Once every decade or so, I deep clean my closet and take a good, hard look at what I’ve been holding on to “just in case.” In past years, I held on to clothes that were too small for my current body, but since aspirational clothing is no longer part of my body positive worldview, I noticed that what I hold onto these days is more about the kind of athlete I once was and who I might be again.
In the very back of my closet, underneath all the women’s business casual separates from at least two career changes ago, I found the padded shorts I wore playing roller derby. My playing days in the early 2010s are long gone, but my skates, helmet, and safety gear remain in a box in the garage. (I’m afraid to look, but there’s probably still an old mouthguard in there, too.) That gear was expensive, which is one of the reasons it’s hard to let go of, but letting go of the stuff also means letting go of the dream that–like the very inspiration of the name–KateThulu might live again.
What I don’t have anymore are the VHS tapes, DVDs, and infomercial ab-roller-crunch-band-lift devices that I bought when exercise was something I thought I had to do. Every few months, I swore this time would be different. This time, I would get up at 5am every day to do my Insani90X boot camp class at the gym. This time, I would be the kind of person who makes fitness a priority no matter what.
It never happened.
I never set out to be a roller derby queen. I just wondered what would happen if I showed up to tryouts. I never set out to be a runner, either. I just signed up for an 8-week 5K training program. Giving myself permission to follow my curiosity led to experiences that changed my life in ways that no resolution could match.
This time of year, lots of gyms are pushing their 2022 programming with the idea that this time will be different. You will be different. But what if we approached the new year with curiosity instead of dogged determination? Could breaking the cycle be better for business?
Rachelle Clayton of MEE Active uses free, short-term programs as lead generators that help new clients get to know her. Positioned well, these programs lead to longer term memberships that give new clients “plenty of contact/connection with the instructor & community as they learn and share their own path with others.” Here are some tips based on other BPFA members’ experiences with short-term programming:
Keep Your Goals Aligned
Starting a new exercise routine can be intimidating for clients, especially if they come from an “all in” mindset. To meet this expectation, a lot of gyms offer “total body,” “full immersion,” and “complete transformation” new year programs. Trying to recreate that experience in the short-term can lead to burnout. Keeping your short-term offering aligned with your other services is efficient and helps clients see the progression. For example, an intro workshop can lead to a paid trial or directly into regular programming.
Make Them Pay…a Little
It seems counterintuitive, but people tend to be less invested in free services. Not charging any money can also lower the perceived value of your services if you are giving them away. Keep the price in line with your overall goals. It isn’t about offering more than it makes sense to give, it’s about making your services accessible for clients who need to know more before committing.
Connect with the Right Emotion
Every infomercial fitness program and “new year, new you” promo at the gym connects with the same emotion: longing. These programs offer hope that you’ll be able to escape your crummy life once you have visible abs. It doesn’t work that way, but by the time you’ve spent $99.99 on the app, it doesn’t matter anymore.
Curiosity is just as enticing and still gives new clients what they crave: a positive, inspiring vision for the future. Could this change my life? What if I were a person who tried this? Do I belong here? Short-term programs invite new clients to find out.
Marketing Fitness Programs
This will change your life!
Could this change your life?
new, transformation, total, complete, whole, all, challenge, lifestyle, no excuses, work
try, find, connect, wonder, hope, learn, discover, future, first step, small steps, start, go, fun
Do I have to be a fitness professional to take BPFA’s courses?
Nope! We welcome everyone who’s interested in body positivity and inclusive health and wellness practices. Our community includes current and aspiring fitness professionals (aka “fitpros”), as well as general fitness enthusiasts and people who like to learn. Join us!
I am unfamiliar with the terminology surrounding inclusive fitness practices, do you have a primer I can see?
Fit2.0, or #fit2point0, is our shorthand for people or practices that are prioritizing inclusivity and accessibility in their work. You may see us refer to harmful fitness industry practices, like selling diet shakes or pushing lots of before and after photos on social media, as “fit1.0”.
Can I get CEUs for your courses?
Yes! Our course content counts for NASM CEUs, and in 2022, we will expand to include more certification programs, including CanFitPro.
I am a content creator advocating for inclusivity, and I am interested in developing a course in collaboration with BPFA. How do I get started?
ANTIRACIST – Acknowledging that our society has systemic racism baked into it, being “antiracist” means working to understand and confront racism wherever you encounter it.
BODY NEUTRAL – Body neutrality is a variation on body positivity used either to deemphasize the focus on the body or to allow that when someone is coming from years of body shame and hate or chronic pain, “positivity” can seem inaccessibile.
FIT2.0 – Fit2.0, or #fit2point0, is our shorthand for people or practices that are prioritizing inclusivity and accessibility in their work. You may see us refer to harmful fitness industry practices, like selling diet shakes or pushing lots of before and after photos on social media, as “fit1.0”.
WEIGHT NEUTRAL – Weight neutral is a keyword many gyms and trainers will use to indicate that their practices do not track client measurements or sell weight-loss regimens, that they are open to following the clients’ leads, but do not have a sizeist agenda in their programming.
Body positivity is a movement created by Black women to celebrate and advocate for marginalized bodies. (Learn more on this history from Briana Dominici’s article, “The Black History of the Body Positive Movement”) Over time, the term has reached a broader audience, which has simultaneously been a great source of healing for many while also diluting the original intent. At BPFA, we acknowledge that “Body Positivity” encompases a spectrum of meaning to each individual and that each individual’s personal privilege intersects and informs how they interact with the spectrum.
If you are here at our website scoping out courses, that tells us that you are interested in making the fitness industry a more inclusive and accessible place. We see BPFA’s role as being your empathetic guide to making your programming more welcoming to all bodies. If these are your first steps towards body positivity/body neutrality/fat liberation, you are welcome here, and our Onramp to Inclusive Fitness Practices Course will be an excellent primer for you. If you have been involved in this work for a while, some of the material here may be familiar, but we hope the action-oriented coaching tips we provide, along with our network of Fit2.0Pros, will be useful to you as well. If you are interested in diving further into this work with exceptional folks putting out great content, check out Fitness 4 All Bodies, Decolonizing Fitness, The Body Is Not an Apology, and The Fat Lip podcast, just to name a few!
So wherever you are currently on the spectrum of body positivity, BPFA is here to help you grow and point you towards the amazing community of people already out there doing this important work in the fitness industry. Welcome! We’re glad you’re here.
Be predictable. Perhaps seemingly counterintuitive advice in a world where everyone’s social media is trying ever wilder ways to catch your attention…but the reality is that on the client’s side, taking the first step to reach out to a new gym/trainer/fitness group often involves overcoming a lot of barriers.
“Barriers? What barriers? I’m a friendly coach!”
Yes, even though we may be very approachable individuals, clients come to us with a whole lifetime of experience that we don’t know about. They may be unfamiliar with the software we use, or nervous about discussing an old injury, or had a bad previous experience in a toxic gym environment, or just plain uncomfortable with facing the prospect of the awkwardness of learning something new. By being predictable, we can reduce some of those barriers by giving clients confidence that they know what to expect when they sign up.
Here are three things you can do today to make your client’s sign up experience more predictable:
Post a virtual tour of what a coaching session with you actually looks like. Whether your coaching is virtual or in person, you can share a step by step of what that looks like and help build client confidence.
Explicitly state what kind of coaching you offer. For example, “I provide weight-neutral, kickboxing classes for beginner to intermediate athletes.”
Make it easy to find and understand your pricing. It can be scary to put numbers out there, but hiding what you cost is a quick way to irritate potential clients. Bonus – sharing your pricing is a great way to let potential clients know if you offer sliding scale and/or bartering options!
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