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News and Updates by Rachel Holmes
International Fitness Showcase Round Up – IFS Reborn
Out of the all the years I have been doing the Blackpool Convention, this year really did top them all. There is a definite change in the air with Group Exercise and IFS reflected that to a T with the brilliant sessions, timetabling, event management, venue and organisation. To start with, the Winter Gardens has had a face lift, it’s bright, clean and the venues are huge so you have plenty of room. All the sessions are in one place so it’s really easy to walk around and see everything that’s going on, which certainly makes a big difference . IFS is run by Top Presenters and Industry Moguls Steve Watson and Ceri Hannon. Steve and Ceri have presented at all the major European events and as this is their 7th year the boys and the Chrysalis Team have nailed the organisation down to a fine art.
IFS is a very friendly convention. Every year 20 of my regular class participants attend from my local Nottingham and Derby classes and they feel right at home mixing with Instructors and Presenters. The atmosphere is very positive, everyone is smiling and throwing themselves into the classes. I taught Body Shock, which is a killer workout, on the last session on Saturday. Usually people are shattered by this time but the whole group excelled and worked out like it was their first class. The energy and enthusiasm is massive here.
I arrived on the Wednesday ready to present Thursday to Fitness First Pre Convention. The Get Fit with Mel B Workout was well received, I think, because the class concept is moving into a new genre of group x class. It’s a metabolic, body weight class containing strength training, agility, endurance, aerobic and anaerobic with super simple choreography that matches the music, it’s very much results driven and is a hard core workout.
On the FF pre convention was also Zumba…..Zumba!!! What can I say Zumba was HUGE at IFS. The Zumba team had taken over the Spanish Hall with a one day training course with over 190 Instructors taking part to get qualified, The Zumba stand was selling Zumba wear faster than the Next Boxing Day Sale. I have NEVER seen anything like it, even before the event opened people were trying to buy Zumba clothing. Naomi, Caroline and Donna rocked all weekend presenting Zumbatronic, Zumba Gold & Zumba Toning every session was rammed. It was awesome to see the bright colours everywhere, smiling instructors and the happy vibe that Zumba brings. Watching the sessions was mesmerising. As well as Zumba, Freestyle was rocking, the classes held in the Empress Ballroom had between 300 – 600 in every hour, it was like being at a pop concert. I taught a team teach with Jo Parry and Steve Watson and we had so much fun. Kelly Reed blasted out her It’s a Girl thing masterclass and Kelly, Claire Tams and Rachel Tunstall all team taught a fabulous Latin class. Jo’s The Jo Show was a brilliant tribute to Cabaret the movie and Jo also closed the event with a cool Street Dance session. There literally were so many awesome sessions: The Live Strong Indoor Cycling room was breath taking, with 10 foot video screens which took you on a round the world journey and the Dri Tri workout. Spinning was huge as was the YMCA Fit room. The Chek sessions packed out, Drummond Education featured Body Combat and Body Attack and Steve Jack held 3 days of business building lectures and motivational talks. Everything was covered from Kettlebelles to Kick Boxing to Dance to Conditioning.
The International presenters were also legendary… Claudio, Tony Stone, Daniel Gonzalez, Sava & Moris, David Van der Velde, Lars all taught impeccable classes, bursting with choreography, personality and innovation.
And that’s what sums up IFS….. it’s a convention with personality, charisma, style and charm, where presenters sit eating, drinking and socialising with delegates. It’s everyone together sharing a common love for music, movement and group x. At IFS it doesn’t matter if you teach Freestyle, Zumba, Les Mill, Pilates or anything else, it’s the love of teaching group exercise that bonds everybody together in Blackpool There’s no hierarchy or snobbery everyone is welcome with open arms. Roll on 2012 I can’t wait!
Well done to the Chrysalis Team for pulling off such an amazing weekend!
Social Media Round Up
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2011 Fitness Trends by Jayne Nicholls
Group exercise in 2011 continues to evolve, making it a more powerful, acceptable and respected method of fitness training for all demographics. Since the Les Mills explosion, teaching group exercise has become a coveted role for both men and women. Plus it has welcomed gym staff and personal trainers into the studio via a concept that they can easily grasp and feel comfortable teaching. Group X has now successfully lost its “lycra & leg warmers” image in favour of a more stable and macho persona.
