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Top tips for preparing for a marathon or mud run: help and advice to give to your gym members

Training and preparing for a marathon, mud run or other endurance race can be tricky for a person to do on their own. This is especially true if they’re running their first race, and will be the case no matter how often they run in their spare time, or how fit they might think they are before they start training!

 

As a gym owner, you’ll know that preparing for a marathon or endurance race isn’t as easy as throwing on some trainers and running more often. Not only do people need to ensure that they approach their training at an appropriate pace, but they’ll need to be aware of how often to take rest breaks. it’s also vital that they’re using the right running clothing and training equipment.

 

Because of the care and dedication required to train for such an event, you should encourage any gym members planning to complete an endurance race to enlist the help of a fitness instructor or personal trainer. They’ll be able to provide a proper training programme that incorporates a good mix of cardio and strength training, as well as help them to set realistic goals to keep them motivated.

 

Here’s our top tips for helping gym members prepare for marathons, mud runs and endurance races…

 

No injuries!

 

It’s so important that your gym members know how to pace themselves when training for a marathon. It’s very easy to forget the immense strain an endurance race can put on your body, and if the trainee does too much too quickly, then they’ll run the risk of causing strains, fractures, shin splints, and other unnecessary injuries. These will not only be painful, but they’ll hinder them from reaching their goals.

 

If someone is preparing for their first race, then they may not know that it typically takes between 12 to 20 weeks to be ready to complete a marathon, mud run, or other endurance race. This is something that your gym members should be made aware of as soon as possible; remember, running a marathon requires the person to be mentally motivated, as well as physically fit!

 

Schedule rest and recovery days into their marathon training programme, and remember to reiterate the importance of not running every day. If they’re going to be running between 3-4 days a week, then they should have at least 1 rest day and 1 recovery day. You should also clarify the difference between recovery days (where no exercise is completed) and rest days (where they can walk, swim or complete strength or flexibility training). Put simply, the most important message you can give your trainees is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint!

 

Tim Dettmann from Kieser agrees with the importance of rest days. He says: “What are the myths when it comes to training for a marathon? The biggest myth is that you have to train every day. Most of us don’t complete the recovery required to be able to train every day as they have jobs to work or families to look after.”

 

Chris Hall, founder of Hall Personal Training, also adds that one of the best ways to motivate gym members is by keeping them focused on the end goal. He says: “I think knowing there’s an end goal is the best motivator as the pain, wet early mornings, late evenings and effort they’re putting in now won’t be reflective of how each day is going be after this. They need to remember; it’s not forever!

 

“Once you cross that finish line at the 26 mile mark, the euphoria will make that last 6 months or so seem like a walk in the park and all worth it, I can guarantee it. Remember what you’re working for. ”

 

Provide a varied training programme

 

One of the first things your trainee will need to be aware of is that training should be approached at a slow and steady pace; this will help them to avoid injury and build a better level of endurance. As an example, in the first few weeks you should aim to achieve your base mileage; this involves running at a relaxed pace, and should be increased by no more than 10% each week. (source)

 

After they’ve started to establish their base mileage, you should then advise your trainees to build up to a longer run, which could be completed every 7-10 weeks. As their body builds endurance and they can comfortably run a longer difference, you can then help them to move on to increasing their speed.

 

Throughout the entire process, you’ll also need to ensure that their training programme consists of a mix of stretching, walking, running, and strength training. Swimming and other physical activities can also be incorporated on rest days.

Although running will be the main aspect of their marathon training programme, regular stretching and strength training is essential for reducing muscle strain. As walking breaks will also ease fatigue and build endurance, advise that these are taken every 2-8 minutes during a long run.

 

Chris Hall, founder of Hall Personal Training, advises: “interval training or ‘fartlek’ training is also a good alternative exercise to running when training, as these have been shown to improve one’s fitness and cardio vascular output to the same degree as steady state running (but in half the time). They are usually best performed on a piece of gym cardio kit, as you can monitor and adjust variables, such as level of resistance, power output (watts), speed, and time splits. However, the bike and the rower would be the best types of cardio kit to use for these types of training IF running wasn’t an option.”

 

Oli Russell-Cowan from Rad Season adds: “Full body strength building exercises are great for getting your body to the point where you can pull yourself up over the obstacles you’ll face in mud runs/obstacle course races.”

