As fitness instructors we will always battle against the seasonal fitness peaks and troughs. Unfortunately there are certain times of year when people prioritise health and wellbeing over others. Therefore making our jobs harder!
I have named this problem the ‘Seasonal Fitness Disorder’, and just like a therapist we instructors have to attempt to treat it. Fitness isn’t just a lifestyle but it’s also a mindset, and there will be certain times throughout the year that prove more challenging than others for our clients.
Identifying The Patterns
The first way to tackle the problem is to identify exactly when it is occurring.
The good news is that the problematic times tend to follow a similar annual pattern.
From the overindulgence of the Easter break, to the boozy extended bank holiday weekends, right through to the Christmas shopping rush around. You can generally guarantee exactly when those client/class numbers are going to drop.
On the flip side, fitness peaks also tend to follow the same pattern each year, with the die hard New Year’s resolutions bringing in floods of new clients from early January to March. Not to mention as soon as the sun starts shining everyone starts thinking about those all important bikini bodies, breeding the culture of ‘Shredding for Summer’.
Not only can the fitness lifestyle be seasonal, but certain disciplines of group exercise classes can also prove themselves seasonal affairs.
A prime example of this would be Aqua, as the idea of plunging into a cold pool becomes much more appealing in the humid summer months than the baltic -3oc temperatures of January!
Certain indoor classes however can actually peak in the winter when the darker nights are in and people want a social escape hatch.
Creatively Combatting The Issues
As fitness instructors promoting lifestyle changes, and not temporary aesthetic improvements through yo-yo dieting, we need to creatively encourage the retention of clients all year round.
Here are a few ideas:
Reward the dedicated– Verbal praise goes a long way where retaining clients is concerned, but can you do better than a simple ‘well done, see you next week’?.
You can be creative in the way that you reward your clients’ dedication and also reward them at times when it is most difficult for them to attend. For instance, everyone who attends on bank holiday could receive a free PT session. This is a great way of getting the clients to feel you are giving them something back!
Get with the programme!– Integrating the season/holiday with your exercise classes in a fun creative way, promotes fitness whilst celebrating the seasonal/festive period. A few examples being; fitness themed Easter egg hunts, Valentines day couples hot yoga, and Christmas fitness parties.
Prepare for the decline!! – Set a goal for your clients to work towards that will keep their minds on the fitness game throughout the holiday seasons.
For example, you could get clients to sign up to a team Tough Mudder in the new year. This would give them an incentive to keep training throughout the Christmas period.
Use musical motivation- One of the most effective ways to motivate clients is through music! A well selected holiday themed album/playlist will get the clients in the mood for celebrating the season whilst giving them the benefits of working on their health and fitness.
Installing Routine In Your Clients’ Lives
As a society influenced heavily by social media and pop culture, fitness normally gets promoted as a tool for aesthetics rather than health benefits. Leading people to believe its ok to just exercise when they want to look better.
The circulatory, digestive, endocrine, muscular, nervous, renal, respiratory, skeletal, and immune system, all work 24/7 not seasonally and can be affected by poor lifestyle!
Therefore as fitness professionals we have to educate the importance of continued exercise, and install healthy routines and habits in our clients’ lives through creative motivational methods!