Reopening Communication Begins With Your Team.

Once the pandemic restrictions are lifted, clubs/studios around the country will slowly start to reopen. Much of what I see published these days about plans for reopening is the importance of communicating with your members/clients. This IS very important. Not only does your facility need to take all of the steps necessary to create as safe an environment as possible for your members/clients, but you need to let them know exactly what you have done and will be doing. Their perception of safety is what will bring them back through your doors.

However, before that, you have to communicate with your team. They are going to have their own fears and concerns and if they don’t understand or agree with the reopening procedures, they won’t be able to pass that on to your members/clients.

Start by involving them in the discussion. Before you tell them what the new rules are, ask them what would make them feel safe in delivering their services. Ask them what they think would be important guidelines to put in place. Even if they come up with the same ideas that you had, if they say it first, there will be greater understanding and buy in. They may also come up with some items that you had overlooked. After they are satisfied with their list, ask their thoughts on any additional ideas that you might have had on your list.

Once reopening procedures are set, walk your whole team through the club/studio, mapping out how all of the new guidelines will be actualized. Answer all your teams questions thoroughly so that they are all on the same page and can communicate the guidelines to your members/clients. Document all of this in writing and/or video for their future reference.

Finally, role play potential challenges that may come up with members/clients. There are going to be members/clients that either don’t understand or don’t want to play by the rules. Role play these scenarios with your team and discuss the possible outcomes with them.

The best opportunity you have to get your members/clients back in your club/studio as soon as possible, is to have your team prepped, ready, and eager to help them with the transition into your facility’s new normal.

Good luck!

Are You Ready to Reopen?

The national guidelines for reopening the country put gyms/health clubs/studios into Phase 1. As of Friday, some facilities opened in Georgia. How and if facilities were opening has been a huge discussion over the past week. Where do you stand and are you ready to safely reopen your business?

Our brick and mortar business, Jiva Fitness, is in Easton, PA. First, in PA, gyms are not in the first phase of reopening and I anticipate at least another month or two of being closed. However, now is a great time to talk about the considerations of how to safely open.

Untitled design (87)Let’s start by recognizing that there are the things we can do to prevent the spread of the virus and there are things we can do to increase the perception of what we are doing. What I mean by that is that if we just cleaned, sanitized, moved equipment, etc. and never said anything about it, people would not know how safe it is to come to our facilities. If we want our members/clients to return, we also need to show and tell them everything we are doing. Make everything visible and people will feel more comfortable. I’ve seen some great videos on the internet of clubs talking to their members/clients about what they are doing to safely reopen. That needs to be followed up by signage and by the constant assurance of the staff. (BTW, make sure your staff knows all that you are doing.)

Some things that can be done:

  • Encourage members/clients to stay at home if they are not feeling well. Don’t assume that people are thinking about it. Post a list of symptoms at the door and have them do a mental checklist just to keep them on guard.
  • Taking members temperatures at the door. Some facilities are doing this and others are taking staff’s temperatures. My thoughts? Not having a temperature does not mean they are not carrying the virus. It will create lines that will have to be controlled and spaced. One benefit of this, however, would be the perception of taking every precaution. This isn’t one that we’re going to implement at our facility.
  • Wearing masks would help but remember, you wear them to not infect others, not keep yourself safe. Do you make this mandatory? If optional, it’s always the “inconsiderate of others” types that leave weights on the floor, restack weights improperly, leave sweat on machines, don’t wear masks, and sneeze and cough on everyone and everything. (no rant here 😉 ) I also know masks are uncomfortable and can cause skin irritation when working out. So, I honestly don’t know about this one and will have to make a decision when it gets closer for us.
  • Washing hands on entry and exit seems to be a common precaution. While washing hands on entry would be good, this could also create lines that need to be controlled. As for washing on exit, I’m not sure how necessary or effective it is. For us, we don’t actually have a washroom in our facility, just one in the building’s common hallway. We will be requiring everyone to use the hand sanitizer on entry.
  • Increase the HVAC circulation frequency and change the filter more often if you can. In our historic building, we only have a vented heating system and window air conditioning, so this isn’t something we can do.
  • Increased cleaning schedule. Deeper and more frequent cleaning is needed for floors, equipment, all surfaces, door handles, drinking fountains (although, if we had one, I might turn it off), locker rooms, wash rooms, etc. This also includes having members clean everything that they touch/use (provide plenty of spray disinfectant and wipes or towels).
  • Encourage members to bring their own water bottles and mats. Mats are so up close and personal, I think everyone would be more comfortable using their own.
  • 6′ distance apart and then some. Be generous with space. Remember, “spray” can travel more than 6′. We’re probably going to allow less than half capacity in our studio.
  • Have class equipment out and leave it out. Most studios have equipment located in one location where everyone needs to go to gather and take care of their equipment. We’re going to set up the equipment before class and, after they clean their equipment, members will leave them in place and we will switch the equipment for the next class.
  • Plenty of signage to inform and set expectations. Never assume people know or remember what they should be doing. You can have arrows on the floor to direct traffic and lines to denote 6′ distances. Whatever will help members/clients follow your guidelines.
  • Distance high fives. Keep the social distancing, but keep the social engagement (and maybe a little fun) happening.

