As campus recreation professionals, we understand our student’s needs, interests and schedules change quickly. Therefore, we must be adaptive and effective in our fitness program evaluation.
Unfortunately, one of the most challenging parts of the process is often identifying where to start.
Whether you’re trying to determine the cause of low attendance in your group fitness programming, navigate how to increase awareness about campus fitness services and offerings, or determine what new fitness offering your campus is interested in, the solutions to these burning questions are much easier than you might expect: keep it simple.
Here are a few simple strategies I utilize to maximize effectiveness in fitness program evaluation:
1. Just Ask
In the early stages of my campus rec career, I made the crucial mistake of thinking it was my job to tell participants what was best for them.
It wasn’t until my brilliant exploits received less than stellar attendance that I began to eliminate the guess work and go straight to the source.
I took the time to call, email or candidly ask patrons for their feedback on fitness offerings. Doing so allowed me to meet their programming needs both effectively and efficiently.
To gain the most insight, I ask questions like:
- What made you attend?
- How can we help increase your attendance frequency?
- What types of programming would you like to see more of?
- What types of programming would you like to see less of?
2. Consider Rebranding
Low attendance for a fitness offering doesn’t always mean it’s time to shelf the program. Many times, rebranding is all you need.
Partnering with your department’s marketing team, you can develop creative ways to reinvent an existing fitness offering.
For example, at a previous institution, when attendance at a popular bootcamp-style training class called W.A.R. began to decline, we simply incorporated some new equipment — e.g. kettlebells — into the class and rebranded the course as Kettlebell Bootcamp instead.
This simple branding adjustment instantly increased our participation numbers and rejuvenated the offering.
3. Meet Your Population Where They Are
When I first began in my current role as assistant director of Fitness at Florida International University, one of my early priorities was seeking unique ways to increase awareness about our fitness programs and services.
My hope was that increased awareness would bring some new faces into our recreation center.
I quickly noticed the students weren’t flocking to our promotional events within the rec center, so I decided to go to them.
By scheduling short pop-up group fitness classes in various locations around campus, we were able to engage with the campus like never before. This increased engagement translated into new attendees as well.
EXTRA CREDIT: The University of Montana campus recreation offers GrizGo, a pop-up fitness program tailored to individual groups.
As you can see, the most effective solutions to the challenges I’ve faced are often the most simple and cost-effective.
By learning to appreciate the value of simplicity in fitness program evaluation, we are afforded the opportunity to stop pondering the problems we recognize in our fitness offerings and start solving them.
Join Brittany Baldwin on May 31 at 12 p.m. for an in-depth webinar on this topic. Register here.