 

Devise an appropriate eating plan

 

If your gym members are training for a marathon, then you should be advising them on the best foods to be consuming both before and during the race, as well as after it’s been completed. They’ll probably already know that they need to be consuming foods that provide fuel and aid in muscle repair, though you’ll need to devise a plan to ensure they get the most out of their diet.

 

Make sure they start introducing low GI carbohydrates to their diet (such as porridge, and wholegrain wheat and pasta) early on; this will build up their carbohydrate tank. However, you need to encourage them to eat the highest amount of carbs in the final week before they complete their marathon, mud run or other endurance race.

 

It would also be beneficial to inform them of the difference between low GI carbohydrates, and high GI carbs, so that they know when each type should be consumed during each stage of their marathon training. A good example to use is the fact that foods high in GI carbs, moderate in protein, and low in fat should be eaten before long runs, while foods high in GI carbohydrates (such as bananas, oranges, dried fruit, or isotonic drinks) are best consumed during long runs.

 

As Enduraprep advises in their blog on Ironman race day nutrition: “The GI (Glycemic Index) is a scale which relates to the speed at which the glycogen from carbohydrates enters the bloodstream. 100 being glucose, the simplest sugar which can actually enter the bloodstream through the stomach wall and not have to enter the intestines.” So, remember to explain that high GI carbs release energy quicker than lower GI options!

 

Remember that everyone is an individual!

 

Finally, it can be hard enough for people to motivate themselves to go to the gym a few times a week, let alone commit to a full-time marathon training programme that needs to be stuck to for at least 12-20 weeks! Therefore, no matter how much your gym members want to finish the marathon in a good time, it can still be a struggle to ensure they prise themselves out of bed at 6am for a training session.

 

Sure, you can encourage them to work hard when they’re actually completing a training session, but they’ll still need to be able to motivate themselves to attend them first thing in the morning, or straight after a hard day at work when all they want to go is curl up on the sofa with a glass of wine.

 

Annie Crawford, Founder and Chair of the Can Too Foundation, says: “The single most important thing for me is to get rid of the negative voices in my head. If you say it sucks, it will suck! Turn those negative voices off, replace with a strong, positive voice. “I am alright now, I am strong, I am lucky. I am fit, I am healthy. This too will pass.” These are things I say to myself.”

 

As well as offering as much encouragement as possible, one of the best ways to help your trainees stay motivated is by charting their progress from day one. Assess their basis fitness level before training, and set a series of small achievable goals; some of these can have physical rewards, but most people will get more driven the more milestones they reach (and find their training programme gets easier too)!

 

However, the most important thing to remember is that everyone approaches tasks differently; what might motivate one person to complete a workout each day, might not be enough for another. When taking this account, you’ll need to adjust your coaching style to suit each individual person’s needs, as some may need more encouragement than others. In fact, a number of studies have been completed on the best management styles to suit each learning style.


Handing the customer lifecycle: how to reduce cancellations and retain your gym members

How to retain gym membership cancellations

There’s no way around it; building a great gym is hard. Not only does it have to be affordable and able to provide great results, but your facilities, classes, trainers, and the level of customer service you offer will all need to justify the cost for your members.

If these areas aren’t up to scratch? Your membership retention rate will suffer.

Although it’s still vital to attract as many new members to your gym as possible, your retention rate is the area that you should be focussing on first and foremost. After all, it’s much cheaper to retain your current customers than to win new ones! This is because happy customers will enable you to build a positive reputation, and they can often bring in membership referrals.

Therefore, keeping your current gym members satisfied will bring in new business without needing to invest too much of your time and budget.

Here’s how to effectively handle the customer lifecycle to retain your gym’s membership numbers…

Your new gym membership: bright beginnings

 

When people first start going to the gym, they tend to be very positive and motivated, and this is often because they’ll have a clear goal in mind. Whether this be to shift some extra Christmas weight, or to simply get fit in time for the summer months, they know what they want to achieve, and will be ready and raring to go as soon as they’ve signed that dotted line on their contract!

However, how long will they be able to keep themselves motivated? It’s a well-known fact that January is the most popular month for people to start going to the gym, and although many members will keep up the habit, a large number will give up on their resolution to adopt a healthier, more active lifestyle by around June. (source: Telegraph)

As a gym owner, you need to have a plan in place to reduce the likelihood of your customers suddenly cancelling their membership, as well as knowing what steps you can take to reattract ex-members. It’s also important to know why members are cancelling their contracts; that way, you can improve your services before the thought of leaving even crosses the mind of your other customers.

