Turn Your Passion into a Podcast!

By Christine Conti MEd

If you have a passion, then you are ready to start a podcast! It’s that simple!

In an increasingly fast-paced world where information must be readily accessible and available at the push of a button, podcasts have become the “go-to” source for the most current news, accurate information, and up-to-date trends. While the average American spends more and more time each day glued to their phones and smart devices, so does the need for more content in the form of podcasts.

Here is where you come in!

If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, fitness professional, or simply looking to promote your brand, having your own podcast is a must! And if you have yet to take the plunge into the podcasting world, here are just a few reasons why podcasting may be your key to greater success!

  • Podcasts are FREE!
  • Podcasts DO NOT require a lot of time.
  • Podcasts provide a WORLDWIDE PLATFORM to promote your brand.
  • Podcasts allow you to SHARE YOUR PASSION and BE AN EXPERT in your field!
  • Podcasts give you a reason to CONNECT, NETWORK, and SERVE others.

When I started my podcast 6 years ago, I didn’t have a lot of time, money, or fancy audio-visual equipment. Full disclosure, I never even listened to podcasts, but I knew that a major television company was not about to knock on my door and ask me to host my own talk show. However, what I did know was that I had a story to tell and a passion for inspiring others to live healthier and happier lives. With a little bit of courage, VOILA, my podcast was born!

Podcasts, unlike blogs or printed articles, allow you to be authentic and talk freely about your struggles and triumphs. They allow you to be intimate with your audience through stories and provide an unbiased platform for guests to share their experiences. In addition, you are more inclusive and reach diverse audiences around-the-world that may not have access to this type of information.

In fact, as 2023 draws to a close, I can honestly say that starting my own podcast was one of the best business and marketing decisions in my career. I had no idea that podcasting would drastically change the trajectory of my life, and it just might do the same for you!

Now, as you prepare to embark on your own podcasting journey, here are some final tips to keep in mind!

  • Don’t try to create the “perfect” podcast that will appeal to millions of people because it will NEVER be perfect.
  • No one is perfect, and your audience will relate to you better when you come across perfectly imperfect.
  • Do not be afraid to create a podcast that you would love to listen to. Chances are, if you are passionate about something, then other people will be too!

Happy Podcasting!

About the Author: Christine Conti MEd

Chronic Disease Wellness Specialist, Best-Selling Author (Split-Second Courage), Keynote Speaker, 4x IRONMAN & IDEA World 2023 Fitness Professional of the Year www.ContiFit.com, [email protected], Instagram: @TheChristineConti, Facebook/LinkedIn: Christine Conti, Twitter/X: @Contifitness, YouTube/TikTok: ChristineConti1, Podcast: Two Fit Crazies & A Microphone www.TwoFitCrazies.com Reinventing the Woman International Group: www.RTWtribe.com 

Level Up Success in 2024
DC MANIA® – February 23-25

The 3-day SCW Business Summit from February 23-25, 2024 at DC MANIA in Washington DC is more than just an event—it’s a transformative opportunity for individuals seeking to expand their fitness business and elevate their profession. Nested within the MANIA® convention, the Business Summit stands out as a distinct and immersive experience that caters to both individuals and teams. Hyper focused on the business side of fitness and wellness, we will equip you with the tools and insights essential for success.
 
EMPOWERING PEOPLE & BUSINESS
At the core of the Business Summit lies a diverse range of opportunities. Education, networking, and access to invaluable resources, all aimed at empowering attendees to distinguish themselves. The summit’s 17 Business Sessions, totaling 30 hours of content, cover these crucial areas:
• Sales strategies
• Innovative marketing techniques
• Social media essentials
• Fine-tune management skills
• Programming
• Client retention
• Leverage technology for business growth
• Manage finances effectively
• Industry trends

Great Writing Benefits Your Business

By Julie King, MS

Today, content is king, and businesses must capitalize on a variety of written marketing tools to remain competitive. More than just a website and social media posts, fitness professionals, studios, and gyms have to continually produce blogs, newsletters, promotional materials, videos, ads, and more to raise awareness of and build loyalty to their brand.

