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Entries in communications (8)


How the Fitness Industry Can Thrive in the Digitized Workplace 

When Seth Mattison, founder and chief movement officer of FutureSight Labs, asked the audience at today’s IHRSA 2017 keynote presentation what changes and challenges are making the fitness industry more difficult today than it was 10 years ago, several hands shot up.

“People expect higher levels of service.”

“Members want immediate answers.”

“It’s difficult to keep up with technology.”

And even, “there are too many entitled millennials!”

All of those challenges—and more—are the result of the increasingly digitized workspace, Mattison said in the MYZONE-sponsored keynote. Today’s customer expects speed and efficiency, are more informed than ever before, and come from a number of vastly different generations. 

Continue reading "How the Fitness Industry Can Thrive in the Digitized Workplace."

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5 Reasons Health Club Members Quit (and How to Make Them Stay)

It’s easy to blame member attrition on outside sources—maybe a boutique studio just opened up nearby, or perhaps your most popular group exercise instructor left. But, while those are legitimate obstacles, there are several factors causing members to leave your club that are well within your control.

In this blog post, we dig into five reasons your members are quitting, and offer strategies to make them stay.

Reason 1: You’re Not Offering (or Successfully Marketing) Group Fitness

Health club members who participate in group exercise are more likely to retain their membership than those who only use gym equipment, according to a The Retention People (TRP) study.

For the study, researchers analyzed survey results from 10,000 UK health and fitness members and followed up with them at regular intervals to measure changes to their habits and membership behavior. They found that 48% percent of members reported just one activity as the usual reason for a club visit, 32% reported two and, 20% reported three or more.

As of January 31, 2014, 88% of group exercise members retained their membership compared to 82% of gym-only members. And the risk of cancelling was 56% higher in gym-only members compared to group exercisers (27.6 cancellations per thousand per month versus 17.7). 

Action Point 1: Think about the barriers that stop members attending group exercise and overcome them. Remember—the uninitiated look into a group exercise studio and see a room full of lycra clad people all completing complicated moves in perfect harmony. Also, think about what would make group fitness classes more engaging for young males, who are the most likely to be gym-only members.

Continue reading "5 Reasons Health Club Members Quit (and How to Make Them Stay)."

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5 Exercises to Increase Confidence During High-Stakes Communications

Strong confidence and polished communication skills are common attributes of health club professionals. The traits often come hand-in-hand, but they aren’t inherent in everyone. 

In fact, confidence is 70% volitional and 30% genetic, meaning that we can make a decision to become confident or not, according to Heidi Schultz, Ph.D., clinical professor of management and corporate communication at UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.

In her Thursday, August 5 IHRSA Institute keynote presentation, Schultz shared several exercises that health club professionals can use to communicate with confidence in high-stake situations, such as presentations, meetings, and difficult conversations. 

Here are a few of her confidence-boosting suggestions. 

1. Happy Talk 

“Tell yourself as you’re preparing and getting ready that ‘I’m prepared and I’m poised,’” she said. “It’s simple, but it’s an incredibly powerful concept. You can undercut your confidence by thinking you’ll never be able to do this.” 

2. Visualization 

“Your mind can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is vividly imagined,” she said. “So let’s take that insight and vividly imagine high-stakes communication—a high-stakes meeting or a high-stakes presentation. In your mind, go through the introduction but very specifically—detail matters. Visualize the room, where you are in relation to your audience, visualize various high-stakes components, and if you make it real and do it often, when you get there for real it feels so much better.” 

3. Run and Present 

In this physical exercise, Schultz recommends practicing a presentation while running up and down a flight of stairs to experience what it feels like to present when you’re anxious and nervous.

“This particular practice allows you to feel what it’s like to be nervous when there’s nothing at stake,” she said. 

4. Four Square Breathing 

This controlled breathing exercise helps you to slow down your heart rate when you're nervous and provides a distraction, Schultz said. 

Simply inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, and repeat. 

5. Isometric Exercises 

Schutlz recommends using these exercises to burn up any nervous energy. If your upper leg tends to shake before a presentation, just squeeze your muscles and release. If your hands shake, she suggests making a fist, then squeeze and release, or press your index finger to your thumb to the count of 10 and then release.

“Then you don’t have the energy and you stop shaking,” she said.

The IHRSA Institute, Executive Education for Club Professionals is sponsored by Core Health & Fitness, MINDBODY, NASM, and SPRI.


IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: Cross-Channel Marketing in the Social Age

From emails to text messages to social media, it’s easier than ever for health club operators to reach out to members and potential members. However, the multitude of communications platforms can become overwhelming, and many clubs have difficulty planning a cohesive marketing strategy.