To decrease the likelihood of this happening, you should focus on giving your members the motivation to keep visiting their gym. As well as giving them the option to work with your personal trainers to set a specific achievable goal (such as gaining muscle or losing weight), you should remember that working out with other people increases motivation.

Take advantage of this by offering free sessions with your gym’s professional trainers, or encouraging members to bring their friends along to workouts and classes. One way you could do this is by offering a week of free membership to these referred friends.

How to appropriately deal with gym membership cancellations

 

If one of your members is planning to cancel their contract, there’s a number of steps you should take to either extend their membership, leave the option open for them to re-join your gym in the future, or simply ensure that they leave on the best terms possible.

The first step you should take is to ask why they’re cancelling their membership in the first place. This not only provides you with an opportunity to gather feedback and improve processes for other existing and future members of your gym, but you may also be able to offer the customer an incentive to stay before they make the final decision to leave.

For example, if they feel that their membership is too expensive, you could give them a small discount for a short period of time, or even let them try out a new class for free. This will give you some time to prove the true worth of their membership, as well as showcase everything your gym has to offer in terms of its services and facilities.

Alternatively, you can provide the option for the person to have a suspended membership. Put simply, this means that they will be able to put their existing membership on-hold, and simply resume it when they feel ready to start attending the gym again. During this period, you can then send incentives, such as offers and event invitations, to reignite their interest. This can be either through direct mail, emails, or even a membership newsletter.

Another option is to be somewhat flexible with your contracts, and allow another person to take over someone’s existing membership until it runs out. That way, your gym won’t lose out on a sale, and the person taking over the contract may even sign-up for their own membership when their existing one has finished.

Although a person cancelling their membership won’t be the most pleasant experience for either party involved, the most important thing to remember during this stage of the customer lifecycle is to keep things as positive and professional as possible. Your club’s reputation will be on the line, and a negative experience of cancelling could lead to a bad review (either shared online or through word of mouth), which may potentially cost you business.

Because of this, your staff will need to be polite, helpful and understanding, and happily take any given feedback on board.

Take steps to prevent your members from wanting to cancel

 

Although there are things you can do to convince members to think twice before cancelling their gym membership, you should ensure you’ve taken the necessarily steps to stop them from wanting to jump ship in the first place.

How can you achieve this? Firstly, you should ensure that your staff offer the highest level of customer service by coming across as approachable, and always being happy to help. Additionally, they should be knowledgeable about the range of classes available in your gym, thus being able to offer members tailored advice and guidance if needed.

Communication is also important, so you need to ensure your members are completely clear on what they’re receiving as part of their membership. This will prevent any misunderstandings from occurring further down the line, which may be the justification a person needs to cancel their membership with your gym. As well as providing them with a full contract when they join, you should provide them with additional documentation that explains the classes and the other services you offer.

Some of the main reasons people stop going to the gym is because they either get bored or no longer feel as though they are able to realistically reach their fitness goals. You can counteract this by offering a selection of classes to suit all fitness levels, as well as allowing members to engage with your personal trainers to set a personalised training programme and achievable, tailored goals.

Finally, another great tip for retaining your existing gym members (and attracting new ones) is to offer a ‘refer a friend’ service. You can easily achieve this by offering a range of incentives, such as discounts on their gym membership, access to free classes, or even cash prizes, to encourage members to spread the word.

Plus, if a member’s friend joins the same gym as them, they’ll be more likely to attend and retain their membership with your club!

How to reattract ex-members of your gym

 

As with members who have a suspended contract with your gym, you should keep in frequent contact with those that have fully cancelled their membership. Send seasonal offers and promotions, as well as invitations to exclusive events, to keep your gym firmly in their mind, and increase the likelihood of winning back their custom in the future.

To use this method to its full advantage, keep your offers seasonal based. For example, promote them in the lead up to the summer months when people typically want to lose weight for their holidays, or at the start of the year when many people’s New Year’s Resolution will be to lose weight or simply get fit.

You should also promote any new classes you begin to offer in your gym (possibly providing them with the opportunity to try a taster class out for free), and even ask them to bring along a friend- after all, they may also be inspired to sign-up themselves!


