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Monday
Sep142009

How To Create Profit Centers For Seniors

This week, experts Colin Milner and Emily Liskow discuss programming and profit centers for the senior citizen market:

Q: "I operate a family club and we're interested in adding some services for the senior/mature market. What type of services would you recommended especially those that will help maximize our non-dues revenue?"

A: Exercising in a group setting is always more enjoyable then going at it alone; team training and specialized classes are a great way to target a specific demographic.

For the older demographic (as with most), we have found that the retention rate and utilization rate increases when we can get them involved in a group or team. This helps build a sense of community and creates accountability. Specialized group classes can be offered as part of the group exercise program (fee or non-fee), or they can be broken off into team training to create an additional revenue stream.

Some of the programs that have worked well for us at The Boston Racquet Club are:

  • Stretching Class: Stretching is fundamental at all ages and fitness levels. It is a great way to get the blood flowing and people into the gym. This class can be 15 minutes long, or up to an hour. Yoga for Beginners: A small group exercise class promoted to the "un-flexible" and the "Mature Yoga."
  • Walking groups: Ideal for before work, during lunch or after work. Great program to promote to companies.
  • Zumba (dance classes): This 'dance' class is good for all ages. It is a fun workout and can be adjusted to any fitness level.
  • Squash: Squash is a great cardiovascular workout. This sport can be played well into the later years and acts as a social network.

Emily Liskow, General Manager
Fitcorp - Prudential
www.fitcorp.com

A: Create and charge extra for a Balance Center.

Why? Because:

  • Few older people are screened by their physicians for balance issues until they fall.
  • One out of every three people older than 65 will fall this year.
  • Strength and balance training programs could reduce the number of falls by up to 40 percent.

The program would include the following elements:

  1. Balance and fall risk-assessments.
  2. A outcomes report to be sent to the client's doctor, balance specialist and your billing department. Your balance specialist then discusses a course of action with the client's doctor.
  3. Once a program is created schedule the client's first session. Note: You can find these specialized trainers at California State Fullerton's Center for Successful Aging, or other college or university. Sit back and dream about how you could turn the concept of a balance center into a profit center.
  4. The programming area will have basic wobble boards and strength equipment to a cobblestone path, or more sophisticated computerized strength and balance tools.
  5. After the training session, your clients can read one of your many publications or handouts on balance. They may also register for your weekly educational seminar.

This is only the start. Now it's your turn. Sit back and dream about how you could turn the concept of a balance center into a profit center.

Colin Milner, CEO
International Council on Active Aging (ICAA)
866/335-9777
cmilner@attglobal.net
www.icaa.cc

Monday
Sep072009

How To Motivate Without Money

This week, experts Alex McMillan, Bonnie Mattalian, Ryan Vogt, and Diogo Angelino discuss how to motivate your personal training staff without money:

Q: "My club has frozen wages and has implemented a hiring freeze, making it difficult to keep our staff motivated. What are some creative ideas to keep my staff of 8 personal trainers focused and motivated?"

Alex McMillan NASM, ACE CPT, Owner
Fitness Profit Solutions
360/600-2441
alex@alex-mcmillan.com


A: During challenging times you must focus on your team’s strengths. What can your TEAM do to drive the company’s non-dues revenue helping to right the ship? If your team realizes their efforts help the club’s bottom-line, you can expect improved performance. If your team of 8 knows that you believe in them and they have the ability to deliver their strengths. They’ll be more focused and motivates. Here is what you can do. Devote daily time to E.M.P.O.W.E.R. your team:

Education: Make those around you better.
Motivation: Show them your passion…and learn what drives theirs.
Preparation: Prepare like you are the busiest/most successful club in town.
Opportunities: Deliver opportunities to grow- lectures, classes, corporate fitness
WOW Factor: Teach your trainers to treat their clientele like King/Queens
Expectations: Your staff must know what is expected of them
Reward: Look for little reasons to recognize and reward your staff

Ryan Vogt, Fitness Director
Ryan also is a freelance writer, presenter and fitness consultant
Tri-City Court Club and LifeQuest Fitness Center
ryan@tricitycourtclub.com
www.tricitycourtclub.com

A: Personal Training revenues in most clubs have seen a significant decrease during the economic crisis. In most cases, that means the training team feels it in their pockets, and need an extra push to keep their eye on goals and service objectives.