However, given the vast volume of information, clients and prospects likely only devote a few seconds while navigating content to determine what is worthy of their attention amidst this digital deluge. How can you make sure they choose your content?

Great writing makes a difference.

Quality Trumps Quantity

In a world addicted to “more is better” and the pressure of SEO in the online arena, it can be easy to believe that creating content is valuable simply for the sake of content.

Not so.

Quality is critical.

You may think that because people tend to skim – rather than fully read – so much written material today, quality is a secondary consideration and that good enough is enough.

But consider if you operate with that philosophy in other areas of your business. Is good enough a license to teach the same group ex class over and over, without changing the choreography, exercises or music?

Is it good enough to cycle several clients through the same workouts rather than invest in customization?

And is it good enough to skip preventative maintenance of equipment because you’re short-staffed?

To excel, you can’t settle for good enough anywhere. When it comes to written content, many competing demands exist for your audience’s attention. Therefore, why not make the effort to ensure that your content is compelling so that it fully benefits your business?

Why ChatGPT Isn’t the Answer

Good writing is well-constructed, grammatically accurate, properly punctuated sentences that are clear and logically organized to inform readers. With smart prompts, reference checking and human editing, you may be able to get this from AI like ChatGPT.

ChatGPT can give you the basics, but its writing is robotic, generic, and forgettable. It lacks creativity and human insight. Relying on it to produce your content will result in bland, stilted messaging that easily gets lost in a sea of sameness.

Great writing is much more. It educates, inspires, connects, prompts, persuades, and impacts readers. It conveys voice and emotion, tone and nuance, character and allusion. It stands out and is memorable. By nature, then, great writing must come from human authors; AI is a machine and simply isn’t capable of this sophistication.  

That doesn’t mean that all written content you produce must be worthy of a literary award, of course. But moving beyond basic writing to ensure that your communication is meaningful, engaging, and effective is worth it and can lead to powerful results for your business.

Benefits of Great Writing

Generates awareness.

Well-written content with relevant keywords drives traffic to your online presence and attracts greater interest in printed materials. This can lead to new leads, business opportunities, recruitment, and revenue.

Promotes a professional image.

Typos on your website or in your marketing materials instantly make your business look sloppy and diminish the value of your brand. Great writing includes strong editing and precise proofreading.

Enhances your credibility.

With so much misleading and false information in the fitness industry, accurate and clear writing positions you as an expert, builds trust and encourages people to read your content.

Customizes your brand.

Consumers today want to connect with brands they believe in and that share similar values. Great writing humanizes your brand voice so people understand the people behind the business.

Differentiates your business.

Let’s face it; there are only so many ways you can write about building your biceps. Stand out from competitors with thoughtful, practical content that your audience can easily digest and apply. Understand their interests and deliver accordingly.

Builds relationships and loyalty.

Despite all the advantages of technology, people still crave genuine connection and relationships. Good writing compels people to read, share, and comment on your content, which facilitates familiarity and trust and can foster positive reviews.

From Good to Great

Although many people seem to think they are great writers, the reality is that effective writing is a trained skill and not a universal talent. Just because you – or ChatGPT – can write doesn’t mean that you should be writing for your business.

Like you hire an accountant to manage your books, powerful writing is available through professional writers. Many are available on a contract basis and can work within your budget parameters. Or you may choose to hire an employee to manage all writing for your business.

Delegating this task to someone unqualified or simply relying on ChatGPT results only in words on paper and not much else in terms of achieving business objectives. Furthermore, if your content continually falls short, your audience will learn to tune out, thereby further reducing its effectiveness.

Being mindful of and intentional about harnessing the impact of great writing helps your business stand out and succeed. In today’s competitive landscape, investing in compelling content delivers a valuable and enduring ROI.

About the Author: Julie King, MS

Julie King, MS, has spent two decades as a freelance writer and content creator, specializing in the fitness industry, and working for a variety of companies and professional organizations. Holding multiple certifications, a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in kinesiology, she has been a group exercise instructor and personal trainer for more than 30 years. She also has served as a manager, fitness director and fitness/wellness coordinator within health clubs and corporate fitness centers. Reach her at [email protected].