The future of the fitness industry is specialist: why your gym’s fitness instructors need more than just the standard qualifications.

The future of the fitness industry is specialist: why your gym’s fitness instructors need more than just the standard qualifications

With the number of UK fitness members exceeding 9 million for the first time last year, as well as there being a 5.3% rise in total memberships, and the total market value for the industry being estimated at around £4.4 billion (source: 2016 State of the UK Fitness Industry report), it should come as no surprise that the fitness industry has become more demanding than ever.

Attracting and keeping fitness enthusiasts can be hard work in what is a very competitive market, but for those that do it right, there’s some big money at stake!

Put simply, the new wave of gym bunnies is no longer happy with a few running machines and a bench press; they want exciting workouts which are focused on new skills, team work, martial arts, or dance.

Some of these workouts are branded, like CrossFit or Zumba; others have developed from trends, such as Spinning, HIIT, Circuit Training and Boxercise (to name just a few). But despite their differences, one thing remains constant; gymgoers now expect a range of classes taught at the highest standard, and this brings with it the need for your instructors to be qualified in their chosen specialisms.

So, why has the trend for more variation and more specialist workouts developed so rapidly? It’s clear that Instagram and other popular social media networks have been a key driver, and this is due to the increase in fitness influencers using these platforms to share their tips and progress.

As a result, the knowledge of your typical gymgoer is a lot higher than it used to be, and your trainers’ qualifications really need to reflect this.

Tommy Wilkes, a Senior Trainer at Matt Roberts London, says: “There is an increasing prevalence of individuals exercising with specific requirements. These may vary from structural or mechanical issues, to pregnancy or medical requirements. We have seen a growth in the appreciation within society of the benefits that exercise can deliver to these specific needs.”

“With more access to information through online platforms, clients are aware that they should be doing particular training and not ‘cookie cut’ workouts. This creates opportunities in the industry for anyone with a unique specialisation who can offer a personalised approach tailored to each individual and their needs.”

Amanda Sterczyk of Amanda Sterczyk Fitness, feels that life experience as just as important as qualifications when it comes to offering a personalised service to your gym members. She says “I’m a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, though this is my third career. I have many class participants and private clients who tell me they appreciate that I understand what it’s like to be injured. As I’m also nearing 50 years old, they also like that I’m older and can adjust the class or workout based on how individuals are responding.

“In my opinion, this has to do with life experience. Younger instructors are just as qualified from a technical perspective, but they may not take the time to explain modifications or have the in-depth knowledge to adjust a class based on people’s pre-existing conditions, muscular imbalances, or injuries. How you work out at 20 is different than how you work out at 50 or 70 years of age.”

Josh Douglas-Walton, Content Marketing Executive at HFE, adds: “With regards to key areas that PTs can specialise in, serving special populations is really top of the list. So those with disabilities, pre and postnatal women, and older adults are three groups that all could be better served by the fitness industry as a whole. It’s something we focus on with our qualifications, empowering PTs to work with a wider client base and really help those who need it. Every week there are studies published extolling the virtues and health benefits of exercise so it makes sense that trainers, who are often see as experts in their field, should be at the forefront of helping more people exercise.”

However, it’s also important to remember that certain trainers may require personal liability insurance when leading specialist classes, as well as being covered by your club’s basic insurance. Therefore, you should make sure you check this before widening your scope!

So, what do the qualification boards say when it comes to specialist fitness qualifications?

Paul Swainson, Head of Personal Training at Future Fit, says: “With more and more trainers to choose from, gym members can afford to be more selective with who they work with and will seek those that offer a solution to their specific goal backed by expert experience, knowledge and skills.”

“A key advantage it will offer PTs to be specialist trainers is that they will stand out to potential clients that are looking for a solution to a specific ‘problem’; for example, how to reduce body fat, run faster, or build muscle. They could specialise in a specific method of training, but it will be more effective to focus on a particular type of client with a specific goal.”

“So, qualifications such as Exercise Referral, Level 4 Low Back Pain, or Sports Conditioning will better prepare you to work with your target market.”

Michelle Bailey, Director and Internal Quality Assurer at Fit4Training, says: “In our opinion, ‘specialist qualifications’ should no longer be considered ‘specialist’. In today’s UK, it is the norm to work with people who have specific needs. So, gaining knowledge in those specific areas should be ‘a given’ for any PT serious about their occupation.”