Here are a few quick ideas to help inspire your team:

  1. Different things motivate different people. Have a good talk with the trainer and acknowledge what is going on. Find out if there are any barriers or stumbling blocks that can be easily removed. Is your club doing everything it possibly can to promote personal training?
  2. Give the trainer a project, event or program to begin working on for the next month. Ask them to outline the project in full with processes, costs, and anticipated ROI. If they don’t know how to do this, pair them with a mentor or coach them yourself. Give them the tools and resources they need to launch a successful program.
  3. Set in place a plan with small daily or weekly goals to achieve, so that the trainer is headed towards a certain goal or objective that can be accomplished in small steps. Recognize and reward effort.
  4. The best question to ask your staff every day is “What do you need from me?”. Don’t wait for someone to come to you to acknowledge a need or a challenge. Achieve more positive outcomes with an engaged and proactive leadership style.

Bonnie Patrick Mattalian, President
Club & Spa Synergy Group Consultants
732/236-2273
bmattalian@clubsynergygroup.com
www.clubsynergygroup.com

A: From my experience in Portugal working with Personal Trainers, the best way to keep your PT staff motivated is to implement one or more of the following tips:

  • Pay them per PT session that they give to a costumer, for example, if you pay 17 Euros per one hour PT session and if one member of your staff does 50 PT sessions per month, he will receive 850 Euros. Allow them to work as long as they want, they can earn more money, but the club will not lose, because they will sell more;
  • Create levels of earning per PT session given, for example, 1 to 49 sessions a month they can earn 17 Euros. But for 50 or more they can earn 19 Euros a session. This will induce the increasing of membership retention and profit for the club; (remember to adapt the levels to your club reality) Finally, after implementing new strategies, you must stay alert and keep giving feedbacks to your staff, guide and inspire them for success.
  • Create a rank to input healthy competition between your staff, at the end of a month or a trimester, give a prize to the best seller and professional. Make sure every member of your staff and costumers know who is the best professional of the month/trimester;
  • Allow/”defy” them to work as a class instructor or on other fitness project and see if they fill more motivated with that.

Finally, after implementing new strategies, you must stay alert and keep giving feedbacks to your staff, guide and inspire them for success.

Diogo Angelino, Assistant Director
Solplay - Family Health Club
diogo.angelino@solplay.pt
www.solplay.pt

Monday
Aug312009

How To Implement A Strategic Plan

This week, experts Barry Klein, Joe Cirulli, and Jill Kinney discuss how to create and implement a strategic plan:

Q: "I am currently developing a small independent club. What are some tips on how to create/implement a strategic plan?"

A: This is a wise question!

The key issue to consider is why your facility will be unique. Every fitness facility has the same check-list of features – weights, cardio, etc. Why will your facility stand out? To whom will it appeal? Are there enough of these target prospects in your market (an 8 to 12 minute travel time from your facility).

With a unique value proposition and confidence that there is a market, you must create financial projections and you must write a business plan. “Thinking about it” is not adequate (and banks and investors will need a written plan). Use this as an opportunity to run various scenarios. The most likely scenario is that your initial revenue will be ½ of your projections and your expenses will be twice your projections (trust me…).

When you step back and consider the full scope of your plan, you should see consistency. If you want to be the low-cost player in your market, then your plan should be consistent with that vision (in terms of target members, expense structure, expected attrition, etc.) Similarly, the profile of muscle gyms, women’s-only gyms, Gen X gyms, senior citizen gyms, etc. are all different. Good luck!