For the past three years, the fitness trends predicted by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) have shown little variance in key concepts such as obesity, baby boomers, children, personal training, functional fitness & strength training; all modalities that are as successfully practiced in the studio as in the gym. Nevertheless, the most popular trends have tended to depend on new pieces of equipment, variety and media attention rather than on evidence-based information such as core stability & Pilates.
“The most surprising findings, experts say, are the trends that have fallen off the list for 2011 – balance training, stability balls and Pilates. Pilates suffered the worst fall, disappearing after a ninth place ranking in 2010.
“It appears from this survey that Pilates may not have been a trend at all but may be considered a fad in the health and fitness industry,” said author Walter R. Thompson in ACSM’s annual survey. “Next year’s survey will either embrace Pilates as a trend or will answer this question.”
The result of this stability in key trends is that Group X Instructors can focus on becoming specialists in their chosen fields. They can take their education further making them more vocationally competent rather than chasing the next new piece of equipment or fitness fad.
Alongside the predictions of our industry benchmark, we are faced with social and economic factors that influence the popularity of group-based exercise sessions. The UK club chains visibly panicked in 2010 due to a cessation in new builds and the resulting loss of income from “new members,” which was a reliable and steady subsidy for existing clubs during their previous growth years. Thus their key focus has been on cost cutting which has undoubtedly alienated the fee-paying member and self employed staff such as instructors, both who have begun to look elsewhere for their long-term fitness needs.
The result is great emerging markets for entrepreneurial fitness professionals who are ready to capitalize on the general public’s need for a friendly face, great customer service and value for money. An area often overlooked and underestimated is “community-based fitness,” where qualified instructors rent space and professionally market their own sessions locally via websites, social media, door-to-door flyers, and word of mouth. This option is perfect for instructors who do not have the capital to set up a studio space, but do not want to work in club chains who have cut both pay rates and timetables, making it untenable to remain loyal and earn a satisfactory income.
The rapid rise of Zumba proves without argument that the “fun factor” plays a huge part in the success of group exercise. This class has enticed the exact demographic that result-based fitness has overlooked and that Pilates now fails to pull in. These are the women who consistently fail to adhere to the rigorous requirements for fat loss and fitness, but enjoy the social side of exercise with the “feel good” factor thrown in.
One of the ACSM’s emerging trends is bootcamp, which favours outdoor space and results-driven training. It has proven to pull clients from all age groups eager to get sweaty and dirty, which is a far cry from the luxury of health clubs and spas. Serious bootcamp instructors learned quickly that cold weather and public lethargy could easily spell the demise of this type of training, so they vigorously marketed “the results” while tying their clients into long-term pay schemes and direct debits, previously unheard of in community-based fitness notorious for “pay-as-you-go” rates.
Although very different methods of training, both Zumba and bootcamps have seriously confronted the dumbed down “any size fits all” approach to exercise prescribed over the past 10 years in formatted group classes. Zumba is what it is, with fun at the forefront and fitness benefits a happy second. In bootcamps, you are a beginner or intermediate only until you prove to be advanced. Gone is the softly, softly, slowly, carefully and gently approach and the modifications that hold back a client’s optimal exercise performance. This is indeed a great step forward and one that encourages our clients’ acceptance of their own abilities, likes, and dislikes. These classes promote “ownership” of exercise by the participant–a concept that has previously been more pertinent to the gym goer than group exercise participant.
Fitness professionals who have the means and the business acumen to move even further forward have seen the potential in small studios and theme specific spaces such as yoga. There is a huge rise in private and even “pop-up” fitness studios that target small classes and specialized equipment such as Gravity & Cross Fit. These small spaces thrive on their commitment to their clients and the community spirit.
Number 1 on the ACSM list of industry trends consecutively since it began 5 years ago has been the public’s need to employ qualified, certified professionals:
1. Educated and experienced fitness professionals. Due to increases in the number of organizations offering health and fitness certifications, it’s important that consumers choose professionals certified through programs that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, such as those offered by ACSM.
Right now the industry recognizes qualifications, but the general public remain ignorant to the difference between a well-qualified and a charming instructor. There is a significant difference between instructors who constantly update and those who are successful due to their popularity in their long-term workplace. There is still no successful means for the general public to determine someone informed in their job, especially when the media consistently focus on newsworthy fads rather than evidence-based fitness. This remains the Achilles heel of our industry.