Now, for us and many of you, it’s a sit back, wait and see. Then, when we get the official green light to reopen, we need to ask ourselves if we are comfortable with it. You need to feel very confident that opening will not put anyone at additional risk. In the meantime, get your reopening plan ready and make that decision when the time comes.

Best of luck going forward.

From HIIT to SHIIT

We tend to be an industry of all or nothing. “No pain, no gain.” “Just do it!” “Go Big or go home!” That’s true whether we’re talking the platitudes of so-called inspiration or in how we see programming. I remember early in my career thinking that the guidelines had to be followed. ACSM said you had to do cardio 3-5 times per week, resistance training 2-3 times per week, etc, and if you didn’t, you just weren’t committed to getting healthier. Over the years, I learned that anything more than you were currently doing, was beneficial and that the attitude of “there’s no point if you’re not giving it 100%” was sadly misguided and likely to chase away many of the people that needed our help.

Untitled design (72)My current pet peeve is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). It’s hugely popular and very effective, (and I use it with clients regularly) BUT… it’s pushed out onto the population with the expectation that, if you aren’t close to throwing up, you’re wasting your time. I beg to differ.

First, we need to recognize that high intensity does not mean doing special “HIIT exercises”. High intensity is about the challenge level not a particular exercise. One doesn’t need to do Burpees to be working at high intensity. Walking briskly may be high intensity if someone hasn’t been doing it.

Second, HIIT is not fun. That kind of discomfort, even with the shorter time duration, can turn people off of wanting to exercise if they are not used to it. 

Third, HIIT comes with risk. The higher the intensity the higher the risk. Is taking that risk worth hitting a designated % of your VO2 max? Like resistance training and cardiovascular training, HIIT should be built up to. 

Let’s talk SHIIT…. Slightly Higher Intensity Interval Training (Yes, I know. It makes me laugh too.). You can start teaching people what intervals are all about and have them begin them utilizing an only slightly greater speed than is normal for them. Let them get acclimated as to what higher intensity is all about and gradually work them up to higher levels. Say you’re using the Tabata protocol, count the number of repetitions, or meters, or watts that your clients or students can do at a moderate challenge level. If there are no repercussions from that bout(s), the next training day you can have them do a few more or go a little farther. Continue gradually increasing until they are truly going at a high intensity level. SHIIT will help new people get used to doing something a little harder than they have been, not to mention giving them time to nail the form of the activity.

The point is that HIIT, like other fitness guidelines, is something that can be a goal for clients, but shouldn’t be where we start them. We need to meet them where they are and gradually bring them along until fitness becomes part of their lives.

So, are you ready to do some SHIIT? (snort!)

Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2020

ACSM recently published the results of the “Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2020” and I thought that I would weigh in on the trends that were reported. Let’s start with some food for thought about the respondents. If you read the demographic information about the people that took the survey, only 50% report being in the fitness industry. Others include doctors, nurses, students, etc. so, people that may not really have their finger on the pulse of fitness trends. Another interesting bit is that when asked where they work, almost 50% chose Private Practice/Own Business and Hospital/Medical Center Program/Department. Granted “Own Business” might be fitness professionals, but it’s not clear. Again, questionable as to their real knowledge of current trends. My point is to take it with a grain of salt, the results provide some interesting topics for discussion, but maybe not what is really going to be happening in 2020. Also, one more item of clarification, they survey defined “trend” as “a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving” (http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/). So, is there an upward shift in popularity to make the item a trend?

