Simply offering specialized fitness programs like Group X or personal training isn’t enough — you have to generate interest in your students to participate. Doing so requires proper strategies for highlighting fitness programs and making sure your students notice these offerings.
Bill Campbell, the coordinator of fitness and special programs at Morehead State University, shares his school’s best practices for highlighting fitness programs and getting students interested.
CR: What’s the best way you’re able to get students involved in fitness programs?
BC: You try to highlight your programs, obviously, and get them in front of students. And once they see it, that tends to spark their interest. For example, we do things like a “Zumbathon,” and we’ll do it out on the basketball court so if you walk in the building, you’ll see it. That gets people interested and if they’re a student, they can just jump in, even if they didn’t come to do that specifically.
Feedback is also something we listen to; we listen to what students want and are telling us all the time. They’re asking questions all the time: “Why don’t we have this? How can we get this?” Sometimes in our Group X functional fitness area, we’ll have midday or evening impromptu workouts where kids can come join in quickly in the weight room for a 30-minute or 90-minute workout. It’s a good way for students to see these classes and maybe want to get involved later on. We have traditional incentive programs in which I try to get our corporate fitness interns involved to create a program that highlights the whole facility. It’s about highlighting whatever you’re trying to get students involved in.
CR: Once students are involved, how do you keep them coming back?
BC: Whatever you get them in your rec center for, try to keep those same programs or at least something similar right afterward. That way if you get them to participate, you’re able to encourage them to stick around because you’re going to run another program they’ll like. Hopefully you’ll have something right after whatever program you have to keep them involved and interested.
It also helps to bring a friend to personal training, and we’ve done that before — for one day, if a student has a personal trainer they can, for free, bring a friend for a partner workout session. It’s always important to get students getting each other involved.
CR: Do you have any other tips for other rec centers for increasing fitness participation?
BC: Always listen to feedback. If you’re listening to your students, you’ll get them what they want and need — they’re always telling you what they’d like to see. Obviously, if you do a broader pool of information from a survey, for example, you’ll probably catch the normal answers, but you might also get some surprises. So listen to the population you have, and you’ll bring in other people too. Also try to highlight what your rec center is doing well. We’re trying to make a better effort by switching over to Fusion — a new operating software — and we’re excited to launch the app. I think it’s going to help us be more user-friendly for everybody — students and community. Now they can really get engaged with what programs we’re offering and we can highlight what we’ve got going on. But most importantly, listen to who’s coming into your rec center and try to accommodate them the best you can.