Barry Klein, Owner
Elevations Health Club
barry@elevationshealthclub.com
www.elevationshealthclub.com

A: A good strategic plan begins with a thorough understanding of the marketplace and leads to realistic expectations on the most critical aspect of your new business, the membership projections.

Start with a model that identifies the number of people (residents & workforce) within a 10 minute radius of your club. Take into account only those people who meet your age, income and educational criteria. Multiply this number by 17-20% (the average percentage of the population likely to join a health club.) This will give you a good estimate on the number of people in your market who are likely to join any health club.

Now, develop a complete list of all of the competitors in the marketplace (including facilities that may not be exactly like your club model) and estimate their membership capacity (not their current membership level). Reduce the number of likely health club joiners by the competitors capacity and you will have a good sense of how many available likely health club joiners their are in your market. This number should be 2-4 times higher than the number of members you need to be financially successful.

In the process of creating this market analysis, you will gain not only insight into the number of members you are likely to attract, but the competitors strengths and weaknesses. Together, this should predefine the challenges you are likely to face in launching your new club.

Good luck!

Jill Stevens Kinney, Managing Director
Clubsource Development Partners LLC
jill@clubsource.com

A: The first step is Strategy. Determine what separates your club from the competition. Why would someone be willing to spend his or her money on your service versus a competitor? Then everyone in your organization has to understand it be aligned behind it. That means the Vision, Mission, Core Values, Core Purpose and Culture of the organization has to be defined and well understood. Everyone has to support it.

The Structure of the company has to be designed to accomplish it. So design a company that is easy for the customers to do business with.

Determine what separates your club from the competition. Execution is what usually separates out the exceptional companies. The best mechanism I have found is a regular 2-hour meeting every Monday morning for all management. During that meeting we evaluate how we're doing in a number of areas. Everyone knows what their responsibilities are and that they'll be held accountable for them. Once a year we set the Strategic Plan and Budget. We evaluate our progress on a monthly basis at these meetings.

It's the staff that makes up the culture. The value of knowing the core values of a company is that it makes you aware of the type of people that should be working there. Your entire hiring process should be designed around finding people who have the same values as the company. Trying to change a person's core values is virtually impossible.

Develop the team's Leadership Skills and always being on the lookout for new Talent.

Mr. Joe Cirulli, President & Owner
Gainesville Health & Fitness Center
jcirulli@ghfc.com
www.ghfc.com

Monday
Aug242009

Inexpensive Online Marketing Ideas

This week, experts Sarah Hoffman and Brenda Abdilla discuss the inexpensive online marketing ideas:

Q: "My club is looking for free or inexpensive ways to market our club online. What are some useful techniques or tools?"

A: Once you are set-up, email marketing can be very powerful as well as inexpensive. Getting “set-up” however is what stops most companies from launching major email campaigns.

The first thing to do is start the process of collecting email addresses at every possible opportunity. Offer free passes at local events in exchange for email addresses; collect them at member events and of course on your website. Once you have prospect and member email addresses contact a trusted group like RetentionManagement.com.

Marketing to your members will increase participation (retention) as well give you a chance to get more referrals and even create campaigns for prospective members.

...always have a reason to email prospects and members. Make it about them. Speaking of trusted—tread carefully when it comes to buying email lists etc. Because of SPAM laws you cannot simply send out an email to bunches of people—you could loose your URL and get your site shut down. You will need a 3rd party to send out the email.

Finally, always have a reason to email prospects and members. Make it about them. One great place to start is by using the free campaigns on ClubsForTheCure.com. This is a great cause and will give you a fantastic reason to contact people.

Brenda Abdilla, President
Management Momentum
303/456-1210
babdilla@managementmomentum.net
www.managementmomentum.net

A: There are several things your Club can do online for marketing purposes. The one thing you want to keep in mind is that the more “Google Power” you have, the more success you will find. “Google Power” simply puts your club to the top of a search in particular instances. This, in turn, raises your bottom line!

Here are just a few things I would recommend to get your “Google Power.”

