July is always a crazy month for fitness pros. Holiday cookouts, vacations and super-hot weather all lead to erratic attendance for even the most die-hard fitness enthusiasts. As instructors and trainers, this time of year can definitely take its toll. With lower numbers, cancellations nearly every day, absence of your favorite front-row diva that always brings the energy and knowing that everyone else is out playing while you’re working—it’s no wonder many fitness professionals can’t wait for school to be back in session.
I’ve been searching for solutions since the day I put on my first pair of Reebok Princess shoes with matching slouch socks. And, you know what I’ve come up with? WE can be the solution with a slight shift in attitude! Make the summer months fly by with the following six tips for surviving summer.
DO SOMETHING FOR THEM
Change Your Tone
When you start your class and numbers are unexpectedly low, you may inadvertently say the wrong thing. “Where is everyone?” or, “Wow, where’d everyone go?” Of course, you mean no harm. But consider how this falls on the ears of the ones who DID show up? Start by thinking up new opening statements to celebrate the ones who are there and encourage them to stick to it even though they are the minority! You’ll have raving fans come fall and they’ll be telling their friends to join them right away.
-“Congratulations!!! On a day when few people found the time to make it into the gym for class, you did. I’m so proud!”
-“Yeah, an intimate group…I can’t wait to give you each the individualized attention you deserve today!”
-“Turn to the person beside you and give them a high five for making it to class when everyone else seems to be at the pool drinking a cocktail!”
Try Something New
Believe it or not, there are advantages to having a smaller-than-normal class. Are there toys that you can’t usually play with because you run out? Or a partner drill you’ve been dying to try, but you couldn’t because it’s too hard to organize with tons of people? Perhaps there’s a new combination or exercises you would never dare try with your crazy front-row frowner staring your down, but they’re not there today! WOO HOO! Think of three things that you couldn’t do if you had a big class and incorporate one each week to keep your class fresh.
Make ‘Em Feel Special
There’s no denying that the energy of a larger class can make a workout go by more quickly. Building numbers up during this crazy time is tough, but if you start a small rewards system with amazing prizes, you might be able to keep the ones you’ve got and add to the mix. Put on your thinking cap and dream up some ideas for incentivizing those that are sticking to their workouts and encourage spreading the word.
For example, The Tour de France is a GREAT event to get behind during the summer. In cycling, you can encourage class participation by creating a program based around participation during the days of the event. For each class a rider completes, he or she can receive “miles” (the number of miles in the day’s stage). At the end of the Tour, tally up the miles and award a male and female winner. You could even award “bonus miles” for bringing friends or attending other classes that complement cycling (e.g., yoga, strength, core) to get the whole club involved and drive participation numbers.
Plant the Seed
Perhaps you’re thinking, sure, that all sounds great…but it won’t work. No worries…use this time to plan for the future. Focus on building community beyond your club walls. Get involved in community events (e.g., do the warm-up for a local race, be at the local farmer’s market). The summer is also great time to enhance your social media strategy and get people excited about the fall. The more work you do now to gain exposure, the more new members you could have in class come September.
DO SOMETHING FOR YOU
Take Time Off
That’s right, I said it…be deliberate and plan some breaks during the summer months. It’s important to work with your manager and fellow teammates to be sure the club isn’t left high and dry. But we all need some time to frolic in the sun and recharge our batteries. You might find you come back to your small classes refreshed, renewed and not so concerned about the lack of attendance.
Invest in SOMEONE ELSE
Giving back is a wonderful way to spend the slower summer days. Help groom someone else for the September rush. Is there a younger instructor you could mentor or a member who should or could become an instructor? Teaching someone else is a great way to keep the fitness industry moving forward, while simultaneously enhancing your skills.
Invest in YOU
Summer is the perfect time for EDUCATION and REINVENTION. Make a plan between now and when your kiddos go back to school to learn something new each week. There are plenty of online resources where you can watch videos of past conference sessions, read idea and research articles, or simply get motivated by learning some new choreography or exercise ideas. There are also several big fitness conferences this summer. Why not plan a family vacation (or a mom vacation) and go immerse yourself in the fitness world for a few days? Train for something (a new hobby, a new sport or fitness goal), tune up your technique (video or audio record a class and give yourself some feedback) or try something new in the world of teaching (now is the best time to plan with your manager for the fall schedule). Learning is the best way to stay fresh during the sluggish summer months.
Summer will be over before you know it. You can easily make it through 10 to 12 weeks of classes if you focus on the six tips above. If you remain positive, in the fall you’ll be even better than you were last spring.