Fitness Providers – Are You Accessible and Inclusive?

By Sarah Bolitho
Courtesy of FitPro.com

HOW DO WE ENCOURAGE PEOPLE WITH A DISABILITY TO ACCESS ACTIVITY AND EXERCISE OPPORTUNITIES THAT WILL BENEFIT THEIR HEALTH, WELLBEING AND FUNCTION, AND REDUCE OR MANAGE OTHER LONG-TERM CONDITIONS?

There are an estimated 16 million people in the UK who have a disability; that is around 24% of the population – or nearly one in four. Yet 43% of disabled people are physically inactive compared with only 23% of the non-disabled population. Many disabled people report that they are unable to access physical activity and exercise – not only because of a lack of accessible venues but also because of a lack of qualified fitness instructors.

The Equality Act 2010 states that public authorities, including those who provide exercise and activity services, must consider the needs of those with a protected characteristic, in this case disability, and remove or reduce any potential disadvantages, meet the needs of those people, and encourage people to participate in public life and other activities.

The evidence shows that physical activity in any form is important in promoting health and wellbeing in all populations. However, the level of inactivity in the disabled population, combined with the fact that people with a disability are twice as likely to develop one or more comorbidities, such as cardiac issues and hypertension, obesity, diabetes, asthma, stroke and depression, makes this an area to address to help reduce risk factors for, and manage, existing conditions. It is also worth mentioning that the purple pound is strong (approximately £249 billion annually in the UK), so it makes financial as well as health-related sense to be fully inclusive!

So, how do we encourage people with a disability to access activity and exercise opportunities that will benefit their health, wellbeing and function, and reduce or manage other long-term conditions?

It is simple: we make sure our facilities, venues and services are inclusive as well as accessible! So, what is the difference between being accessible and being inclusive in the context of people with a disability?

Accessibility is defined as “the quality of being easily reached, entered or used by people who have a disability”.  This can include reception areas, signage, hearing services, level floors, gym or studio layouts, changing facilities, lifts, etc., as well as having trained staff who can help or advise as required. A simple remit you may think; however, the Activity Alliance has identified accessibility issues within the fitness industry, as only 67 of almost 7,500 facilities in the UK are accredited as accessible. That is fewer than 1% and, while there may be more facilities that are accessible, without the Inclusive Fitness Initiative accreditation, many disabled clients will be unaware of them.

Accessible facilities go further than the layout; it means that equipment needs to be suitable for people with mobility or access issues, such as the side they can transfer from chair to equipment on, or needing to remain in their chair. Those with visual impairments may need verbal instructions and others with a learning disability will need simple instructions or images to follow. If you are in any doubt, ask local disability charities or Activity Alliance to do an access audit with you, as they will have a specific perspective and will highlight things you may not be aware of.

Being accessible also means there are instructors who are qualified and confident in their ability to support customers with diverse needs and that other users are disability aware, and not negative or dismissive. Consider your changing facilities as well: are there private areas for those who want them, is there room for a wheelchair and a carer (if required), and are they clearly signed and accessible?

Inclusivity is part of accessibility but goes further. Being inclusive means that people with a disability are welcomed and included at all levels of a service, from consultation, to employment and participation. Inclusivity means that anyone with a disability can approach any fitness facility or provider confident that not only will the facility be accessible, but there will be someone available who is qualified and competent to support them in their activity needs and desires.

So, it is important you not only have a disability-qualified fitness team – including gym and group exercise instructors – but also that all staff from reception to management are disability aware and educated and can support clients throughout their customer journey. It means providing a range of equipment that can be used by those with impairments or disabilities that limit use of resistance machines or others who need to exercise from their chairs. Resistance bands and tubes, medicine balls, lighter dumbbells and barbells, and stability cushions are easy to provide and store.

It is also worth looking at your team. While nearly a quarter of the population has a disability, only 11.3% of fitness professionals are disabled. Employing instructors with a disability shows you are truly inclusive and, as Sam James from InclusFit, says, “People often seek me out because they have had negative experiences in the past and they know I will understand them, so they feel safe.”