  1. Create a Blog. Make a Blog for your club, with whatever content would be necessary for you (Ex. Nutrition Tab, Club Information Tab, Ask an Expert Tab, Interesting Health/Fitness News Tab, etc.) The Blogging platforms I recommend include:
    a. Blogger.com
    b. WordPress.org
    c. WordPress.com

  2. Join at least one (or two) Social Networking Sites. The demographics of your members will determine which Social Networking sites will be best for you. That being said, my Top 3 include:
    a. Facebook
    b. LinkedIn
    c. Twitter

    Once you join these, make sure to become actively involved with them. Don’t spam people. Engage with your audience. Offer valuable advice that members and/or potential members will find useful.

  3. Utilize “Linking.” Once you do the above two steps you can start “linking” them. For example, you set up your Blog. On your blog, then, you will have the links to your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. Linking is a sure way to boost “Google Power.”

There are so many unlimited things you can do with your online club marketing. The possibilities are endless and many of them come with no price tag other than the labors involved with setting them up/managing them.

Sarah Kay Hoffman, Marketing/Membership
ClubSport San Ramon
shoffman@clubsportsr.com
www.clubsportsr.com

Monday
Aug172009

What Are The Attributes Of A Club Leader

This week, experts Herb Lipsman and Emily Liskow discuss the most important attributes for being a leader at a health club:

Q: "What are the three most important attributes for a health club leader?"

A: Emotional Intelligence: The club business is about dealing with people. We need to attract and retain the right people employees, to attract and retain members and to effectively communicate and relate to owners, vendors and members of our communities. A leader with emotional intelligence skills has the ability to listen effectively, observe behaviors and body language effectively and empathize with the other person in all human interactions, leading to more effective outcomes.

Modeling Appropriate Behaviors: Children learn more by what they see and hear from their parents, rather than what their parents tell them to do…likewise, employees mimic the behaviors of the leaders in the organization, rather than follow directives or policy manuals. How do the leaders dress and groom themselves? Do they set a good example cleaning and tidying? How do they react to stress? Do they demonstrate a commitment to healthy lifestyle choices?

Knowing and Understanding the Numbers: There is no mission without margin. The club cannot achieve its mission unless it becomes a viable business. The leader must have a command of the key metrics that drive the business including membership sales and attrition, key revenue sources, labor costs, key operating and fixed expenses, etc.

Herb Lipsman, President & CEO
The Health Club Company
281/277-0555
hlipsman@thehealthclubcompany.com
www.thehealthclubcompany.com

A: I feel that the three most important attributes to being a leader at a health club are:

Consistency: Be clear with expectations to both the staff and the members. Be organized. Have plans and systems in place. Know what the goals are and make sure that the vision is shared.

Consistency, leading by example and having fun! Leading by example: Put your money where your mouth is. Be an on-site presence. Know and learn the roles of everyone at your club. Be a team player.

Having fun: Keep things exciting, new and challenging for the staff and the members. Make your club a fun place to be.

Emily Liskow, General Manager
Boston Racquet Club - Fitcorp
281-732-9757
www.fitcorp.com

Monday
Aug102009

Is There A Standard Temperature In A Club?

This week, experts Rob Bishop and Bonnie Patrick Mattalian reveal the most comfortable interior temperature for different areas of a health club:

Q: "Is there a health club standard as to the temperature of the general area of a health club? Is there a standard for the temperature in an enclosed aerobic room?"

A: According to the American College of Sports Medicine's Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines, the "ideal" air temperature range for a health/fitness facility is 68-72 degrees. Locker rooms, hallways and lobby areas will feel comfortable at 72 degrees. These areas can be maintained at an even slightly higher temperature, without complaints, to save on cooling costs in the summer. Members will prefer exercise areas to be closer to the 68 degree range. I have been in facilities that set their AC temperature at 60 degrees in the summer so their members wouldn't sweat! It can never be too cool for some members. However, below 68 degrees would not only be extreme but an unnecessary waste of energy. An air temperature above 72 degrees can be very uncomfortable in an exercise area. Members will complain profusely.