“These days a lot of people are doing [cross-channel communications] but they don’t realize it or they don’t necessarily have a strategy of how they’re going to use those different channels,” says Fred Hoffman, M.Ed., owner of Paris-based Fitness Resources Consulting. “Before marketing was done with print and brochures and cold calling and websites, and now there’s so many other ways that are being used, especially with social media and other technologies, like text messages and push notifications.” 

Hoffman will outline how health club owners can harness the power of today’s communication channels in his IHRSA 2016 session, “Cross-Channel Marketing in the Social Age: Why it is Essential for the Success of Your Business.”

To select the right platforms to communicate with members, club operators must first answer the following questions:  

  • Who is the target demographic? “Are they talking to the existing members? Who are they, what age groups, male or female, what are their interests?” Hoffman says. “If they’re looking for potential members, what is that demographic? They need to know who they’re talking to.”
  • What is the goal of the message? “What are they trying to do? Is it a special promotion to get members or are they launching a new product or program?” Hoffman says. “They really need to look at a strategy—it’s not enough to simply be on Facebook and have a website. You have to think about who you’re talking to and the reasons you want to talk to them.”
  • Is this the correct channel to communicate this message? “With social media, people think they have a Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, but a lot of times they don’t understand the functions and how to use it for whatever their purpose is. They need to understand how each platform works and how they can exploit them.” 

At Hoffman’s Tuesday, March 22 session in Orlando, he’ll present cross-channel marketing and communications best practices, common terminology, and popular platforms used across the health club industry.

Attendees will “learn how to put together a strategy for using the different channels and how they can successfully link the content that they’re communicating through the different channels,” he says. “A good part of the talk will be about personalization and targeting clients through different channels to make it a personal experience.” 

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What They Say and What They Mean

The health and wellness industry is a fascinating and often perplexing one because of the way that people … uhmm, well, communicate. So, in today’s edition of CBI Unbound, guest columnist Hossein Noshirvani, the executive vice president of Motionsoft, Inc., provides a humorous, handy-dandy translation guide to help us all get on the same page. >>>

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Communicate, don't sell, with social media

Christine Thalwitz, Bob Shoulders, Karen Jashinsky and Josh Gerber all weigh in on a timely question in the latest Best Practices: how to best use social media to a club's advantage.

Question: "How can I better use social media to my advantage so that we post better content and initiate good conversations rather than simply re-posting content from our existing website and e-mail marketing? The goal is to use social media as an outlet to communicate better with our members and get members more engaged in our brand."

A: The first thing you should realize when using social media platforms for your club is that you are NOT SELLING. Your goal should be to post content that is relevant to your business and shows that you care about your members and potential member’s health and well-being. 

Here are a few options that you can use to initiate some good conversation.

1. Use Video. Any fit tips from trainers or experts at your clubs, member testimonial, how-to-use equipment, group x classes and personal training classes. All of this can be done with an iPhone.      

2. Take photos of members in your clubs, staff, any new equipment or new renovations, create contests that encourage your members to upload photos of themselves, even better if they are wearing your attire, pretty much anything photo’s always create the most buzz.    

3. Ask questions and poll your members. What is your favorite workout? What are you goals for the next month? How are you enjoying the new group exercise schedules? Etc. 

4. Share relevant topics about the time of year or what is going on in the news. Tomorrow is daylights savings time make sure you turn your clocks ahead an hour, Who was your favorite Oscar winner from last night’s award ceremony, etc.       

5. Post information that is of interest If you eat ¼ pound cheese burger you need to take this class or do these exercise to burn those calories.

6. Post information about where you will be in the community. If you have people off site have them take pictures about where they are and what they are doing and tag your club in their posts. 

7. Put out corny jokes, funny sayings, recipes, motivational sayings/photos. 

When posting any content that I have mentioned above don’t be afraid to link to another website. If you only link to yours they will think you just want to sell them something. Use the 80-20 rule: 80% of what you post should be content that does not initiate the member or potential member to make a purchasing decision, 20% can be sales-based content. When posting photos and videos make sure your members sign release forms. 

Josh Gerber
Marketing Director
Brick Bodies Fitness Services, Inc.


A: High quality content is a form of currency. The more valuable your audience finds your exchange of information, the stronger your relationship becomes. Here are 10 quick tips for maximizing your social media efforts:

1. Begin with the end in mind. What are your company’s social media objectives? Understanding your “big picture” goals will help you determine the types of activities and content that will be most beneficial. Knowing how you can best measure their impact is an important part of your plan.

2. Mix it up. Content comes in many forms: educational articles, how-to videos, contests, fun photos, an opportunity to give feedback, or a friendly chat. It is not necessary (or even desirable) for you to create all your own content. Share items of interest from other credible sources, being sure to give proper credit and link to the original source.