And finally, how inclusive is your marketing? Do you show images of everyday disabled people? In fact, are there any disabled people at all in your promotional materials? If not, then it may be time to rethink how you promote your facility or service and this is where local groups can advise you.

SO, YOUR FIVE KEY ACTION POINTS TO BE ACCESIBLE AND INCLUSIVE, WHETHER YOU ARE A LARGE FACILITY, CHAIN OR SOLO BUSINESS, ARE:

  1. Contact local disability groups and get them to conduct an audit of your facility, service and marketing, then act on their findings where practical.
  2. Provide disability-awareness training for all staff.
  3. Create marketing materials that reflect a diverse audience, including realistic images of disabled people in your facility (not Paralympians training at an elite facility).
  4. Ensure you have at least one instructor who is disability qualified at each site or in your business and seek out qualified professionals who are disabled to be part of your team.
  5. Provide a range of small and portable equipment in the gym and studio areas, and train instructors in how to use these and be able to adapt for a range of different disabilities and impairments.

In summary, let’s start to create a more accessible and inclusive industry and experience for people with a disability or impairment – it makes legal, ethical and financial sense!

About the Author: Sara Bolitho

Sarah Bolitho is a Fitness Career Mentor and uses her 30-years industry experience as an instructor, tutor/assessor, IV/EV, and course writer to support new and experienced fitness professionals in developing their careers. She is the author of six books in the ‘Complete Guide to…’ series, has worked for/run, large and small training organisations, written for magazines and been on radio as a leading authority so is ideally placed to support instructors in their career development. Sarah delivers the Active IQ Level 3 Award In Designing Exercise Programmes for Disabled Clients if you would like to learn more www.sarahbolitho.com

Registration Now Open!
California MANIA® – March 22-24

California MANIA is open for business, so register NOW!  Come to San Francisco and enjoy 80 presenters and 200 sessions, all for $100 off when you use the code “YEAREND”. Start the year right by joining other dedicated fitness and wellness pros for unrivaled education, resources, community, and an enriching experience that will help you excel in the competitive fitness industry.

From cutting-edge sessions led by industry icons to in-depth educational workshops covering the latest trends and research, SCW MANIA® has it all!  Get started by viewing the sessions offered at www.scwfit.com/california 
 
Earn 20+ CECs/CEUs from SCW, ACE, AEA, ACSM, NASM, AFAA and NASM. Top-tier education verified by the most reputable providers in fitness.
 
Experience MANIA® in-person or online! Whether you prefer the unbeatable live convention on-site in California or remote attendance (with access to 160 recorded sessions), we’ve got you covered!
 

With 200+ Activity and Lecture sessions and 20 Specialty Certifications, MANIA® offers you more flexibility and variety than ever before.  Maximize your fitness pro experience with endless combinations of session topics sure to pique your interest or take your current knowledge even further.

The Business Summit is an event within the MANIA® event.  Sessions are exclusively dedicated to marketing, trends, sales, retention, social media, products, programming, finance and management. Learn more here: www.scwfit.com/business.
 
MANIA® is not just a Fitness Convention; it’s a destination. Stay on-site at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport and take full advantage of the event from the early morning hours until the late evening. So come join us in our nation’s capital teeming with iconic monuments, vast museums and abundant nightlife.
Book Your Stay here.  
 
Check out the exclusive MANIA® attendee discounts and offers from our fine sponsors here.
 
When you make the decision to attend MANIA®, you are making a commitment to fitness pro excellence. Join us in California this March where we will exceed your expectations!.scwfit.com

11 Best Practice Guidelines to Increase Customer Retention

By Dr. Paul Bedford
Courtesy of IHRSA

High member and customer retention is a critical element of any successful fitness business. Retaining an existing member demands far less investment than recruiting new ones. IHRSA research shows that a member that leaves can cost as much as $674 in annual revenue per dropped account.

According to a survey by Invesp Consulting, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25-95%. The success rate of selling to a customer you already have is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is only 5-20%.

If you are looking for ideas on how to improve member retention, follow the best practices below and then check out the additional resources at the end of the article to learn more.