That said, as group exercise formats become more specialized, we find ourselves continuously having to back up our prescriptions with evidence. It is evident that the more informed we become, the more diverse are our opportunities and the more possibilities we have for success. We can only make use of what the industry has to offer if we qualify specifically and accordingly within industry standards, then progress our knowledge as exercise science progresses.
All in all, group fitness is a great place to be in 2011!
Growing your list
Over on my Get Organised group 100 Instructors wrote down their goals for 2011. Nearly everyone said they would like to develop a passive income stream that works with their off line Business (perhaps not in those words) Many Instructors dream of starting a membership site, or selling workout downloads online but where do you start. The first thing to do is start to grow your list. Your database or list is your lifeline and is the key to developing an online business whatever it may be
You must begin today, growing a list of people to whom you regularly share your expertise with.
Firstly, you need 150 people you communicate to regularly. You then need to grow that list to 1500 and then to 15,000. Be careful though, simply growing the list volume is not the key. It’s about people who know you and care about what you say. Internet marketers with 150,000 strangers they send unsolicited email to is not the goal. Brilliant Fitness Marketers who have super successful online businesses, help people on their lists with free information, support, help and advice they build relationships with the people their lists which I feel is where many Internet Gurus fall down. There is no relationship, it’s plain to see they have no interest with the people they mail.
Fitness is a people business and that needs to be reflected in your online business however small it is right now. If you want to grow then be yourself, be genuine and promote that aspect.
The two simple ways to get people on your list:
People swap their contact details for a high value learning gift (eg. They download an eBook from your site or a free download workout or a free class pass or a 10minute phone coaching call).
People give you their contact details after listening to you speak live or teach, via webinar or through some video cast (eg. You tube).
When you grow your list from these genuine touch points your list is educated, engaged and likely to come to your invitations and do something with an open mind.
Four keys to growing your list:
Keep creating fans. You don’t own subscribers and people always move in and out of your world. Always grow your list. Don’t be offended if people unsubscribe. You don’t want to be sending newsletters to someone who isn’t interested.
Seed value all the time. Send out high quality communications with rich, usable content.
Be consistent. If you say your newsletter comes out every Thursday then make sure it does.
Stay on message. Don’t communicate whimsically about your Uncle Luigi’s gout because it’s on your mind. Stay on message.
And a bonus thought…
Most of all, have fun honouring the relationship. I can remember a time 10 years ago when we all dreamed about and wished you could make a living thinking, writing and sharing what you know. Now you can! Enjoy growing your list and enjoying writing articles and newsletter it really shows in your writing when you clearly enjoy sharing and helping others.
Your Marketing Message – THINK before you update your Facebook status, Tweet or send an email newsletter
Weather you think about it or give it that much thought everything you write on Facebook or Twitter is shouting and promoting your personal brand. So the next time you update your status or tweet on Twitter or send your newsletter out think about it carefully. Your marketing message is the bridge that connects your business to the outside world. Even on your busiest, craziest day, you must filter out the madness happening behind the scenes and deliver your message in a clear, compelling way that gets results.
So how can you do this in a quick and easy way? The next time you sit down to craft your next marketing message — whether it’s for an email broadcast, a tweet, Facebook update a video, ask yourself these FOUR questions.
QUESTION 1: “Who is your audience?”
Have you ever heard of a business owner who didn’t want everyone to love their product? Even when we know we should have a target market, it’s tempting to want to cater to the masses and eventually win them over. But usually when you try to please them all, you end up engaging no one — and this rings especially true when it comes to marketing copy.
Before you write down a word, you should know WHO your audience is. Many writers, dancers, singers, and actors — those in expressive, creative fields — are often advised to zero-in on one person in the audience and perform for that individual. That way, you know you’re connecting with one person, and there’s a good chance others will perk up for your message as well. Try this exercise for yourself and see how much it helps.
QUESTION 2: “What do they want?”
Once you’ve got an image or idea of that one person reading your marketing message, try to think of what they need. And think outside of your product on this one ;). If it’s Monday, maybe they’ve got the post weekend blues and need some inspiration. A new mum might need a laugh. Think of all types of needs that this person might have, like assurance, relief, hope, fun, connection, to name just a few.
Don’t limit yourself. Even just having a few different needs of your audience floating around in your head while you write will help.
QUESTION 3: “How can you meet their needs?”
Brainstorming potential needs of your target market can make it easy to come up with your “angle” — the decisive way in which you’ll appeal to your audience.
