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Entries in community programs (8)


Increase Health Club Member Engagement Through Community Service (and Our New E-book)

Health clubs and health club operators have always been in the business of giving—by providing practical guidance, a safe environment, and inclusive programming options for people of all ages and abilities to be regularly active.   

And now more than ever, clubs are extending their generosity beyond their four walls by focusing on identifying the needs of the larger community and then creating programs to address these needs.  

Responses to these targeted program offerings have been tremendous. Community members that take part in club outreach initiatives see results ranging from a renewed motivation to be physically active to a significant increase in quality of life. Most importantly, any and all of these outcomes have left participants feeling happier, healthier, and better prepared to take on any new challenges that lie ahead. 

That’s why we’ve compiled a new e-book, “Increasing Engagement Through Community Service: Examples from IHRSA Clubs.” 

This member-only publication highlights case studies from five IHRSA members with impactful community service programs: 

  • Gainesville Health & Fitness
  • GIVE Fitness
  • Franco's Athletic Club
  • Gold's Gym Dutchess County
  • Club Fit 

The e-book’s community outreach case studies are meant to inspire you to offer a community service program of your own, provide ideas on new outreach programs, and encourage you to share this information with others who are interested in expanding the health and fitness industry’s reach beyond health club walls. 

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Club Fit Uses Storytelling to Engage Cancer Survivors and First Responders

Storytelling has always had the power to personally connect people through shared experiences. 

And, fortuitously, clubs provide the perfect place for people to gather and share their stories—about where they are in their fitness journey and where they hope this journey will lead them. 

Club Fit, with two locations in Briarcliff and Jefferson Valley, NY, harnessed the power of storytelling to encourage community members to acknowledge why it is important to keep active and how they can use this positive mentality to achieve their fitness goals.         

“We’re here and have a presence in the community and so people want to bring us their stories,” says Ellen Koelsch, vice president of Club Fit. “When people tell us their stories and offer unique programming ideas, we respond by saying ‘That would be great. Would you like to do this with us?’” 

Fighting Cancer with Fitness 

Cancer is a disease that directly or indirectly impacts all of us. 

The National Cancer Institute estimates that by the end of 2016, cancer will have taken the lives of 595,690 U.S. citizens. And, over the course of the next two decades, the number of new cancer cases worldwide is expected to hit a staggering 22 million. 

Taking note of the need to address rising cancer incidence and mortality rates, Club Fit decided to start a program that would help cancer patients regain their strength and conviction. And, the decision to start this program was officially solidified after attending the IHRSA International Convention & Trade Show and hearing Julie Main speak about her personal battle with cancer and the importance of overcoming the disease’s limitations with physical activity.   

A “Think Fit for Kids” fundraising event to raise money for brain tumor resarch.

Since that time, Club Fit’s cancer wellness program has employed strength training, cardio, and yoga techniques to help participants feel healthier and more confident. The program is conducted by certified instructors who create personalized fitness routines for participants of all ages and abilities. The program is free for all members and non-members are invited to participate in a 90-day free trial. 

Over the years, the program has seen continued success thanks to its strong partnerships with local doctors and hospitals who refer patients to the club.   

“Participants must have medical clearances from their doctors to be involved,” says Koelsch, “and they are required to meet with trainers ahead of time so that they know exactly what to expect at the start of the program.” 

Continue reading "Club Fit Uses Storytelling to Engage Cancer Survivors and First Responders."

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4 Ways Health Clubs Benefit from Offering Community Programs

Health clubs are in the business of serving people. And what better way is there to serve people than to get involved in opportunities that will make a lasting impact outside the four walls of your health club? 

Community programs act as a way to engage all people to participate in physical activity, regardless of factors such as age or ability. With the right resources, staff members, and organizational support it is possible for clubs to play a larger role in helping local residents be more active. 

In fact, what clubs are willing to actively give to the local community is often returned in the form of business prosperity. 

Here are four reasons health clubs could benefit from offering community programming: 

1. Shows that Your Club is Involved in the Community 

“Our ideas for programming come from simply answering a need,” says Noah Hastay, operations manager at Gainesville Health & Fitness, “with our vision of becoming one of the best companies for the world, we are striving to help those inside and outside of our four walls.” 

Asking local community members what they want out of a health club’s program offerings is a proven way to demonstrate a club’s ability to listen to member suggestions and personally address them as best as possible. 

 2. Differentiates Health Club from Competitors 

 “The initial decision to offer these programs was easy because our clubs have always supported this idea,” says Kim Kenyon, managing partner at Gold’s Gym Dutchess County, “and we wanted to create a way to differentiate ourselves from our competitors—providing these services gave us opportunities to do both.” 