...the "ideal" air temperature range for a health/fitness facility is 68-72 degrees. Humidity and air movement can also play an important role in how members "perceive" the temperature. High humidity will cause the room to feel stuffy and members will report that the room is "hot" even though the air temperature is in a comfortable range. Fans will make members feel more comfortable as the moving air will speed evaporation of sweat from the skin.

Rob Bishop, Owner
Elevations Health Club
rob@elevationshealthclub.com
www.elevationshealthclub.com

A: We utilize the ACSM Facility Standards when setting guidelines for temperatures in a Fitness Center. Based on facility design, usage, programs and demographics, these ranges may vary significantly.

Most active fitness areas would have a temperature range of 68-72 degrees, based on the heat generated by amount of cardio equipment and usage patterns. Humidity levels, air flow, and outside air exchanges are also important factors to consider, depending upon the climate of your location and the physical plant of the structure. Include strategically placed fans on ceilings or around the room for optimal air circulation, lessening the load for cooling or heating.

Setting a standard for a group exercise room is more of a challenge, given the fact that different programs may present different temperature needs. Yoga, stretch, and some mat-based classes require warmer temperatures of 70-74 degrees (or higher in the instance of Hot Yoga), while high intensity classes at high room occupancy levels may require settings of 66-68 degrees. Temperature settings should be adjustable for this purpose in class settings.

Individual participants have different comfort levels and needs. According to Hervey Lavoie of Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative, the best approach is to employ a professional mechanical engineer who is experienced in the design of health clubs and the specifics of the facility programming needs.

Bonnie Patrick Mattalian, President
The Club Synergy Group Consultants
732/236-2273
bmattalian@clubsynergygroup.com
www.clubsynergygroup.com

Monday
Aug032009

The Benefits of Selling Month-to-Month

Q: "I've been in the industry for over 13yrs. I don't understand this new wave of no-contracts. How does a club stay afloat on month to month membership basis? I know its the wave of the future but how does it work financially for the club? What is the benefit to offering no contracts? And should we make the transition as it seems most clubs are?"

A: Todays potential and existing Club members prefer the month to month option over the longterm commitment associated with a one, two or three year contract.

Given the fact that 25% of members are inactive 6 months after joining and that rises to 50% being inactive after one year, one of the black eyes to our industry has been the reputation we have earned from binding inactive members to long term retail installment contracts.

By shifting our industry to a month to month model, one club at a time, we will become a business that focuses on member retention AS WELL as new member acquisition.

If our members are free to leave with written notice at any time we will be much more cognizant of their satisfaction with our service, programs and facility upkeep.

Can this model prove as profitable as a contract sales model?

Yes...absolutely!

First, we will attract more members.

Second, our reputation as a service provider will improve.

Granted members will leave at a faster pace but with more joining the outcome will still result in a net gain for each of us.

Geoff Dyer, Founder
Lifestyle Family Fitness
gdyer@lff.com
www.lff.com

A: No contracts (month to month agreements) have actually been around for some time, especially for higher priced facilities. The main challenge is obviously proving your value on a month to month basis, but I believe that is what elevates and promotes a higher level of club service... it influences your entire staff culture to focus on member retention. The other challenge is that it places a lot of pressure on your sales process. If you don't have members locked into a contract, you have higher potential to lose them, which means you need to be selling at the same rate or higher than your losses.

The benefit to offering no contracts is that a large percentage of those interested in a club membership can be turned off by the long term commitment. Therefore, knowing that they (the prospect) can leave at any time is a comforting decision, especially in this economy. We offer two options: a one-year contract which allows a new member to join for a $25 processing fee or a month to month option offered at a $250-$500 initiation fee. The contract member has a buyout option to pay the full initiation (or pro-rated) if they wish to leave the club before the year expires.

Offering these two options during challenging economic times are working for us and yes, I would recommend the same for others. Please let me know if you need further assistance.