3. Strike an emotional chord. Be a human being, not a faceless corporate entity. Respond to all feedback personally and promptly. Engage your audience with humor, inspirational messages and moving testimonials.

4. Make it short, sweet and easy to find. Catchy headlines, appealing visuals and strong keywords will increase the likelihood that your posts will capture attention. Optimize content for quick consumption and have a call to action that will encourage audience participation.

5. Be in the right place at the right time. Tailor content and delivery to each unique social media platform rather than saturating all your streams at once with a mass “copy and paste”. Think of ways your activities on each site can supplement, rather than simply repeat, the others.

6. Keep tabs on trending topics. Tracking relevant trends in our industry and beyond will help you create buzzworthy content and guide your participation on other channels so that you can amplify your reach.

7. Think “we” not “me”.  In addition to cultivating your own platforms, be active on other networks where members and prospects are likely to be. While you don’t want to dominate the discussion on someone else’s turf, be part of the community and further the conversation by commenting thoughtfully, asking questions and sharing useful information.

8. Capitalize on your current audience. Your existing followers are a great referral source. If you are providing value in your forums, they will share your content with others. Remember to recruit fans and followers offline, too. Place the familiar social media icons at the bottom of your club’s promotional and advertising materials to let people know where they can find you online.

9. One size does not fit all. Develop a strategy that makes sense for your company. While many best practices have emerged in the world of social media, there are few absolutes. Tools and trends continue to evolve, so stay abreast of the ever-changing landscape.

10. Stick with it. In many ways, social media is like exercise. Regular, varied activity over a sustained period of time will yield the best results!

Christine Thalwitz
Director of Communications & Research
ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers

A. Members and potential members are constantly bombarded by information; most of it coming in the form of sales pitches in a very one dimensional platform. With the advent of Social Media, our members now have the opportunity to become part of the conversation. It is our task to create an open, transparent forum through which they can become a part of this collaborative consumerism. Whether it is Facebook posts, tweets or blogs, the content must be engaging enough to garner the attention of a comment, like or share

Tactically, the single best way to get your posts noticed is to upload images as part of your content. Pictures are far more likely to engage your fans than lengthy text, “Ask a Question” polls, news links or videos. Images are also less likely to be filtered by Facebook’s “Edgerank”. The content should ask for comments while being concise enough to retain your audience’s short attention span.

Your goal should be to engage your audience, not sell them something. By engaging them via likes, shares, comments and re-tweets, clubs are able to leverage the multiplier effect of social media. If your fan page has 500 fans and each of these fans has 200 friends, you have the ability to reach 100,000 potential members.

However, success in social media marketing and community creation is not simply a matter of utilizing certain channels, or even maintaining a high level of engagement; but of providing a club and staff that your members deem worthy of talking about.

If you provide world class service, great facilities and phenomenal classes, your customers will talk about it. The Word of Mouth equity you accrue as a result will work in your favor at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising and will carry a great deal more clout. 

Bob Shoulders
Director of Social Media Services
Retention Management


A. Content marketing is all the talk these days. Social media has gone from what many considered to be a distraction to an all-encompassing and unavoidable part of communicating and conducting business. It is vital to learn how to communicate using some of these tools. The key in content marketing is to really understand what consumers truly want and need and to provide it to them in the method, time and place of their choice. To effectively do this it is critical to understand how your customer prefers to communicate. For example, O2 MAX targets teens and college students but we also communicate with parents and adults. We have learned that each demographic has a preferred method of communication and if we really want to ensure a response it is vital to communicate the way they like to communicate.

Social media has become an enabling framework for brands and educators to create an interactive environment filled with expression and sharing capabilities. Mobile devices represent a major impetus behind the social media movement, driving part of the 250% audience increase for the year ending February 2009.

With so many social media platforms to chose from these days it might be daunting to even know where to begin. A great option for clubs might be to conduct an incentivized survey. For example, as summer gets underway clubs might want to consider offering a free perk to customers that take the time to fill out a survey. Send your customers a link to share with their friends via e-mail. Monitor which social networks they chose to share the link with their friends on. This could result in generating new leads while getting the information you need to more effectively communicate with your existing customers. 

Karen Jashinsky
Founder & Chief Fitness Officer
O2 MAX Fitness



This post is a part of our weekly Best Practices 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



CBI magazine EXTRA!

By Patricia Glynn

“To accept good advice is but to increase one’s own ability.”

Those who partook in any of the 140 seminars, panels, workshops, and educational sessions this past March at IHRSA’s 30th Anniversary International Convention and Trade Show in San Francisco can attest to the validity of this statement, attributable to German philosopher and playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

If you weren’t able to attend, you’ll surely want to review the latest issue of CBI magazine, as it contains, in the multi-page recap, “IHRSA30 Celebrates & Demonstrates Industry Excellence,” some of the most valuable lessons from the event.

