity to spend a few days with “like minded” individuals who are passionate about health and fitness and changing people’s lives.  

Brent Darden
Owner & General Manager
TELOS Fitness Center
bdarden@telosfitnesscenter.com 

* Darden is speaking on Thursday, March 21 at 1:30 p.m., "Membership Sales & Service - Two Sides of the Same Coin"

  

A: The annual IHRSA convention and trade show is a great opportunity to learn about new products, best practices, and future trends. To get the most out of your experience, think about what your goals are for attending the conference. Plan your itinerary accordingly. If you are going with a group, strategize your session selections so that you can bring back as much information as possible. Save plenty of time for the trade show! If you will be responsible for making large purchases for your club, you may want to touch base with some vendor reps ahead of time. One of the best things is meeting other industry professionals, so bring lots of business cards to exchange. Once you have returned home, have a "download day" to share what you have learned and to brainstorm with your colleagues.

Christine Thalwitz
Director of Communications & Research
ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers
christineth@acac.com 

* Thalwitz is speaking on Wednesday, March 20 at 1:30 p.m., "Become a Leader in Your Community with Successful Medical and Corporate Wellness Programs"

 

A: Start broad and then zone in to your areas of growth. 

There are several key aspects:

1. Keynotes (Global Thought Learning as well as inspiration)

2. Sessions (Pick those that will benefit you with growth – don’t just do your typical area of focus / expand yourself

3. Schedule Trade Show time – the next technologies, trends, class formats, equipment, functional training concepts – it’s all there / even if you aren’t in the market for new equipment right now – the trade show is one of the most valuable aspects of the convention – give yourself adequate time (at least 2 visits) and work the floor in a systematic way covering it all

4. Get organized – Put everything you want to see / do in your schedule (download the app as well) – bring a file of people you want to meet, etc.  Organizing your trip beforehand will pay off in a big way

5. Have fun and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to others!

Bill McBride
President & COO
Club One, Inc.
bill.mcbride@clubone.com 

* McBride is speaking on Wednesday, March 20 at 1:30 p.m., "Megatrends in Management, Leadership & Navigating Change";  Thursday, March 21 at 8:00 a.m., "IHRSA's Annual Meeting"; Thursday, March 21 at 1:30 p.m., "Membership Sales & Service - Two Sides of the Same Coin"

 

A:

 

Fred Hoffman, M.Ed.
Speaker and International Fitness and Spa Consultant
fred@fredhoffman.com

* Hoffman is speaking on Thursday, March 21 at 1:30 p.m., "One Size Doesn't Fit All: Which Social Media Platforms are Best?"

 

 

A:

 

Bryan O'Rourke
CEO
Integerus LLC & Fitmarc
bryan@fitmarc.com

* O'Rourke is speaking on Thursday, March 21 at 1:30 p.m., "Key Industry Trends Transforming Health Clubs"

 

 

A:

 

Justin Tamsett
Managing Director
Active Management
jt@activemgmt.com.au

 

*speaking on Tuesday, March 19 at 9:45am "It's a Mystery: Insights into What Your Members & Prospects are Truly Encountering" and Tuesday, March 19 at 3:45pm "Create Buzz with Inexpensive Marketing Initiatives"

One of the most frequently consulted sections of IHRSA’s Website, ihrsa.org, is “Best Practices,” which features answers from industry experts to a wide range of thought-provoking questions. Beginning this month, we’ll highlight some of them in this new CBI column.

Visit ihrsa.org/bestpractices to read responses to more than 100 questions such as these or to submit a question of your own to be answered.