Les Mills showed off its GRIT: plyo workout - an intense plyometrics-based workout - Thursday at Club Industy Live, a stage at its trade show.
Les Mills showed off its GRIT: plyo workout - an intense plyometrics-based workout - Thursday at Club Industy Live, a stage at its trade show.
At the FRIC Fitness and Wellness International Congress in Rijeka, Croatia, on June 22, a strategic partnership was announced between IHRSA and CLT Sportski Savjeti (representative for Les Mills in Croatia).
“IHRSA is pleased to work with a strong partner in the newest EU country," stated Hans Muench, director of IHRSA Europe. "By partnering with CLT, IHRSA is leveraging global strengths and local expertise in order to grow the sector and raise awareness about the health benefits of exercise.”
For the complete press release, go to the IHRSA Media Center.
Leisure Industry Week, which runs Sept. 17-21 in Birmingham, England, got off to a strong start earlier this week. One of the UK’s largest health industry events, LIW is divided into six sections - Health & Fitness, Sport, Eat & Drink, Pool & Spa, Play & Attractions and Leisure Facilities.
The trade show was busy with Ojmar, Cybex, Matrix, Technogym, Keiser, MyZone, Les Mills, Star Trac, Precor and Vicore among the booths.
More than 9,000 attendees are expected to see the latest products, take part in interactive features and attend educational discussions.
IHRSA staff Hans Muench and Alison O'Kane Giannaras were busy on the first two days with meetings with the Fitness Industry Association, IHRSA´s Strategic Media Partner Health Club Management, Fitness First UK, and Europe Council members Kilian Fisher and Doug Miller.
By Patricia Glynn
According to Dr. James J. Annesi, an exercise and sport psychologist, group fitness can definitely be a very rewarding proposition.
In his book, Enhancing Exercise Motivation: A Guide to Increasing Fitness Center Member Retention, he observes that, “While most new exercisers cite health and fitness gains as reasons for entering exercise programs, they usually cite social aspects as primary reasons for staying.” He goes on to point out that, “A lack of supervision while exercising leads to twice as much dropout, when compared to exercising in groups.”
But knowing this—and actually conducting a successful group fitness program that attracts new clients, leads to lower attrition, and increases profitability—well, those are two very different things.
Enter Justen Maron
Maron, the group fitness director for the Courthouse Athletic Clubs (CAC), a regional chain headquartered in Salem, Oregon, knows how to transform a lackluster group fitness department into an exemplary profit center. Over the past five years, CAC has more than doubled its group fitness attendance; participation has increased from 15% of all members at each site to more than 40%.
So how did CAC, which operates five full-service, well-appointed facilities, each between 45,000 and 55,000 square feet in size, produce such impressive results?
Last year, at the IHRSA convention in San Francisco, Maron shared some tips and strategies during a lecture titled “Build a World Class Group Exercise Program.” Here’s some of what he said:
Lesson 1: Offer Great Classes
One of the major reasons for the improvement, Maron explained, was the introduction of programming from Body Training Systems (BTS), the Marietta, Georgia-based provider of prepackaged turnkey classes such as Group Ride, a group cycling course; Group Centergy, a mind/body workout that marries yoga and Pilates; and Group Kick, a class that combines boxing and other martial arts.
“Bringing in BTS helped to ensure that all of the classes, at all of the clubs, were not only high quality, but also consistent,” he says. The partnership with BTS, he estimates, led to a doubling of participation—from approximately 20,000 to well over 40,000 per month. “Today,” he notes, “our studios are jam-packed on a regular basis.”
Other IHRSA associate members, including Les Mills International, based in Auckland, New Zealand, offer similar prechoreographed group exercise programs.
But CAC didn’t just buy into the BTS model and call it a day. They also invested in their team.
Lesson 2: Invest In Your Staff and Reward Them Appropriately
“We pay for our instructor’s education because we believe it’s a particularly worthwhile investment,” Maron reports. After all, he insists, it is an investment, as opposed to an expense. A great concept, he observes, is worth little if you don’t have great people to execute it.