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So, here’s the top 20 list. Let’s discuss.

1. Wearable technology. Wearable technology is getting to be pretty amazing. We’ve entered into the science fiction area (well it IS 2020). From the standard heart rate, activity, and distances traveled, to sleep, lactate levels, analyzing your running technique, and correcting your posture, wearables are offering more and more information to the consumer. The questions are, however, who is actually using them and how long do they use them? IMHO, (In My Humble Opinion, just in case you didn’t know the acronym) I think the people that like to track and chart their information will be in heaven (a minority in my experience). The rest my buy it for the cool factor, but won’t really make any changes because of it. For an interesting read, check out Fitt Insider’s article on wearables.

2. High-intensity interval training (HIIT). Yes, this is a trend with a cautionary tale. HIIT offers the same or even greater results (depending on your goal) in less time. Of course that’s attractive to people. The cautionary tale is that injuries are more likely to occur with HIIT than slower, less intense programs. Please remember that you can start people out SHIIT first (LOL, it only hit me as I was writing it…SHIIT! I’ll have to do a presentation on this, “From HIIT to SHIIT”.) Anyway… Slightly Higher Intensity Interval Training. You can start teaching people what intervals are all about and have them begin them utilizing an only slightly greater speed than is normal for them. Let them get acclimated as to what higher intensity is all about and gradually work them up to higher levels.

3. Group training. Yes, defined as more than 5 people for the survey (and this includes fitness classes) with greater camaraderie and a more affordable than one-on-one training, group training will continue to grow as a trend.

4. Training with free weights. Hmmn? Trend or just what we do and have almost always done? Well, we veered away and worshipped machine based training for quite a while, but, with the rediscovery of “functional” training, the industry got back to free weights and it’s unlikely they will ever leave again.

5. Personal training. In spite of some small group advocates claiming one-on-one training is dead, it will, in fact, never leave. The service with the greatest amount of personal attention has ongoing value.

6. Exercise is Medicine®. Exercise is Medicine® (EIM). Yes, with the state of health care, there needs to be and is gradually getting to be a greater focus on prehabilitation, post-rehab conditioning, and conditioning for those individuals with known disease. Yea! It’s about time.

7. Body weight training. In the old days, this would have been called calisthenics. Is it a trend? I’d have to say yes. I think that people have a growing attraction to it because it can be very effective, you don’t need equipment, and it can be done anywhere (and therefore no gym membership needed).

8. Fitness programs for older adults. More and more people are living longer and are needing and wanting to stay active and independent. If you’re not currently training older adults, you should consider it. It is a rapidly growing market.

9. Health/wellness coaching. Coaching and the use of motivational interviewing as a means to get clients to take charge of their own health and wellness. It is, IMHO, a key to the future in getting non-movers started and help them stay committed to their program. I think it is trending, but maybe not as quickly as I’d like to see.

10. Employing certified fitness professionals. ??? Again… a trend? Should be the law. (But, not licensed. See # 15 Licensure for Fitness Professionals.)

11. Exercise for weight loss. This is a “duh”. When about half of the population is actively trying to lose weight, exercise and diet for weight loss will always be in the mix. Hard to say that it’s trending up, though.

12. Functional fitness training. Yes, we know that our ability to perform specific movements can be enhanced by utilizing movements that have a similar demand on your body and I think we’ll continue to see it grow. Hopefully, the industry will keep it to truly functional activities and not circus acts (unless the circus is what you need it for).

13. Outdoor activities. There are always people that enjoy the outdoors. Is walking, riding, and hiking a trend? I’m more likely to say that the obstacle course events, as an outdoor activity (not mentioned in the survey), is the trend. 

14. Yoga. Again, it’s been around forever and will continue to be. Along with the physical challenge, the mind/body/spirit aspect of it is attractive to many.