“Having good knowledge about subjects ranging from specific medical conditions to mobility, through to learning about different exercise modalities, will help that trainer open up their audience, whilst simultaneously offering them the opportunity to create ‘niches’ within their locality.”

Clubbercise also offers more specialist training for their fitness instructors and personal trainers. Their founder, Claire Burlison Green, says: “Clubbercise essentially provides an ‘out-of-the-box’ solution for PTs and Fitness Instructors. They receive pre-choreographed dance fitness routines, tried and tested music playlists, and ongoing marketing support. They also have an experienced Mentor on call to help them build a successful Clubbercise business.”

“In 3 years since launching, we have trained over 2,000 instructors in the UK alone.”

Mark Moon, of Mark Moon Fitness, adds: “Great instructors and trainers need the full package if they want to last the test of time and survive in this industry for the long term. Having a qualification is one thing, however, the people skills, the personal passion for what you do, and the ability to empathize with your client base is what will keep your clients coming back.”

With that in mind, when it comes to having the edge on your competition, it will all come down to the wants and needs of your customers, and how you go about acknowledging them. For example, with a bad review easily being posted online (which can make or break your club’s reputation), your customer service really needs to be second to none!

This not only involves your trainers being qualified in their specialist disciplines, but realising that most gymgoers don’t want a great body for summer; they want a lifestyle change. Enter the need for variety in their workouts, as well as a personalised service. Basically, try to get to know your customers, and structure their workouts accordingly.

It’s also important to realise that with 9-5 working being the norm for many individuals, your opening hours need to cater to this need. When it comes to incorporating a healthier lifestyle change into an already hectic routine, you’re going to want to maximise what you get from your workouts. Therefore, your gym should offer as much flexibility as possible.

Not only that, but business owners need to justify their costs more than ever; this makes it even more vital that you provide a great service.

Nonetheless, as well as hiring the fitness trainers that have the best experience and qualifications for their area of expertise, it’s also important to get their names out there!

It’s not unheard of for people to choose gyms for their trainers, so ensuring yours have a good social media presence is a good first step. After all, social media profiles can act almost as an online CV that displays their results, and they can even use their accounts to promote your gym or sports club.

Social media also provides a great opportunity for your trainers to get their personalities across while interacting with both current and potential members of your gym. This increases their likability factor, which will give them the potential to bring in new members.

Matt Swierzynski, Personal Trainer at Matt Swaz Fitness, says: “Social media is a great tool for helping PTs and gyms to promote specialist training in many ways, including the use of YouTube videos, and Facebook Live to demonstrate exercises and correct techniques. For instance, on a YouTube video we could demonstrate exercises to help with correct postural rehabilitation.”

Don Bacchi, Owner and Director of Onfit Training College, also adds that passion is important, and this is something that can be conveyed by a Personal Trainer’s attitude in the gym, as well as what they post on social media. He says: “We’ve spoken with hundreds of employers within the fitness industry, and the number one thing they are always looking for is passion. I think it really comes down to the fact that passion shows in everything that a PT does, from their studies when they first get qualified, to their day-to-day client interaction, and then with their development as a trainer in the long term.

“Having that underlying care factor and drive means that a PT with passion isn’t just ticking boxes; they are striving for and doing their very best. It’s particularly important with word of mouth and client referrals being such an important aspect of a Personal Trainer’s business. When a PT is listening to their clients and giving them the attention and care they need in each and every session, that passion shows and is the key to having a successful career and business in the long run.”

So, whether you love social media or not, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon, as well as ensuring your fitness trainers have as many specialist qualifications as possible!

Useful resources

Want to find out more about specialist fitness qualifications? Check out the resources below:


How to use digital to attract more gym members

When it comes to promoting your gym, and attracting new members, it’s time to embrace the power of digital marketing. Just think about it; with more than 3.5 billion searches being made on Google per day worldwide, as well as the increase in fitness influencers using a variation of social media platforms to broadcast their work and progress, gymgoers are far more likely to research gyms through Google, or take recommendations from their Friends on Facebook.

24/7 Fitness is just one of the industry experts using digital to attract new members to their gyms. They said: “We’ve successfully used digital in both member attraction (through automated email campaigns, and social media direct marketing) and crucially, member retention. Uniquely, our virtual personal trainer app allows members to learn the specific equipment at their gym with virtual support from qualified trainers, and this has been particularly successful with first-time gym users, getting them through the all-important first three visits.”