In today’s ever-expanding market, most clubs offer some variation of yoga classes, personal training sessions, and group-X programs. However, programming specifically tailored to address a certain need—whether it is helping cancer patients regain their strength or sponsoring a road race to raise charitable funds for ALS—generates unique interest and makes any facility stand out in a sea of similarity.   

Continue reading "4 Reasons Health Clubs Should Consider Offering Community Programming."

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Corporate Fitness Works ‘Pays the Fun Forward’ in Memory of Beloved Team Member 

All this week, Corporate Fitness Works (CFW) employees have been carrying out “random acts of fun,” inviting members to choose from a jar filled with inspirational quotes and partake in a “sweet mini-break” with a friend.   

The CFW team members’ actions have already put many smiles on members’ faces, but the Pay-the-Fun-Forward Campaign (PTFFC) has a deeper meaning—celebrating the life of Amanda DiGirolomo, a Pennsylvania-based team leader who lost her life in a car accident last year. 

“Our Pay-the-Fun-Forward Campaign has allowed us to honor the memory of a very special Team Leader and to help heal our broken hearts," says Allison Flatley, chief strategy officer for CFW and IHRSA board member. "Amanda DiGirolomo was filled with sunshine and could make anyone smile. Now we have the honor of paying her love of fun forward to the special people we interact with everyday.”

Paying the Fun Forward 

PTFFC will take place annually in conjunction with Amanda’s birthday, September 18. In 2016, September 18 falls on a Sunday, therefore, the first annual PTFFC is taking place Monday, September 19, through Friday, September, 23. 

Throughout the week, CFW employees are encouraging, inspiring, and implementing “random acts of fun” at their site, at home, and/or in their communities. 

“Creativity is the limit for how Team Leaders ‘pay the fun forward,’” says Elaine Bispo Smalling, director of marketing and PR for CFW. “Team Leaders are encouraged to capture moments of fun and share them on our internal communication feed, Yammer, using the hashtag #PayTheFunForward.” 

Remembering a Beloved Team Member 

As a tribute to Amanda’s memory, CFW team members company-wide are wearing yellow shoelaces with her initials throughout the month. 

“The color yellow was selected because it was one of Amanda’s favorite colors, and also the perfect color to reflect her fun, happy, positive personality,” Smalling says. “When Team Leaders receive inquiries about their yellow shoelaces, they are encouraged to freely share the meaning behind them and ask those inquiring to join the Pay-The-Fun-Forward Campaign!”

At CFW's Florida headquarters, team members will be going to a local paint-your-own pottery studio, where they will paint sunflowers on tiles that will be incorporated into corporate headquarters. That way, Amanda's spirit will greet everyone who visits.


GIVE Fitness Stresses Purpose Over Profit

Purpose fuels profit. By definition, the two work together to achieve remarkable results. 

From its inception, this is something that GIVE Fitness realized and incorporated into its business model to better serve its members and be more accessible to residents in the local community. By promoting best practices for individual health and wellness and finding the value in reaching out to and assisting a larger network of people, GIVE has used its passion to solidify its brand as one that is both generous and prosperous. 

GIVE Fitness was started as part of Working to Give, LLC (WTG), a for-profit corporation launched in 2005 as the result of a college MBA project conducted by Matt Holguin and two of his MBA colleagues at Azusa Pacific University. WTG is the parent company that oversees a number of smaller business operations in food, retail, and fitness, and what makes WTG so compelling is the requirement that all smaller business operations under WTG ownership must be willing to use 50% of their profits to give back to the community.  

A Business Model Unlike Most 

In the business world where profit often trumps purpose, GIVE does the opposite and encourages other businesses to follow its lead by prioritizing the needs of the people they service over the financial gains they attain. However, even as GIVE’s business model proves to be both effective and powerful, there are many that continue to question whether this strategy is too good to be true. 

“Our biggest challenge has been maintaining transparency. Many people think this is a marketing ploy, so battling the skepticism and being consistent in our messaging has been extremely important. This is not just a monetary thing. It is a daily practice for us to be part of our community,” says Josh Donovan, president and co-founder of GIVE Fitness and COO of the fitness division for Working to Give. 

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How Franco’s Athletic Club Became Mandeville’s ‘Community Place’

Picture the year 1986. Jane Fonda was on the move. Jazzercise classes were in-style. And, who could forget the tight, shiny, neon workout clothing—the ultimate indicator of a person’s fitness fashion expertise. 

But, even with all of the glitz and glamour of ‘80s fitness trends, there were still many health club programming opportunities that had not been identified yet. 

In particular, Ron and Sandy Franco, co-owners of Franco’s Athletic Club in Mandeville, LA, noticed that health clubs in this decade were primarily interested in attracting more adult members by offering unique programming to meet the needs of this target market. Structured programming options—especially those offered within a health club setting—were seldom used as a way to engage the whole family in regular physical activity. Taking note of this gap in coverage, Sandy and Ron decided that they would make it their mission to create a culture of physical activity for all generations.

