3. How do I find the right staff to run programs for kids and teens?
Finding the right person to run your kids programming is crucial to your program’s success. From tennis to fitness to active play, it is important to staff programs with people who:
- enjoy working with kids,
- are passionate about what they do,
- and have experience with the type of program the club is running.
Bill Parisi, founder and director of Parisi Speed School, notes that staffing can be one of the biggest barriers to getting involved with kids programming. “If you find the right staff you’re going to be 80% there," says Parisi. "If you find the wrong staff it doesn’t matter the program, it’s not going to work.”
That's why it's crucial to hire people that like being around and who want to coach and mentor kids. Parisi knows these kinds of people are not always easy to find. His advice is to always be in hiring mode and to have a system you can go back to, and encourage constant, open dialogue and communication in real time.
If you make sure everyone understands the objectives of your business and their job responsibilities, then you're on your way to having a fantastic kids program at your club.
Hiring the right people is key to the children's programs at the Claremont Club, according to President and CEO Mike Alpert, and he says their interview process is fundamental because the staff set the tone.
"We interview differently but are very choosy with our staff," says Alpert. "The dynamic between the staff and the children is to me the absolute thing." To Alpert, you can have the best programming and curriculum, but if the staff doesn't implement your programs with excitement and get kids involved, then it's not a successful program.
4. What age is best for adolescents to become full-fledged members?
Children and teens ages 6 to 17 need at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. According to the American Council on Exercise, children can begin their journey with lifting weights around the age of 7 or 8, or as soon as they understand how to follow directions.
However, children should never be doing scaled down versions of adult exercising. Often children’s fitness goals can be accomplished through play like a game of tag. We recommend aligning your exercise program to the CDC’s recommendations for children’s exercise. To avoid injury, children—like adults—should be taught proper form before adding any sort of weight exercise.
When adolescents can get out on the adult exercise floor varies from gym to gym, but your club should have a written policy on the age and allowed activities for members of all ages. This should clearly define the age requirements and expectations as well as the expected amount of supervision for different activities. You could consult a pediatrician to give your policy extra validity.
5. Which locker room should children use?
Many club operators struggle with allowing small children in opposite-gender locker rooms. While most would agree it would be unsafe to leave small children unattended in a locker room, others express concerns about the invasion of privacy children may pose. To best manage this issue, IHRSA recommends:
- Offer free, short-term babysitting (approximately 20 minutes) while a parent showers or changes.
- Establish an age restriction governing children in opposite-gender locker rooms. If possible, consult a physician to give your club’s policy added credibility.
- If an age restriction isn’t imposed, post signs asking parents to use discretion when bringing opposite-sex children into the locker room.
Additionally, if a family feels uncomfortable taking their child into adult changing rooms, consider making a private or single-occupancy space available as an alternative. Businesses are not obligated to provide privacy accommodations, such as a privacy screen, curtained area, or private changing room. However, if your club chooses to do so, it must make such accommodations available on the same terms and in the same manner to all patrons.
6. What steps do we need to take to make sure families feel safe in the club?
The more information you are able to provide to prospective families, the safer and more secure they will feel in your ability to care for their children safely. Demonstrate in your literature and preparation that you are informed and capable.
If your club includes a pool, you should take extra steps to limit liability and protect younger club members. Drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional, injury-related death among children ages 1 to 14-years-old. As such, you should post clear, bold signs explaining rules and warnings about pool use at each entrance to your club's pool. Also, ensure your employees are aware of the swimming abilities of all children that have access to your pool as some water features and activities may attract kids who do not know how to swim.
7. How has technology impacted kids presence or programming in the club?
In many ways, technology has helped improve children’s safety within clubs as well as reduce club liability. Technology like keypad locks and codes to enter the child care area ensure children are safe in your club.
Electronic check-in technologies such as KidCheck, simplify child care drop-off and pick up by creating matching security stickers for both parent and child to wear to verify the correct child is picked up by the appropriate adult. Technologies like these allow health clubs offering these services instant access to contact information, allergy information, as well as who is authorized as a guardian to pick up the child. The authorized pick-up list is especially critical to preventing parental/familial kidnapping during custody battles.
One of the biggest positives of technology is the enhanced communication from providers to parents. In many places, parents can now tap into a live feed on their phones of the child care center to check in visually on their child. When children are in a club’s day care and experience distress or require assistance going to the bathroom, parents can easily be texted or notified.
Opening your club’s doors to welcome kids and adolescents will require a few extra considerations. However, the benefits, both for your club and community, make it worth considering.