Of course, due to space limitations, we weren’t able to include everything in the print version. And so here I offer you some more standout suggestions from that educational week:

Ask an Industry Leader: Extending Your Marketing Arm and Engaging Your Membership through Social Media - Moderated by Justin Tamsett, Steve Groves, Karen Jashinsky, and Christine Thalwitz

Use social media to give potential members a comprehensive, interactive look inside your facility. Including a ‘virtual tour’ can make the experience especially vibrant.

Users may post complaints, but don’t let the risk of negative feedback dissuade you from engaging on social media networks. Instead, address negative issues as quickly as they crop up.

If you elect to resolve an issue offline, be sure you still respond to it online, as other followers will note, and appreciate, your proactive management of the situation.

Watch and learn. Be on the lookout for companies who are excelling and innovating with social media platforms. And look beyond fitness-centric businesses—consider all industries.

The Digital Medium - The Technology is Here for Club Communications . . . Where Are You? – Presented by Bryan Andrus

Flat-panel TVs, when used instead of bulletin boards, allow you to “show and tell.” Thus, messages can, and should, include both text and motion.

Members are more media- and tech-savvy than ever, so expectations for digital advancements throughout the club environment are increasing.

Digital messaging can reduce paper costs; allows for an enhanced member experience; and can elevate the public perception of the club—clients will view the facility as more sophisticated.

Keep messages: 

Relevant—they should be useful to the member

Respectful—don’t try to sell something with every post

Rewarding—tell your members something interesting they may not already know

Short—be concise, as members don’t have time to absorb lengthy content; also, too much text can clutter the screen and reduce readability

Varied—update information regularly and include diverse content.


Communication Tools for Fitness Managers

By Shannon Fable

Communicating effectively with a fitness staff is one of the most challenging aspects of our jobs as fitness managers. We’re dealing with remote, mobile staff who may teach anywhere from one to 40 classes a week, train clients on the side, or have another full-time job outside of fitness. They’re often difficult to track down, and it’s uncertain whether the information we need to impart is being heard. That’s why developing a simple communication plan and employing a user-friendly software system can help.

Communicating with your staff in a way that’s familiar and comfortable to them will go a long way. Meet them in their comfort zone. These days, that means more instantaneous and low-touch methods like e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter. Frequency of communication should be predictable and clearly defined and the content relevant. Your communication should be in one centralized location and the method of retrieval should be consistent.

Group fitness managers are the connectors in the facility. We have a responsibility to interact with, organize, and mobilize our staff; schedule substitute instructors; interview potential employees; and communicate with our members, prospective members, supervisors, peers, vendors, and community leaders. With our team of instructors, we’re often expected to operate as the communication hub and “heartbeat” of the fitness center.

In addition, group fitness managers are equal parts leader, instructor, accountant, marketer, negotiator, motivator, salesperson, public speaker, liaison, community spokesperson, scheduler, customer-service representative, and more. This can make the amount of information that we have to deliver overwhelming. Your communication solution should be easy for you to take with you on the go; easily archived to retrieve information and pass along; and contained so it’s easy to digest.

When choosing or developing a communication solution, look for the following components:

  •     A central place to post notices, i.e., short snippets of information that are stored in reverse chronological order, with an easy way for you to track whether the information is received.
  •    A place for instructors to post comments and questions.
  •    A sub swap board that shows available classes, who’s available to sub, and a quick way to approve and spread the news.
  •    A calendar that can serve the needs of the team internally and privately. Specifically, communicating special events and subs to members.
  •   The ability for pictures to be attached to profiles to allow instructors who may never see one another to connect.
  •    A really robust system will have a scheduling feature that links to instructors’ pay rates with class numbers to quickly calculate cost per head and confirm payroll information.
  •    The system should be accessible from anywhere via a handheld device.

Most clubs—though they have software to run their business—don’t invest in software that’s specific to communication and the fitness department, but there’s no question that a system that does all of this will be cost-effective and invaluable for a club to eliminate the headaches that sometimes come with a large part-time staff. At a cost of less than $1 per instructor, per month, it significantly decreases manual communication and tracking costs for your group fitness managers, and provides an opportunity for upper management to track fitness department activity. Look for a system that’s been built by someone in the industry, preferably one who has held the position of group fitness manager. They will understand the intricate needs of the department and the club, which will make the tool an effortless addition to the standard operating procedure of the department. 

Shannon Fable is the President/CEO of Sunshine Fitness Resources and the Group Fitness Manager at Colorado Athletic Club in Boulder.