Adrian Hunter, is the General Manager at KRUNK.com, a social networking app that connects fitness enthusiasts to enable them to locate new friends and join in group training classes. He says: “It’s hard to even get eye contact with someone these days as we’re always glued to our mobile devices. However, our KRUNK app connects active, like-minded people by location, activity, and interest, so it allows members to feel like they are already part of a Community.

“Personal Trainers and Fitness Instructors can promote their classes or one on one sessions through social media or by creating a KRUNK or macro community in our app. As KRUNK allows gym owners to create events and invite members and other non-gym members to join in these on these events, it’s a great way of increasing class participation and growing your business through digital.”

Crocodile Marketing provide Inbound Marketing Services for Brisbane and Gold Coast, as well as being a HubSpot Partner. HubSpot is an inbound marketing and sales platform that has helped the Australian Institute of Fitness experience a 9% increase in leads & $200,000 in revenue increase within the first 3 months of using it. David McMahon, Marketing Director at Crocodile Marketing, says: “Technology has changed traditional marketing, A Google study in 2014 showed that local searchers lead to 50% of mobile visitors to visit stores within one day, and we are seeing the trend still growing in Australia for local businesses.”

As this suggests, you’d be missing a trick by not utilising these platforms to your full advantage! To get you started, here are our top tips for using digital to attract more gym members…

Make sure your website is designed with the user in mind

Firstly, you need to ensure your website is easy to read and navigate, and that it’s been designed with the target audience you want to attract in mind. For example, you don’t want to have pictures of huge powerlifters if you’re trying to run an exercise class for over 60s!

When it comes to the navigation, make sure you have a clear menu and that each of the major services you offer has its own dedicated page. Individual gym classes (such as kettlebells and CrossFit), personal training, and sports massage are all different services, so they need their own pages to reflect this.

Additionally, if your gym or club only has one location, make sure each page mentions where you are, alongside the service you’re offering. So, if your gym provides ‘Personal Training in Cardiff’, it should be in the title of the page to help it rank higher when people search for this term in search engines.

For larger cities, you’ll also need to mention the specific area(s) you’re covering. For example, ‘Martial arts classes in Peckham’ would be better than using ‘Martial arts classes in London’.

When it comes to your contact page, we’d also advise installing the Google Maps Plug-in to show your potential clients exactly where you’re located. As Google is the most widely used map service, making sure you use it means you stand a good chance of showing up in the Google search results if someone does a location-based search.

To ensure your information is listed on Google, don’t forget to complete a Google My Business listing. Advice on how to do this can be found at Google My Business Help.

Ensure search engines can find your website

Once your website is looking the way you want it to, you’ll need to ensure that Google can understand it, and therefore rank each page correctly in the search results. This is a vital component of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), and means that for every page, you’ll need to make sure it has a Title Tag, Meta Description, and Header (or H1) Tag at the very least. If possible, you should also implement H2 Tags.

As the Title Tag and Meta Description (which are also collectively referred to as ‘Metadata’) are what will appear on the search engine results page, they need to accurately describe the page. Alternatively, Header Tags are used for a page’s heading and subheadings.

If you don’t have your own in-house marketing team to take care of this, we’d advise enlisting the help of a digital marketing agency who will be able to implement these things for you. If you’re completely unfamiliar with SEO and want to learn more, you can brush-up on some of the basic terminology with this digital marketing glossary.

As well as inputting these, you’ll want to ensure your website has a sitemap as this tells Google where everything on your website is.

If your website is currently without a sitemap, you can build one for free using the XML-Sitemaps tool. Once this is done, it will need to be uploaded to your website at yourgymsname.com/sitemap.xml.

For the next step, you will need to add the sitemap location to a file stored in yourgym.com/robots.txt. Don’t worry if this sounds complicated, as this is something that can be done by your web designer.

After your sitemap has been uploaded to your website, it will also need to be submitted to Google for indexing. Instructions on how to do this (as well as how to upload the sitemap to your website) can be found at WordPress tutorials.

Now your website should be findable by both Google and your clients!

