Structure Your Offerings with Client Programming for Fitness
Client programming is your menu of good things that you offer your market. In the fitness business, it’s one of the fundamental dimensions that define a successful training practice.
The big-box fitness brands can afford to stand back and cover all of the programming bases. As a small gym business owner, you are probably better served if you focus on one or a few. The irony, of course, is that the corporate brands would do better if they could do the same. However, in my experience, excellence doesn’t scale all that well.
It’s true that new brands like OrangeTheory have kept it tight. Others, like CrossFit, buy into a system that provides training for a niche segment of the market have programming and organizational culture readymade. If you get the programming right, it’ll be a significant step toward success for you.
The Framework for Fitness
Client programming is the focus of the structure of your business as an operational process. There are certain things you should put together as policy in your club. Train your staff and always seek to improve on them. Delivering client programming for your membership is just one stage of many. All have to fit and work together to be credible to your community and beneficial to your clients.
- Marketing activities
- Selling memberships
- Client onboarding
- Fitness assessment
- Fitness client programming
- Selling premium products and services
Within this framework, Client programming is the sweet spot; everything before you get there sets it up, and all after either builds on it, keeps it going, or both. Your client programming defines your framework.
Once the model is clear, you can build your policies and procedures around it. You know to whom you intend to recruit, the sales process in outline, and everything you need to do to get new members into the swing of your program.
Brand Your Enterprise
Branding is about creating fitness club name recognition. I know I write about it a lot, but it is one of the defining factors for any business. What could be better than becoming the eponymous brand associated with a segment of the market?
When you say CrossFit or Spartan, a programming system and standard set of procedures come to mind immediately. If I said that I put on my Nikes, the sentence makes sense, and that brand recognition creates a proprietary lock on the market.
Brands like Nike, Under Armor, Spartan Up, and CrossFit bring whole genres of products or training regimes to mind. Recognition like that doesn’t come easily, but it pays enormous dividends when you finally get it.
Generate Perceived Value
The value that matters is the experience that your customers perceive that they receive. You can create that experience consistently if you control the parameters. Your client programming facilitates the kind of controlled environment where you can monitor and measure performance and satisfaction.
How you talk about and deliver your service helps to create the perception. On the other hand, you have to follow up by successfully delivering on that promise. Also, you have to generate the buzz before you run out of cash. Getting to the breakeven point, and beyond it, is no joke. However, you are much more likely to achieve it if you build the business around a solid client programming regimen.
Target the Winning Niche
Your success comes from many factors. Hopefully, you can take control of all or most of them. Start with a clear plan to help people get fit, and the possibilities are limitless. Behind that is a need to optimize what you have. If your background and certifications are in physiotherapy, your programming choices would be different from a sports sciences graduate or certified yoga instructor.
A client programming niche that has a broad base of consumer support might be a good fit in one market and not others. Alternatively, there could be an underserved niche with a passionate minority of supporters within the community. Popular markets bring intensive competition, and sometimes the more profitable option is to find a sub-group that got left behind.
There is much that you can bring to any niche if you are willing to commit fully and learn what makes it tick. Every change you make is a chance to learn. Over time, and with imagination, you can create a superior version of your fitness programs and zero in on whatever niche turns out to be the winner for you.
It Was Where You Started
You can open a gym that just supplied the space and equipment, and an attendant. If you want to earn enough income to keep the doors open, you have to find enough members to break even and add a little profit on top. Unless it’s an excuse to have your own workout spot and you can cover any losses, that’s not such a great business model.
The income potential for a fitness club lives and dies with your ability to engage with your club members.
Direction for the future
Even the most basic and niche client programming framework is a basis for open-ended expansion. You tend to keep going in one direction unless you have reason to change. A change of course like this is the so-called pivot that startup companies do when they find the limits of potential before the cash runs out.
In either case, continuing or making a pivot, your direction should take you toward a bigger business opportunity. When your client programming is right, everything else is a matter of detail. With programming that finds a market, your share should grow with time. Client programming is the pointer for your future direction.
It Establishes Credibility
You may have noticed that trainers and gym rats, along with everyone else thinks they know best. In many cases, your sophisticated fitness aficionado does know a thing or two, and they’re vocal about it. So, a smart fitness programming regimen helps you to encourage positive chatter, or at least, goodwill in your community.
Prospects for your fitness club are looking signs that you can help them achieve the kind of fitness gains they desire. If you can get the local voices on your side, it gives you that third-party promotional boost that is priceless in helping establish credibility.
The Thinking Trainer’s Approach to Client Programming
Does your program work, or does it not? That is what you have to find out. However, even a program that is not getting results may be the fodder for a better system, one that gets outstanding results.
If client programming is the centerpiece of your framework, your gym management software system is the foundation on which you build it. Gym management software tools like those included in Gym Insight give you everything you need to run your fitness business. Design your client programming to serve your membership, and the combination is your best bet for fitness business success.
The Seven Client Programming Keys in Summary – It is:
- A framework for your place in the fitness business
- The basis around which you can create your brand
- Tangible value based on intangible assets
- Targeting for the winning niche
- An excellent place to start a fitness business
- Your direction for the future
- A system that communicates credibility to your market and membership
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———. “Successful Change Management for Fitness Center Growth.” Gym Insight Blog, June 6, 2017. https://blog.gyminsight.com/4446-successful-change-management-for-fitness-center-growth/.
———. “The Big Picture in Client Acquisition and Client Retention.” Fitness. Gym Insight Blog, December 28, 2018. https://blog.gyminsight.com/5303-the-big-picture-in-client-acquisition-and-client-retention/.
McGrath, Chris. “Fitness Program Design for the Average Client.” American Council on Exercise, August 10, 2012. /education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/2837/fitness-program-design-for-the-average-client.
Mullins, Kevin. “7 Fitness Programming Principles to Stop Getting Laughed at by Clients and Trainers.” The PTDC, July 4, 2017. https://www.theptdc.com/good-fitness-programming.