From a marketing perspective, you want to be able to match your audience’s needs with your product/services/classes. But if you can’t set up a perfect match, it’s okay — just be sure to satisfy the need. So, if you like the idea of offering a little inspiration to your readers in your Monday morning broadcast, be sure to deliver inspiration.
QUESTION 4: “What next step do you want them to take?”
It’s funny how many people forget to make this part clear in their marketing messages. As much as you want your readers to opt-in to your ezine, become a fan on Facebook, attend your class and buy your product, you MUST focus on only ONE “call-to-action”!
Good luck with your writing and make sure your personality shines though on all of your marketing messages!
Opening my Own Studio by Emma Colsey-Nicholls
So Rachel asked me to write a short article on my experiences of opening my own fitness studio.
I had been teaching fitness for approximately 6 years and have taught a wide range of classes, the usual; Body Pump, Body Combat, Spinning, Fitness Pilates, Aerobics and Step. Well let’s just say most things, including Fitness Pole Dancing.
It was always my big dream to open my own studio, but at 28 years old I imagined it to be a few years off, especially as I was 8 months pregnant when I had to make the decision to go on my own.
One of the hardest parts was locating a good size venue with reasonable rent. Once that was found, the battle I encountered with the Council regarding the Change of Use began. The Council point blank refused to grant the Change of Use for the premises to a leisure facility at first, but each time my application was rejected, I presented the Council with more information and supporting evidence. In the end they accepted my proposal; the Council then had no reason to prevent the Change of Use. After approximately 4 months negotiating with the Council, permission was granted for 3 years, where after I will re-apply again. It is not ideal but I believe the compromise was worth it. The conditions of the permission include those stating I am not permitted to open during the day due to traffic problems, but I accepted the conditions for the short term and will look at addressing this in the future. The most important thing to me at this time was to get my business up and running.
It was during this time I gave birth to my first son Clayton on the 24th July 2010, just to add to the excitement of it all.
Once the permission was granted and the lease signed, I moved onto the arduous task of renovating the premises. My goal was to have 2 studios; one for general fitness and one pole studio. I was very lucky be able to get a loan from the bank of Mum and Dad and had some of my own personal savings. The cost of the renovation was approximately £13k.
It took approximately 4 months to complete the work and make the necessary changes to open the facility. It didn’t all go smoothly though, as we had 2 lots of burst pipes causing pretty bad flooding, which delayed the progress and caused the stress levels to rise just a little. I just felt lucky that it happened early on when the unit was empty so not too much damage was caused.
On the 15th January 2011 I held my official launch and incorporated raising funds for charity at this event. I gave free taster sessions and auctioned a signed football t-shirt which, along with donations from friends and clients, raised funds I donated to our local children’s charity Brian House. This not only showed commitment to the local community and charities in the area, but also provided good advertisement and opportunities for potential clients to try the taster sessions I held.
My baby son Clayton is now 7 months old, and looking back I don’t quite know how I did it. I have had great support from family especially my husband, and a fab bunch of clients who have stuck with me despite having temporary pole and Bootcamp sessions in a room above a pub.
I have since increased my client base and now have 54 pay monthly members and lots more staying on pay as you go.
I know I still have a lot to learn about running my own fitness business on a slightly larger scale, and I often feel a little overwhelmed about my next move and how I can improve.
One of the saving graces for me on the administration side, as well as getting a bookkeeper, has been the use of bookwhen. This is a service which allows clients to book classes online and saves a lot of admin time at my end and is also cheap at £12 per month. Although I offer this payment service, clients also have the option to pay cash directly to me. It is a system that is working for me so far; here is the link if it may interest you.
I feel this is an enormous achievement for me, for as well as being a new mum and a manager of a studio, I am still an instructor; I currently teach 3 evenings a week and Saturday mornings (12 classes a week inclusive of a bootcamp). To help with the ever growing demand, I have employed one pole instructor and have another in training, and I also have 7 instructors teaching various classes on a freelance basis, and 2 part time receptionists.
Turnover is increasing each month and I receive an equivalent wage to pre-pregnancy, teaching approximately 21 classes a week and working every night. Yes I have a large loan to pay back and I still have to invest in equipment, but as I have only been open a couple of months, I am excited about the future and would do it all over again if I had to.
Have a Great day!
Love Rachel x
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