Jarod Cogswell, General Manager
ClubSport Oregon
jcogswell@clubsports.com
www.clubsports.com/oregon

Monday
Jul272009

Top Three Reasons People Join a Club

Q: "Based on the most up to date research, what are the top three reasons for people joining a health club? Are there differences between age groups and sex?"

A: There are many reasons why people join health clubs. This is evident by the total number of health clubs and different types of clubs out there to join. Some clubs offer any activity and amenity a person could want, while others focus on a few core activities. Whatever the consumer goal, there is a health club out there designed to help meet that goal.

Whatever the consumer goal, there is a health club out there designed to help meet that goal. IHRSA recently (April 2009) conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans and asked them why they are attracted to their health club, what their personal goals were, and if they were not members of a health club, what prevented them from joining. The responses were very interesting. When members were asked what attracted them to their current health club, the top 3 selections were made (multiple selections were allowed):

  • For their overall/health & wellbeing (69% of health club members)
  • For the variety of equipment, strength and cardiovascular equipment (55%)
  • In order to get my work out in, rather than to socialize (48%) When we take a closer look at the responses by analyzing the demographic data we get a better understanding of what motivates people to join clubs and continue to exercise at them:
    • Exercising for overall health/wellbeing was the most frequently selected response by all health club members. However, the most notable demographic consumer group citing this reason were those who have incomes over $80,000. Income appears to play a significant role when working out with friends and family; members with incomes between $41,000 and $80,000 cite this reason more so than those who make less than $40,000.
  • When we take a look at how age/generation factors into selection we see that Generation Y (19-29 year olds) are most likely to cite the following reasons more so than the Eisenhower Generation:
    • The variety of equipment, strength and cardiovascular equipment
    • Access to group exercise classes
    • My friends and family work out at the club While Generation X (20-33 year olds) are most likely, as compared to the Eisenhower Generation, to cite that they use the club because they feel obligated to go because of the money they spend on membership. Baby Boomers are most likely, as compared to the Eisenhower Generation, to cite that they use the club because their friends and family work out there.
  • As for how gender plays into the selection process, it seems that women are most likely to select a health club to gain access to group exercise classes, more so than men. See below for more detailed reasons why members choose their health club, as well as the personal goals that motivate them to exercise there and what prevents others from joining a health club.

An online survey of 1,000 Americans conducted in April 2009, indicated that health club members (14% of the sample), keep going back to their health club for the following reasons:

Additional demographic and statistically significant selections can be found by visiting IHRSA.org/research.

Monday
Jul202009

Average Cost of Selling a Membership

Q: "What is the average cost of selling a membership to a fitness facility, factoring in advertising costs, sales staff, and number of members?"

A: Sales staffing and commissions are usually in the $75-$150 range per new member. $100-$125 is common with higher priced clubs.

Direct marketing costs (not including marketing personnel) are usually in the $75-$150 range as well. $100-$125 is also a common direct marketing cost with higher priced clubs.

If you have a marketing staff you would take that number and divide by your sales number to determine the full marketing expense load. My estimate is that it would add $10-$50 per sale depending on your marketing team payroll and head count.

All in, you can be at $200-$250 per sale in expenses for a premium priced club membership. This would be anywhere from 2-3 month of member tenure to break-even on acquisition costs. Retention has a much higher ROI.

Bill McBride, Chief Operating Officer
Club One
bill.mcbride@clubone.com

www.clubone.com
 

A: In this challenging economy, it is vital that you closely watch costs, reduce expenses, and according to business experts outside our industry, do not reduce marketing because everyone else will, or do not reduce sales training. You need to sharpen the saw as you will have less leads now than you did one year ago or do not diminish customer touch. The members will become more demanding and less tolerant of challenges/problems.

The simplest way to enable a small business owner to make better decisions, implement better, and get the necessary support to take action or follow through during tough times is to have a group of peers who are other CEOs.

The average REX Roundtable member has a cost of sales between $170 and $300. Keep in mind that a more expensive club may have a higher acquisition cost that profitably fits in their budget.