Use social media platforms to attract new gym members

When it comes to advertising your club on social media, Facebook is a good place to start. Not only is it one of the most used platforms, with 59% of UK adults using Facebook daily in 2016, but it was also found to be the second most popular amongst 18-29 year olds behind YouTube (source).

As well as having a large database of users, we’d recommend using Facebook because of its expansive targeting options for paid ads. Because the average user provides so much information to the platform to complete their profile, you’ll be able to target prospective clients by location, age, gender, language, and their behaviour on the platform (such as the Pages they like, the ads they click, and what content they share on their Timelines).

However, one thing to bear in mind is that Facebook’s organic (a.k.a. non-paid) reach has dropped by 50% in the last year. means you’ll probably have to use paid ads to get good exposure on the platform.

If your gym is located in a smaller town, then you can do this really effectively by targeting an audience that likes some of the sports and fitness services you offer, as well as selecting the right age range and limiting the radius of your ad to just your area. But, if your gym is in a bigger city, such as London, then you’ll need to be more specific; but in places like London, even this can be too broad. We’d suggest investigating how to set up remarketing lists as people that have found your site are the most likely to engage.

“Instagram is also another a good option for promoting your gym or sports club online. As its ad targeting is based on your Facebook activity and profile information, it’s also fairly expansive.” – Debbie Aurelius, Peppermint Fish

Additionally, Instagram has a 20% organic reach, which you can take advantage of by including popular and relevant hashtags in your posts. Plus, with the influx of gymgoers now using the platform to find fitness inspiration, it’s also a good idea to get your personal trainers spreading the word on there too!

When it comes to using social media to attract new gym members, Dan Pinne from Organik Digital says: “Facebook Messenger Bots are a new and engaging method to communicate with your potential customers to easily move them closer to the point of conversion. They work by automating a conversation in a user’s Facebook inbox. Users interact with the messages and you can design a ‘choose your own adventure’ style of conversation based on the services you offer.

“The unique aspect with Messenger bots is they allow you to capture information from their Facebook profile to automatically send to other platforms like email services or even payment/booking systems, all without ever having to leave Messenger. The key to remember about Messenger bots is they don’t replace human interaction, they merely open up a conversation that you potentially may never have had before.

“To start with Messenger bots, you need to use a 3rd party program that makes it easy for you to setup. Manychat is our recommendation and they have a free profile but at $10 per month for the advanced features, it’s highly worth it. Gyms and fitness centres can use bots to provide a personalised solutions for people looking to join, and this might be through a series of questions that evolve around, but don’t mention (remember, it’s a personal space in their inbox) losing weight, toning up, training for an event in language that is conversational.”

The team at Traffic Jam Media helped us to put this together! Traffic Jam Media are a digital marketing agency, so if you need help in attracting more members then get in touch!


Achieve your Goals

The Reality
So, we’re powering through the first quarter of the year; for most, New Year’s resolutions seem like a distant memory (even laughable)! Whilst others are onto the next idea. But what about those who are still planning on fulfilling their 2017 resolutions? There’s a huge push for ‘New Year, New You’ but by February 1st, the topic of discussion is Valentine’s Day and the concept of a ‘New You’ is old news.

Unless your will power is made of steel, it can be tough to keep going with challenges you have set for yourself. Motivation can start to drag, frustration can set in, or even worse, you can easily forget that you’ve set yourself a goal! Whether you’re in a rut or powering through, you can master your goals through a variety of ways.

It’s time to break things down. Think lots of small objectives to help you achieve that overall goal.

The statistics
When it comes to resolutions, health and fitness dominates the thought process for individuals. According to Comres, our new year’s resolutions are dominated by how we look and feel. The interesting factor is that all the goals we set for ourselves to last a whole year, are huge! We bypass the idea of making things easier for ourselves and essentially head straight for failure. Exercising more (38%), losing weight (33%) and to eat more healthily (32%) are the most popular resolutions that we make and yet, we are setting ourselves up for failure because there are no goals in place. Before you even decide what you’re going to do, you need to be SMART:

Specific
We never do this! You want to lose weight? Be specific so that you have something to aim for!

Don’t: ‘I’m going to lose weight this year’

Do: ‘I’m going to lose weight in time for my cousins wedding in September and to do this I will lose 3kgs.

Measurable
Give yourself a precise target then break it down so that you have manageable goals to work towards.

