Engage those Summer Joins…And Keep them for the Fall Too!

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Try these targeted tips!

Now is the perfect time to think about how you can retain as many summer members as possible. These members are likely joining for camps and the pool but if you can get the entire family engaged with healthy activities at your association, then you have a good chance of keeping them from falling off once school starts. See our 6 handy tips below to engage and retain summer members into the fall season.

Download this helpful tip list by clicking here.

Nonprofit Spotlight: Lakeshore Foundation

By | Engagement, Facilities, Fitness, Industry, Mission Delivery | No Comments

Walk around Lakeshore’s campus, and you will see it is not a typical fitness center. This premier facility is a “third place” for wellness center members, elite athletes, and youth and adults with physical disabilities.

Visitors might see wheel-chair rugby (Murderball) practice in the main gym, a senior water aerobics class in the pool, or an ex-military amputee tackling the climbing wall.

This mixture of young and old, athletic and “average Joe” inspired the Daxko team to dig deeper. What is the secret sauce of Lakeshore’s success? What is it like managing a fitness/training center for a special needs base? Jen Remick, Membership Director, shared her experience with me over lunch:

ANNE: Your facility is simply gorgeous! What was your design inspiration? How does serving a group with unique needs factor into design?

JEN: Our philosophy with design is the same as our service philosophy, “Be welcome. Be accessible.” We had to think about all the different people interacting with us: athletes, families, kids, seniors. In essence we have to design “smart” for those with disabilities. For example, we incorporated color contrast into the carpets for the weight training areas. This helps members with sight limitations know which area is which. We try to walk around the facility from different perspectives and look for opportunities to make it friendlier.

ANNE: What kinds of different perspectives?

JEN: Someone recovering from an injury may have a hard time walking from one area to another. We think about what we could do to help that person be more independent and supported, such as placing handrails along the walls. But, at the end of the day, everyone wants to be in a warm, open and clean space to exercise, so those design elements are also important!

ANNE: Your members love you, your staff loves working there, and everyone attending events loves the experience. What is in your secret sauce?

JEN: First, our commitment to our mission. It is our capstone; where we go if we are not what a decision should be. I am always asking, “How does that relate to our mission statement?” Our staff has a genuine connection with our mission statement, and I believe our members do too! Another (ingredient) is listening to members. That simple. Just listen and follow up consistently.

ANNE: How do you manage follow-up, especially across all those members?

JEN: Our process is always changing, but now we do a few things. We have a weekly staff meeting where we divide up all the member/participant comments and follow up with them immediately. It is so important members feel their comments matter. We also partner with you guys to get monthly surveys so we can keep a pulse on our base.

ANNE: Any other ingredients in your secret sauce?

JEN: Our Board and President believe our staff is a true asset. I am able to invest in staff development and hire great people. One thing I encourage is for staff to get “mobile.” They need to walk around, talk to people, and get to know members on a personal level. Plus, our center is huge and we need to make sure everything is okay at all times.

ANNE: What kind of training is important for your staff?

JEN: They need to be bought into our core values: Create Opportunities, Raise Expectations, Passion, and Integrity.

ANNE: Can you give an example of staff using core values to create a “wow” experience?

JEN: Every day! My staff is so awesome. And these experiences are all over the place, such as one of our girls in our wheel-chair basketball program. She has a whole network of friends now and is competing in a team sport. We also had a gentleman that volunteered for us, and he could not believe the positive feedback he received. He was so emotional because he was able to make an impact.

ANNE: How does raising expectations factor into a center that serves both athletes and people with disabilities?

JEN: People are people. They don’t like to exercise, or they will get comfortable doing the same old thing. Staff should encourage members to PUSH THEMSELVES and try something new. Exposure to different programs and routines is important for everyone we serve. For example, the other day I saw a member bring a friend to walk on the track. Now, I am happy she is using the track, but I encouraged her to also get outside and try a walking event with her whole family.

The Lakeshore Foundation is a 501©3 non-profit organization dependent on the support of individuals and corporations in the community. It is located on a 45-acre campus in Homewood, AL, and is an official U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training site. 

Bridging the Patient to Member Gap

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One widespread challenge of the medical fitness center industry is converting patients to members through a systematic, engaging process.

Most patients complete a rehab program, thank the physician or therapist, and then, if encouraged, join the wellness center as a full-time member. Easy enough, right? But a large number of those patients are falling between the cracks, even though the transition to membership seems natural.

Patients have a clear path, peppered with specific milestones over a given period of time. Members, however, may have less defined goals over an indefinite period of time. Being a member seems much less regimented and does not offer a clear objective. Pile that on top of other barriers: lack of confidence, fear of not knowing anybody, lack of accountability, lack of motivation.

The staff at St. Mary’s Wellness Center in Georgia, for example, has almost a fail-proof plan for closing the patient to member gap. During the final rehab sessions, their physical therapists introduce patients to the other side of the wellness center (where members exercise and hang out.) Their health professionals make sure patients are comfortable using the machines and even introduce them to the wellness staff.

This may not seem like much, but imagine for several weeks you used the same machines and knew your settings by heart (in the rehab area), and now you have to use different equipment without your physical therapist.

Enter the personal trainers! The St. Mary’s staff ensures that patients have an opportunity to meet with a personal trainer before they are cut loose form the rehab program.Patients are more motivated to join as a member because they experienced a personal hand-off from one reliable expert to another.

Having a deliberate, personal transition plan has paid off for successful medical fitness centers. Deliberate means defining a clear process and making sure all health professionals are held accountable. Personal means patients do not feel abandoned post-rehab, and feel they made a connection with someone on the wellness end. It is very simple, and very effective.

Flash Mob Meets Group Exercise

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There are all kinds of ways to think outside the walls of your facility, but this one has intrigued me for a while now. A few summers back I was in downtown Seattle when a group of about 50 people came running down the street singing “Dancing in the Rain.” I had to know what was happening so I flagged down a straggler and asked. I found out they were part of a fitness/social group that meets in different places and just does active things. Things like running hills, climbing stairs, and dancing in the rain—think flash mob meets group fitness. After they do their workouts, they disperse to a bar or coffee shop to hang out. Very cool!

Last week in New York City I saw a similar thing happening right outside Central Park in the middle of a workday. A group of people just descended on the plaza and started working it. While there were lots of young adults, there were all ages, fitness levels and body types represented.

Apparently, the schedule is set but the location and activities are communicated last minute by Twitter, text, or email. You can pay by the month or just show up and pay by the event. I love this! What a great way to get people moving and to facilitate those all-important relationships we want our members to build with each other.

Lori Swann is director of marketing and membership for Daxko T2 Consulting.