This article is one in a series of 28 Best Practice Guidelines for Operating a Fitness Facility.

Building a Strong Customer Retention Strategy

For your business to be successful, you need to focus on the ones that make it succeed—your customers. Follow these guidelines and increase your member retention strategy.

  1. Ensure Your Members Are Using the Gym
  2. Engage Your Customers
  3. Build Relationships
  4. Help Your Customers Succeed

Ultimately, making sure your members are happy will in turn create loyal customers that will keep coming back.

Ensure Your Members Are Using the Gym

1. Drive visit frequency and ensure customers are using your facility 1-3 times per week (4-12 times per month). Start with the lower end of the range and help customers ramp up to the higher end of the range.

2. Use group fitness classes to help customers develop a same day, same time routine. Build your class schedule so that customers can attend the same class 2-3 times each week at the same time. Make it easy for your customers to add classes to their calendar.

Engage Your Customers

3. Create a retention plan for inactive customers and initiate a re-engagement strategy, such as automated email campaigns based on visit history.

4. Create programs specific to the demographics in your club and in your community. Don’t get distracted by industry trends that don’t fit your demographic. Evaluate every program you offer to identify the impact it has on customer retention.

5. Customers age 35+ are sometimes easier to retain than customers under age 35. But you should program for all age groups within your market.

6. Provide customers with multiple options to do business with you. Consider an option that offers cost savings, possibly with an annual commitment, which may help the customer make a psychological commitment. Ideally, you will have 2-3 membership options.

Build Relationships

7. Create a relational community within your facility. Engage and socialize with your customers.

8. Welcome customers when they enter your facility. Interact with them throughout your facility. Ask questions and engage them in conversation. Ask them when they are coming in for their next visit. Ideally, there are at least three interactions: a warm welcome, connection during their activity of choice, and a fond farewell.

9. Understand that customer discontent kills retention. Discontent is everything that gets in the way of a positive experience. Over time, singular issues and incidents can ultimately create a tipping point that results in the customer leaving your facility

Help Your Customers Succeed

10. Use goal setting to build confidence and achieve customer happiness. Identify the customer’s superordinate goal, which is the key driver of their behavior. Ask them what achieving their goal will do for them. The answer is essentially their version of confidence or happiness. Break down large goals into smaller, daily goals—e.g., What is your goal for today? What is their dominant buying motive?

11. Develop an onboarding process for customers who are new to exercise. This helps build confidence to come into the facility and competence to use the facility. Building customer confidence when it comes to using the facility is paramount to their success.

About the Author: Dr. Paul Bedford

Paul is a researcher, international speaker and fitness industry expert on retention, attrition and customer experience.

Scholarship in Memory of Michael Scott Scudder

The fitness world lost an industry icon on June 30, 2017 as Michael Scott Scudder sadly passed away due to complications with a hip replacement surgery.  Our hearts were heavy with the news of his unexpected death.  Michael was a mentor to the small business owner.  He was the CEO of MSS Network, which provided weekly advice and expert evaluations of changing trends in our fitness industry.  He was a definite soothsayer.

His priceless insights into tomorrow involved constant surveys and leaps of faith based on personal experience and professional evaluations. To put it succinctly, people trusted Michael. Business owners across the nation shared their ups and downs with Michael, and everyone trusted and loved him.

Michael shared his wisdom at all eight of SCW Fitness Education’s MANIA® Fitness Professional Conferences and inspired me (and SCW) to develop and run our Business Summit at every MANIA®. We are grateful for the knowledge, wit and passion he brought to MANIA® and the lasting impressions he made on our faculty and attendees.  He was truly one of a kind.

In Michael’s honor, SCW Fitness Education will be offering a free MANIA® and Business Summit attendance to worthy Fitness Facility Owners, Managers or Directors needing business advice,  educational encouragement, and financial support.  https://scwfit.com/scudder/

Micheal helped shape our fitness world of today and will be truly missed for decades to come.

Looking to Hire?
SCW Can Help

In Need of Teachers, Trainers, Directors, or Managers? SCW’s new FREE JOB BOARD is supporting the industry’s need for qualified fitness pros.

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