Don’t: Pluck a number out of the air and hope you’ll lose weight

Do: Work out how much weight you can lose in a healthy way over a specific period. Give yourself weekly/ monthly targets to hit. If you’re unsure, ask the experts!

Achievable
Do not set yourself up to fail. It’s easy to make flippant statements as to what you want to achieve but the reality of accomplishing them can be heart-breaking. Think it through!

Don’t: ‘I want to lose 3 stone!’

Do: ‘According to my body fat percentage, I can lose a stone and a half and be in a healthy weight range.’

Realistic
Think about all of the above factors and what your daily activity is like. Will the goal that you have set be realistic given your lifestyle? Do you need to change anything or more importantly can you change anything? If you work late and plan on using exercise classes to lose weight, this isn’t likely to happen as you’ll never make it to class.

Don’t: ‘I’ll run a marathon, that will shift the weight!’

Do: ‘I really enjoy running, I’ve joined a running club that fits with my current lifestyle’

Time
A year is a long time when it comes to goals; good on one hand but tricky on the other. You have a whole year to achieve your goal but then how will you stay on track for a whole year?! Break it down, give yourself more achievable mini goals.

Don’t: ‘I’m losing 3 stone this year!’

Do: Set yourself mini goals, review and achieve more!

Keeping on track
Apps will be, if not already, your new best friend. There is one for pretty much everything these days and there are some amazing apps that you can use to help you hit your goals.
Whether you want a step counter, 10k tracker or gym management tracker, the options are available to you in the form of an app to keep you on the move. For daily motivation, give 0 to 200 Squats Trainer Challenge by Zen Labs a go.

Tracking your nutrition is also key! If you don’t already monitor your diet, you may have a shock when you add everything up. Not necessarily because you’re eating too much, but the breakdown of macros can be quite shocking when you don’t think about what you’re eating. But that doesn’t mean you must strip your diet down! Sara Dubler from Sara’s Healthy Kitchen says:

“Healthy eating shouldn’t be considered a “diet”, it should be a lifestyle you want to lead. It is misleading to think that healthy foods have to be plain and boring. Vibrant colours, spices, herbs, and textures can bring to life any dish, making it exciting and bursting with flavour!”

Motivation
This is ultimately dependent on you. What gives you the fire in your belly to get up and go? The goal itself may be a good enough motivation for you and with your realistic way of reaching your it, you’ll be there in no time.


Start your Christmas promotion early

receiptContact all of your members offering them a special “thank –you” voucher that they can pass onto a friend or family member.

This voucher will then entitle the recipient to free membership to your club until the end of December.
Treat this new person as a fully paid up member. Give them an induction, create a workout plan, and give them a membership card.

Spend this time working as hard as you can to make them feel welcome and part of the club.

Set up a separate membership type for these members, so that you can easily and quickly target them through your clubs software package. And send them regular motivation emails and texts. (Click here to find out how you can send emails and texts through Ashbourne software system that is supplied at no extra charge)

In the last week of December send them an email with a joining offer stating … “You already feel part of the club, don’t waste the time you have already invested … join now and continue the great work you have started”.

Your club will now feel busier in these quieter months and when it comes to the New Year, they are in a position to join, and what better place to join than a club that they already feel comfortable in and that their friends or family are also a member of.

Contact Grant for your FREE email template to send to your current member’s grant@ashbournemanagement.co.uk

12 Days of Christmas
Launch a ‘12 days of Christmas’ drive to increase your secondary spend.
Offer a different discounted product on each of the 12 days in the lead up to Christmas. Whether it is supplements, clothing or personal training, this will allow you to expose a broad range of your stock to customers and push loyal customers towards new products. Just make sure you carefully plan ahead for this so you have enough stock!! (For info on Ashbourne EPOS software that is included at no extra cost click here).

Gift cards
Gift cards or certificates are another way of sparking interest among customers. Make sure you rotate stock to make your offering look fresh and consider limiting the gift cards to a particular range of your stock.
Encourage your members to purchase memberships for family and friends and postdate them to start in the New Year. Reward your current members when they purchase vouchers with free PT sessions.

Cash in at the cash register
When providing a receipt to your customers, why not use the opportunity for an innovative promotional offer? For example, add some text to the bottom of your till receipt and ask customers to pass their receipts to a friend for a free guest pass or a % off a membership. Make sure you add and expiry date to increase the urgency.