15. Licensure for fitness professionals. This is interesting because it’s not a trend, at least not in the US. Now, there is a call out for it, but mostly by the highly educated personal trainers that resent lesser qualified ones. I’ll debate this one all day. I am not for licensure. I don’t think it will solve the problem. We’ll still have trainers that will pass a test and will still be lousy trainers. With licensure will also come stricter regulations as to what we can and can’t do. Maybe we won’t be able to work with individuals with known disease or post-rehab or even talk about diet. Additionally, who is to say that a lesser qualified trainer just calls him/herself a “fitness facilitator” and continue working doing the same work they did as a trainer. Too many questions, too many issues, this is not going to happen in the near future. – IMHO

16. Lifestyle medicine. Loosely defined as helping people change lifestyle behaviors that effect their health, i.e. “eliminating tobacco use, improving diet, increasing physical activity, and moderating alcohol consumption”. Like coaching, there could be a greater push here to help it become more of a trend.

17. Circuit training. I think this is a trend, but really only because many HIIT programs utilize circuit training. I don’t see the non-HIIT circuit training increasing. Let’s face it, most weight machine lines are set up as circuits. Weight machines circuits have been around since Universal Gym’s multi-station piece first appeared in 1957.

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18. Worksite health promotion and workplace well-being programs. Another slowly trending item on the list. I think it’s slow for two reasons. One, the return on investment (ROI) isn’t easily measured (and that means that companies are reluctant to spend money on it). Two, most American companies are focused on the quarterly or annual reports and fail to see the big picture of how these programs can help their company with reduced sick time, greater productivity, greater job satisfaction, and employee retention. Come on people. Pick it up!

19. Outcome measurements. Outcome measures have always been important. 20+ years ago, when I got my first certification from ACSM, we were tested on health and fitness assessments. Is it becoming more prevalent? Yes, I think so, but mostly because new technology makes taking measurements easier.

20. Children and exercise. I don’t see this trending up. I think that, like some other entrees here, there is a need and a hope that it will, but I don’t see the changes happening. IMHO, not a trend.

Missing from the list, ones that I believe really are trending, are Online Training and Streaming Group Fitness. Both of these are growing because of the technology available and the ease of being able to train anywhere, any time, and with a lower price tag.

So, check out the survey for yourself, Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2020, reread my thoughts and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your take on it all.

Saving the New Year’s Resolutioners From Themselves

Everyone knows and expects the first of January to bring a crowd of new people that have made new year resolutions find their way to your facility. According to research, only about 8% of those making resolutions, keep them.

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My personal belief is that people make big, general resolutions without and real plan. “I’m going to eat healthy!” What does eating healthy even mean? Where do they start? “I’m going to join a gym!” To do what? Weights? Cardio? Yoga? These generalities make it difficult, if not impossible, to succeed. People come in, they flounder, they fail, they quit.  How can we keep these new members and clients, help them reach their goals and sustain them?

My suggestion (and I know many of you know this), is to catch them early and get them started right. Every new member should receive a complimentary consultation, or strategy session, or whatever you’d like to call it. We need a chance to listen to what they hope to accomplish, help them clarify their goals and set priorities, discover strategies to overcome past obstacles, and help them decide on the best first step.

I know. I hear the naysayers in the back (sometimes in the front) say that we should be charging for this, that it is a service of value. You’re not wrong. It is a service of value, BUT… a fee is a barrier to taking advantage of it. If half of the new members or clients don’t take part because they think they can go it alone and don’t need to pay for the guidance, we are losing out on their potential long-term business, not to mention condemning them to probable failure (remember, only 8% stick with their resolutions). Nobody wins. Whereas, offering a complimentary consultation is likely to get them in our office to have that discussion. It helps put them onto the path to success and buys us the trust and loyalty that we hope to have with all of our members and clients.

So, don’t let them slip in unnoticed or uncared for. Offer all of those resolutioners an opportunity to find the success they are looking for. Make time to sit down with them and help them discover the next, best step in their journey to better health.

Have a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year!

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales?