Of course, while CAC recognizes the value of having an educated and skilled staff, it also understands that that, alone, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to fill your studios consistently. Compensation, therefore, is based on performance rather than the number of certifications accrued.
Maron explains the arrangement: “How much an instructor earns depends on how many people attend the class. If they attract more members to their class, they’re rewarded accordingly. We offer a base pay of $20, and they earn another $.50 for every participant who attends. All told, our average instructors earn from $27 to $29 per class.”
It’s a win-win situation: instructors who work hard and strive to offer excellent courses prosper, and the club watches as revenues increase and attrition rates fall.
Lesson 3: Hire Men and More Men Will Come
Another switch that CAC instituted to boost its numbers involved men: it began to actively recruit males both as teachers and as students. “We began seeking out more male instructors, and, as a result, we’ve been able to attract more men to our classes. Now, 30%-40% of our group participants are male.”
Lesson 4: Learn From Your Mistakes
Despite all its success, CAC inevitably loses a client here and there, but, rather than bemoan the development, Maron regards it as an opportunity. “When people stop attending, we ask them to complete an evaluation to pinpoint why they’re leaving. Sometimes, the reasons are out of our control, but, often, we identify areas where, maybe, we simply weren’t up to par.”
Only by knowing what doesn’t work, Maron insists, can you determine what will.
By Patricia Glynn
Today, I’m inaugurating what will become a regular feature on CBI Unbound. Periodically, I’d like to share advice, recommendations, and thoughts from a variety of industry professionals, based on interviews I’ve conducted with them. I hope these “question-and-answer” posts will be both informative and instructive.
First up is Kelli Hatton. Presently, she serves as a business development consultant for Fitmarc, the regional distributor for LES MILLS in the South Central U.S. She’s also a principal in KMH Fitness Solutions, a Tampa, Florida-based firm that offers educational presentations, speaking engagements, and customized consulting services. She also teaches group fitness classes for the Tampa Metro YMCA and Lifestyle Family Fitness in Tampa.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A colleague once told me that, to be successful, I needed to figure out what I really wanted. In other words, what did I want to be when I grew up? Then, once I answered this, I needed to figure out how to make it happen.
I’ve always been motivated to assist other people. I’d often take on projects or jobs in order to help others. But, by doing so, by focusing on their needs, I wasn’t doing much in the way of advancing my own career. Actually, all I was doing was creating a longer to-do list.
Finally, I came to a realization: I had to get clarity, and I had to focus on me. I began devoting energy toward what was important to me. It not only led to less stress, but, for the first time, I began to experience success.
Have you read a book that’s made a difference for you, either personally or professionally?
I loved Seth Godin’s book The Dip: A Little Book that Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick). I learned that, sometimes, you have to stick with things—and, sometimes, you just need to quit. It all comes down to determining whether or not what you’re doing is moving you toward your ultimate goal. So, if something isn’t working for you, quitting doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Instead, it means you’ve recognized the fruitlessness of that approach. You’re letting go of what isn’t working so you can embrace what will work.
How do you stay fit—and what helps keep you motivated to stay fit?
Group fitness has always been one of my favorite forms of exercise—it’s just so much fun! I never get bored with it. Since college, I’ve been a group instructor. And, currently, when I’m not traveling, I teach LES MILLS’ BODYPUMP and BODYFLOW classes. Additionally, in the past couple of years, I’ve found myself running and cycling a lot more.
Keeping fit is really important to me. I remain active because it’s enjoyable and because it makes me feel great. I also remain committed for my kids—I want to play and run with them, and I want to be an example for them, too. By growing up in a household where fitness is valued and practiced, I believe they’re far more likely to remain healthy and active as they grow older.
Why do you work in the fitness industry?
Helping people improve their lives is important to me, and I’ve always wanted to work in an industry where I’d be able to make a difference. And my aim was to find a position that would allow me to marry my love for fitness with my professional skills. In my present role in business development for Fitmarc, I’ve been able to do exactly that.