REX Roundtables has more than 90 club organizations (totaling over 500 clubs) that submit and share actual data three times a year. Many IHRSA past and present Board members and Presidents, including the current one are members of the REX Roundtables.

Eddie Tock, Partner
REX Roundtables for Executives™ Licensee
281-732-9757
eddie@eddietock.com
www.rexonline.org

A: The question posted in part answers itself. The formula of advertising costs + sales staff costs / # of members highlights just some of the variables that come into play.

Here are some other variables to consider:

  1. How many leads does the club get?
  2. How does the club do on lead conversion?
  3. How much is spent in TOTAL on advertising and marketing.*

* When figuring the total cost of advertising and marketing, be sure to include the following:

  • Direct advertising costs
  • Signage and billboards
  • Internal branding and uniforms
  • Brochures and fliers;
  • Web site creation/support;
  • Phone line/call costs
  • Sales staff wages, commissions, taxes, etc...
  • Approx 10% of front desk costs
  • Your new member integration program. A vital service new members look for and should be budgeted into every new sale. If you don’t have one, it’s costing you sales. (more information on this topic can be found at www.face2faceretention.com)

CLUB X has 2500 members and loses 1000 members through attrition. It sells 1200 new memberships annually from 2000 inquiries. Annual revenues near $3m and the clubs spends 5% or $150,000 annually on direct advertising and marketing and an additional 7% or $210,000 on the sales staffing and essential services to support each new membership. Therefore each inquiry costs $180 and each new sale cost $300. More importantly every time they skimp on essential services such as a proper new member integration program and systematized retention strategies, they will likely have to spend a further $300 to replace the lost member.

Going the extra mile to retaining a member at CLUB X with all costs factored in would equate to just $87 in year 1 and $46 annually thereafter. A wise an profitable investment.

Paul Brown, President
Face2Face Retention Systems
888/323-20107
paulb@face2faceretention.com
www.face2faceretention.com

Monday
Jul132009

Best Practices for Stretching in Water

"I just began teaching an aqua stretch class. On land the stretches should be held 20-30 seconds. It seems water everything is different - heart rate, impact, etc...

Q: "Is there different criteria for water stretches?"

A:There have been many studies conducted with flexibility in mind. The majority of land studies conclude that static stretches should be performed with warm muscles and held for 30 seconds to achieve the maximal benefit. This statement seems to be dependent on age (Younger (<39) 30 seconds, older (>65) 60 seconds).

There is also a great body of evidence that supports that total daily stretching time has more influence on improving flexibility than a single bout (ex: 10 second hamstring stretch performed 6 times per day).

As on land, stretching in the water should be performed after warming up the muscles. When determining stretching duration, the aquatic environment should be taken into account. If you are performing stretches in a cooler body of water, a shorter static stretch followed by dynamic exercises should be performed to assist in maintaining muscle temperature. In a warmer pool, maintenance of muscle temperature will not pose as much of a challenge and thus stretches can be longer in duration and without interruption.

The aquatic environment provides unique properties to assist in increasing range of motion. Learning how to utilize this environment will assist in providing depth to any aquatic class.

Lori A. Sherlock, Research Committee Co-Chair
Aquatic Exercise Association, Inc.
941/486-8600
www.aeawave.com

References:
1. Bandy, W.D., Irion, J.M., & Briggler, M. (1997). The effect of time and frequency of static stretching on flexibility of the hamstring muscles. Physical Therapy, 77, 1090-1096
2. Cipriani, D., Abel, B., & Pirrwitz, D. (2003). A comparison of two stretching protocols on hip range of motion: implications for total daily stretch duration. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 17, 274-278
3. Feland, J.B., Myrer, J.W., Schulthies, S.S., Fellingham, G.W., & Measom, G.W. (2001). The effect of duration of stretching of the hamstring muscle group for increasing range of motion in people aged 65 years or older. Physical Therapy, 81, 1110-1117