I was recently asked by another fitness professional what kinds of discounts I was going offer for Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday. My answer was, “None.” I’ve always held the belief that I would never discount our personal training or group fitness programs. Discounting has been a debated issue in the industry for a long time and, while many facilities do offer sales and discounts, I stick to the belief that you don’t discount health services. You also don’t want people putting off starting until you have a sale (let’s face it, we all do that for certain products.)Untitled design (60)Now that isn’t to say that I don’t promote during these sales times. In fact, while people are in the shopping frenzy, it’s the perfect time to remind them that they can give the gift that can change people’s lives. Create a marketing campaign to promote/highlight a specific program for beginners, or for skiers, or for the new year. Make the program the attraction, not the discount.

While hitting sales is on people’s minds, so is getting the right present for those they love and that takes priority over whether something is on sale or not. So, promote the gift, the program, and don’t get sucked into thinking you need to discount.

 

Never Underestimate a Fun Workout

Most personal trainers that I know are very serious about creating training programs for their clients. That’s great! It’s important that the programs give clients the results they are looking for. That said, people also like to have fun and love to laugh. Whenever you can create some fun, you will engage your clients more and keeps them wanting to come back. Let’s face it, if you had your choice of a good workout or a good workout that was also fun, which would you choose? It can be a great differentiator between you and your competition.

Untitled design (57)If you can work the fun into the workout itself, that would be best. Maybe you can create a game-based workout (i.e. hopscotch can be a fun plyometric and balance challenge). Now work is work and exercises aren’t always fun in and of themselves. So, maybe the fun comes in the form of requiring that your client dances from exercise to exercise or perhaps teach them to floss between sets or simply joking with your client. 

Of course you have to choose things that you and your clients feel comfortable with, but the important note is to add fun where you can. Leaving your clients in a better mood than when they came in creates one more layer of client loyalty, not to mention that when they leave happier, so do you.

 

Remember QR Codes?

A QR code (Quick Response code), like a bar code, is a unique design that represents a particular item (could be a webpage, a specific landing page, video, etc.) Once scanned, it takes you directly to see more information about that particular item, no roundabout path of going to the website, then dropdown menu… directly to where you wanted to go (hence quick response). Great, right? Well, back when smartphones first came on the scene, the only way to scan these was by using a QR code reader. This was an app that you would have to locate on your phone, wait for it to open, then scan. These extra steps took that much more time, made the QR code that much less quick and the QR code lost much of its momentum. At this point I pretty much wrote it off as a failed experiment and didn’t really pursue it for my business any further… until now.

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This is a simple QR code. They can now include your logo and custom colors.

I was at a conference last week and paid attention to all of the QR codes that I saw being used and scanned (including on our registration badges). What seems to have really changed is that we no longer need an app to read the codes. In 2017, Apple changed their operating system so now, if you just train your smartphone camera on the code, it will recognize it and ask if you want to go to the link. Boom! You’re there! We’re back to a really quick response. In fact, in some countries, your individual QR code is like Apple Pay, you can pay for your products with a scan.

So, it’s time to take another look at how we can use QR codes because, quick response to customer interest is a very big deal for our business.

For more QR code information, check out “Why 2019 is the year of QR codes

To find out about where to generate your QR codes, click here.

Keep Learning to Grow

I’m often amazed at how many individuals sit back on whatever knowledge base they have and don’t actively seek opportunities for growth. Maybe they feel that they are doing fine and are perfectly happy just cruising along.

As for me, I can’t imagine not knowing more, not improving my ability to help others, or even change the world (Hey, you never know. It could happen.). While that is true, I also just love to learn.

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OK, not this kind of growing… You know what I mean.

Every industry has live conferences and workshops that you can attend. These are great opportunities to learn from session content and from other attendees. I present at 3-5 conferences per year and, if truth be told, I like doing it so I can get to see other presenters and learn from them. These days there are any number of conferences and courses that can be attended online. They are perfect for people that can’t take the time to go to a live one. Often times they can be viewed at your leisure.

Of course, there’s reading.  So far, I’ve read 26 books this year (a combination of audio books and hard copy). 8 of those were novels (because who doesn’t need a little escapism?), but the remaining 18 were non-fiction topics to increase my knowledge in business, build skills to enhance my ability to help my clients, and learn about creativity (just because it fascinates me). You can also check out industry journals and magazines for educational or inspirational material.

Lifetime learning is so important for being able to grow in your business and your life. Don’t sit back and miss out on something that can be so transformative.

Learn and Grow.