I consult with club owners and managers, assisting them in a variety of ways, including helping them identify strategies to enhance member relations, and to efficiently market and grow their business. Partnering with Fitmarc has allowed me to use my skills to introduce fitness to more people. It’s a unique chance and has meant that I’ve been able to positively influence far more people than would otherwise have been possible.
By Mia Coen
Rooster Racing. They’re a team of Les Mills instructors and avid cyclists who participate in races to raise money for cancer victims and survivors. In my most recent post, Changing Lives Via the Bike, I reported on the team’s success in the LIVESTRONG Challenge—a series of three national races where participants raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF).
I just got the latest scoop. Catching up again with Jim Ray, the team leader and co-founder of the Rooster Racing team, he filled me in on the stats for the race in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But look at these numbers, side by side, as each race is completed!
July 10, 2011: Davis, California Race
Funds Raised: $905,000
August 20-21, 2011: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Funds Raised: $2.6 million
The number of participants, funds raised, and donors is growing exponentially! But that’s not the only good news. Ray tells me, “It’s official! Mike Larsen, one of our team captains, won the Individual Messenger Award for the Team LIVESTRONG Challenge Philly!”
In my previous article, Ray mentioned the possibility of Larsen being a candidate for the award for having reached the most individual donors. Today, I can confirm, that he’s done it! Congratulations to Larsen, Rooster Racing, and the LIVESTRONG Challenge for such an amazing accomplishment!
But it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. There’s a third and final race in Austin, Texas in October—but not before the Roosters ride it out at the Fitmarc/Les Mills National Lonestar Event this weekend!
“This will be a gathering of over 1,000 Les Mills instructors, trainers, program coaches, and program directors,” says Ray. “The CEO of Les Mills international will be there, as well as other principals in the corporate leadership. Every one of our fitness programs will be presented in full and attended by hundreds of instructors.”
The Roosters will be the hosts of an old school master class called Best of RPM, showcasing the best music tracks from the past 14 years of the popular Les Mills RPM class.
As the Rooster’s support of LIVESTRONG continues, so will our interest in their amazing achievements!
By Mia Coen
Meet Rooster Racing.
They’re a team of determined cyclists who believe in the fight against cancer, raising awareness, and getting people involved in “the fight.” Check out their website. It’ll tell you just that. It won’t tell you, however, that they have partnered with Les Mills International—yes, the world leader in group-fitness programming—to raise over $100,000 at three LiveSTRONG events in California, Pennsylvania, and Texas to support the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF). I began chronicling their efforts in the August edition of CBI.
I recently caught up with Jim Ray, the team leader and co-founder of the Rooster Racing team. They already have one race under their belt (the Davis, California race in July), and are gearing up for next week’s race in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 20th and 21st. The first race in California brought in a whopping 1,468 participants, 11,800 donors, and $905,000 to support cancer patients and survivors. This upcoming race in Philly should be another tremendous success!
“One of our Team Captains, Mike Larsen, is one of the top fundraisers as an individual for the LiveSTRONG Challenge, Philadelphia,” says Ray. “He has raised just under $30,000. In addition, he's a candidate to be recognized as the top ‘messenger’ for the event by having reached the most individual donors.”
But their efforts don’t stop there. Following the Philly race next week, they’ll be participating in the Lonestar 2011 Event the following weekend, August 27th and 28th. Fitmarc, the South Central U.S. distributor for Les Mills, is supporting the Les Mills National Lonestar Event, a gathering of over 1,000 Les mills instructors, trainers, program coaches, and directors in Arlington, Texas for the largest group fitness event in U.S. history!
At Lonestar, you can take virtually any Les Mills class at this two-day-long Mega Quarterly Workshop. “By the way,” inserts Ray, “the Body Pump class will have 400 sets of weights, barbells, and benches awaiting eager participants. The RPM classes will have 220 bikes. This event will be huge!”
