Ah, summer. There is nothing nicer than the long days of summer where we not only have more daylight hours to fill, but the pace is a little slower and everyone smiles more. Our members are out walking, running, biking and hiking, going to cottages or away on vacation to far off destinations. Finally!
Historically, summer is a “dead zone” – our members are often losing steam with their new year’s goals, and many have vacation and travel plans. How often have you heard, “I’m not going to be here for most of July” and starts the request to put a membership on hold for a few months? But, these are different times: we all need to think outside the box on how we can not only keep our members engaged, improve their physical and mental health, and attract new clients. We need to make the Dead Zone the READY ZONE.
Get your members READY to take their health, fitness, and wellness to new levels with these five ideas.
1.FOCUS ON COMMUNITY
We are all craving human connection and I guarantee you that your members want to be seen, heard, and appreciated. They want to know that you see all their hard effort – and many of them want to connect not only with you, but with like-minded people! Consider hosting weekly gatherings, special classes, and an “accountability challenge” where you can partner up your members so they stay accountable to each other this summer! Reward summertime visits where members are given incentives for hitting 10, 20 or 50 workouts – water bottles, T-shirts and even a free personal training or stretch session can go a long way towards making your members feel loved and connected to their community. You can create special bonds and guarantee not only that they want to stay part of your community – but they bring a friend, too.
2. RETHINK YOUR MARKETING
Let’s stop using shaming language or talking about “summer bodies” shall we? You have a ripe opportunity in front of you: more than half of Canadians have been entirely inactive in the last two years, some of them might have been inactive or sedentary even longer. We want to make our spaces inclusive and welcoming for ALL bodies and ALL fitness levels. We have to hold ourselves accountable and think about the members we haven’t signed yet, and the benefits that they will reap from joining your facility. Everyone wants to belong. Think about offering a “new members” Open House weekly where you give tours of the gym and take the intimidation factor out. If you have someone new on board, give them guest passes to invite their friends and family – while they are reaping the benefits of starting a fitness program again!
3. ENCOURAGE GIVING BACK
Did you know that fewer Canadians are donating to charity and those who are giving back financially are donating less. These were the findings of the Fraser Institute’s annual study of Canadians’ donating habits this past year. It’s not surprising, with rising fuel and food costs, many of us have tightened our purse strings. But, again, think outside the box. A dynamic sales manager at Club 16 Trevor Linden Fitness in Vancouver, B.C. found a way to repurpose old gym mats, donating them to homeless shelters and proving that we can do a lot with a little creativity. Why do we always host food drives at Christmas? Set up a big cardboard box in your reception and get your members to bring in non-perishable items for the food bank. How can your members be engaged with your brand through the act of giving? There are charity walks and runs all across Canada this summer and early fall. Pick an event, then organize special training around the event.
4. EMBRACE THE FUTURE OF FITNESS
For those of us whose business is brick and mortar, we do not want to keep hearing “the future of fitness is hybrid”, but all trends point that way. This doesn’t mean you have to lose your members – and summer is the perfect time to keep them digitally connected to you when they are away from the gym. If you offer virtual classes (or have recorded ones from the last two years) put together a package where their membership includes online too, and invite them to bring you on holiday! And, don’t simply think about classes – put together a weekly newsletter with a call to action (e.g., checking your Instagram for workout ideas, trying a new recipe) to keep them engaged with you!
5. STAY COOL AND HAVE FUN
Many of our members do not want to exercise outdoors when it is too hot – and they definitely will not want to exercise indoors with you if your cooling systems aren’t up to speed! No one wants the air conditioning to go down in the middle of summer, so make sure you have had your systems checked out in advance! And make the summer FUN: can you offer classes outside? What about retro dance parties? Can you partner with a food and beverage company to provide their product one day? Celebrate the long days of summer by offering classes at different times, too! Think about organizing “outings” – your members might jump at the chance to go on a hike or a walk, or even to the local pool! Remember, they joined your gym because they want to be part of something. Make that something special.
One of the biggest tips I can give you is: Be Remarkable this summer. Do something exciting, engaging, and different that will have your members and everyone in the community talking about you!