“Kids were rarely part of clubs in the 80s,” says Sandy Franco, “so we wanted to build a club centered around families and the community that could offer something for everyone.” 

Franco’s; the Place Where Community Members Come and Gather 

With this new goal in mind, the Francos started by getting involved with children to show them the importance of being physically active from a young age. Sandy and her husband began by targeting both kids and parents by being involved with local school systems. 

The Francos contacted a number of schools, offering to support physical education programs by offering fun fitness rallies for kids. The club hosted a fun run that challenged all local schools to participate, where the school with the largest attendance would be given a trophy, a monetary reward to be used for purchasing new PE equipment, and the opportunity to host a fitness rally with Franco's and Mountain Dew. 

Over 2,000 kids and parents showed up for the program’s debut, confirming its success. 

“We thought we could be the community place; a place where community members could gather and come together. Health clubs are positioned to help, so we knew that there had to be a way we could be involved,” says Franco. 

Continue reading "How Franco's Athletic Club Became Mandeville's 'Community Place.'

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At Gold’s Gym Dutchess County, Member Results and Community Giving Go Hand-in-Hand

Kim Austin Kenyon found her inspiration to help others from a young age. As a kid, she watched her father, Bill Austin, strive to better the lives of others through physical fitness and daily exercise in his role as the owner of two Gold’s Gym facilities in New York. And in these moments, Kenyon realized she wanted to pursue the same calling and she became drawn to the philanthropic nature of the industry.

Today, Kenyon follows in her father’s footsteps as the managing partner of Gold’s Gym Dutchess County, where she and her colleagues currently serve over 11,000 members in Fishkill and Poughkeepsie, NY. In her daily work, she seizes similar opportunities to offer meaningful programs that help local community members lead healthier lifestyles.

“These program offerings make us who we are,” says Kenyon. “We want to give our members the results they are looking for while also giving back to the community. The initial decision to offer these programs was easy because our clubs have always supported this idea and we wanted to create a way to differentiate ourselves from our competitors—providing these services gave us opportunities to do both.”                         

Gold’s Gym and ‘BetterU’ Work to Prevent Heart Disease

The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that 370,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year. And, the AHA also attributes heart disease as the number one killer of women, in particular—taking more lives than every type of cancer combined.

Almost six years ago, Gold’s Gym Dutchess County was approached by the American Heart Association about an opportunity to sponsor a program that would address rising rates of heart disease by countering them with healthy behaviors, like regular physical activity and wholesome dietary choices. Gold’s Gym gladly accepted this offer and joined forces with the AHA to sponsor the BetterU program—a free AHA program that encourages 12 women to make small changes to individual fitness and nutrition habits to improve cardiovascular health.

Continue reading about Gold's Gym Dutchess County's community programs.

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Create Successful Community Programming by Answering 3 Simple Questions

Connecting with your community to offer programs that interest them is a great way to demonstrate that your club genuinely cares about fulfilling the fitness aspirations of community members, but it is often challenging to determine what type of program is best suited to your club and your members. 

To help club owners and staff overcome this obstacle, Cathleen Garner, childcare and camp director at The Claremont Club, led a discussion at IHRSA 2016 on building “Programs with a Purpose: Implementing Successful Programs for Your Club & Community.” Throughout the presentation, attendees were able to share their innovative ideas on community outreach programs, learn from suggestions made by their peers, and gain insight on how to successfully implement these types of programs. 

During the session, attendees were tasked with answering three questions to help them determine the best community program offerings for their individual clubs: 

1. What is the best class offering for my community and my club? 

Consider your community. What are their needs? Would they rather work out in a group setting or participate in a more intimate personal training session? How many times a week or month would be best for them? 

Now consider your club. What are you hoping to accomplish by creating a new program? Are you looking to increase revenue, retention, or member satisfaction? Does your club have the necessary amenities to implement the program that you are considering? These are all questions that should be answered before you commit to a program.  

2. What is the purpose of the program I want to create? What do I want the end results to be? 

The purpose of your program defines the components of your program and informs who your participants will be. That being said, all programs have varying goals that appeal to different members, so there are many options to consider. 

For example, are you looking to help participants lose weight? Increase quality of life? Be less sedentary? Feel less stressed? Overcome chronic disease?  Try something outside of their comfort zone? All of the above? The possibilities are endless. 

3. What are opportunities that I can create from the crises that I’ve faced? 

Running a health club can be challenging. There are many crises that must be averted and properly handled on a daily basis. The best way to come up with new programming ideas is to think about which problems or complaints that could’ve been more easily addressed if you had a program that helped you solve them.