They like to say they’re going old school, because Rooster Racing will be hosting a special “Best of RPM” Master Class and showcasing the best music tracks from the past 14 years of Les Mills’ RPM class. “We’ve already ‘sold’ (collected donations for LAF) over 100 seats for our special Best of RPM LiveSTRONG indoor ride on Friday, August 26th, and we’re well on our way to selling it out at 150 bikes,” Ray says.
Congrats on your success, Roosters! We can’t wait to hear how the rest of your summer goes!
By Jon Feld
The club industry always seems to have room for one more. Soon, dance-exercise programmers like Les Mills and Zumba will be moving over to welcome a newcomer, Batuka: The Beat of Life.
If there’s one thing writing for CBI has taught me, it’s that industry innovation can come from anywhere—and anyone. I’ve talked to manufacturers who started in areas far outside the fitness realm, but found applications in exercise; actors who developed unique workouts; and more. Enter Cali, Colombian-born Batuka founder Kike (pronounced “kee kay”) Santander. In the upcoming February edition of CBI’s “Value Proposition” article, we talk about his TV show—Operación Triunfo—and how it led to an exercise program geared toward helping contestants endure the grueling telecast schedule.
We also discuss his credentials as a top Latin American music producer, working with the likes of Carlos Santana, Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, and more. But that was about as far as we went. Often, we don’t have the opportunity to expand on some of the amazing things we unearth when we speak with people, and why we ultimately believe they’ll succeed. In the article, Santander comes across as a professional musician, but his transition is much more impressive than that. He’s a master of reinvention.
While he loves music, he chose to launch his career as a doctor, spending seven years in school to complete his degree. After his first year in practice, he decided he missed music so much that he moved to Bogota, Colombia, and started singing in a bar. As time passed, he became a master of “hooks,” writing more than 1,500 commercial jingles and mastering the craft of producing, arranging, and engineering. Since then, 42 of Santander’s songs have reached Billboard’s “Hot Latin Song” charts, including 11 No. 1s and 29 top 10s.
And now it’s time for Santander’s next reinvention: Batuka. When the series was introduced in Spain in 2005, it sold more than 1.5 million DVDs, resulting in initial revenues of over 30 million Euros (more than $40 million), and spawned five top-10 hits in the country.
Like so many before him, Santander is bringing a clearly prodigious talent to the club industry in the U.S., and—again, like his predecessors—it’s his energy and vision that will help him succeed.
Look for the U.S. debut of Batuka at the upcoming IHRSA International Convention and Trade Show!
By Jennifer H. McInerney
Even though the leaves may be starting to change color, we’re going to keep things green here at CBI throughout the month of October. That’s right: our latest issue, due out on Friday, will include our annual green feature (written by yours truly, CBI’s “Green Queen”). This year, I spoke to some of the industry’s leading global club companies about something that sounds scarier than it is: a green audit.
The familiar expression may be “Time is money,” but let’s face it: energy is money, too. The more successful clubs are at reducing their carbon footprint, the more they’ll reduce their bottom line as well.
If you’re looking to improve your club’s energy efficiency (and bottom line), a green audit is a good place to start—especially if you’re scratching your head in confusion over where to begin. A green audit will take into account all of the various areas within your club and pinpoint exactly where you can reap significant savings and—in the case of installing new equipment and systems—generate a high return on investment (ROI). It will examine, among other things, electricity, water, waste, HVAC, the use of environmentally friendly products and practices, and indoor air quality.
This step-by-step approach has worked well for Town Sports International, Fitness First, and Les Mills New Zealand, as you’ll see when you read the October issue. Without spoiling your CBI-reading experience, let me just say that an assessment of this kind has helped each of these companies to set and work toward their long-term green goals—with some impressive results already.
And stay tuned for a “Small Club Sustainability Tool Kit,” right here on CBI Unbound on Friday…
For additional green resources, courtesy of IHRSA, click here.