Summer weather presents a great opportunity to host an outdoor fitness boot camp. Boot camp training is incredibly popular, seeing growth rates close to 40% over the past 10 years. It’s also a great way to bring in extra cash to your fitness business. Before starting your own boot camp, there are six key things you need to take into consideration.
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1). Location Permits and Costs
Using parks as a free space to host workouts is one of most appealing aspects of hosting an outdoor boot camp. However, many cities around the U.S. have started requiring permits and charging fees for groups hosting workouts in parks and open spaces. For example, the city of Denver requires a permit and charges workout classes as small as one, member fees that range from $100 to $300 for a six-month period. If you’re thinking about hosting a boot camp outside of your brick and mortar location, make sure you explore the website of your city’s Parks and Recreation department to find out:
- If outdoor workouts are allowed in the public space
- Whether or not a permit is required to host group classes
- How much it will cost (if anything) to use the space
The sooner you start this research process, the better. Many times it can takes weeks or even months for a permit to get approved.
Getting people outside to workout in the warm weather can be a great way to combat attendance seasonality in the summer months. While getting outdoors is beneficial for member engagement, getting equipment to the offsite location can pose issues. Something as small as 10-pound dumbbells adds up quickly, even for small classes.
“Boot camps are portable in nature, and the equipment you choose needs to reflect this,” states IDEA Health & Fitness Association. They recommend finding equipment that is simple, lightweight and versatile, and that instructors focus on exercises that utilize a participant’s body weight. Solid equipment-free movements include push-ups, jumps (star jumps, tuck jumps, box jumps utilizing a bench or ledge, jumping jacks, broad jumps, etc.), squats, planks, sit-ups, running and sprints. When searching for lightweight, mobile equipment for your boot camp, consider purchasing:
- Agility ladders
- Jump ropes
- Ab rollers
- Yoga mats
- Resistance bands
- Two to five heavy medicine balls
Making sure you’re covered to teach a boot camp is an essential step of your planning process. If you currently own a fitness business, check with your insurance provider ensure you will be covered under your current policy to host an offsite group class. If a boot camp is the first step in your plan towards starting a fitness business, meet with an insurance agent to see what type coverage you’ll need. Fitness instructor insurance is fairly inexpensive, and runs around $175 for 12 months of coverage. Don’t forget to create a waiver to protect you against being held liable for any injuries that might happen during your boot camp.
4). Administrative Management
By taking your boot camp outdoors, you unfortunately won’t forgo the administrative tasks associated with hosting workout classes. Liability waivers are a must for any group workout class. A method of collecting check-in’s and tracking attendance is necessary for charging proper fees. Make sure you have a system in place to keep track of important documents like waivers and contracts, as well as a solid way to track attendance. Having this process organized and established before classes start will save significant time in the long run. Using a member management software that includes an app for checking members in and collecting digital signatures saves the hassle of keeping track of loose papers. These can easily be used outside of your gym by purchasing a mi-fi or using the mobile hotspot feature on your smart phone.
5). Additional Fees
If you currently own a fitness business, will boot camp classes replace existing classes on your schedule or will they be added in addition to the current programming? Considering that you’ll likely have to purchase additional equipment, your instructors will need go offsite for the classes and you’ll possibly pay permit and usage fees, you will need to analyze these expenses to determine whether or not it makes sense to charge additional fees for your current members to participate in boot camp program.
Worried about your members having negative reactions to an additional cost for the boot camp on top of their regular membership? Make sure you emphasize that the boot camp is not just another class, rather it’s an intensive program that is run over a targeted period of time and attendance is required in order to see results. Helping them realize that these workouts are not just another class can help justify costs and ensure regular participation. You don’t want to lug equipment to an offsite location with the risk of only having two participants. Having an extra cost can help motivate people to show up for each session, rather than just occasionally.
Word of mouth will only get you so far when promoting your boot camp. While you can alert your current members of the new program through in-class announcements and member emails, use your boot camp as an opportunity to reach prospective members in your area. A boot camp is a much smaller commitment than a gym membership, and could be the perfect way to get new people to try your program out. Create targeted Facebook ads and boosted posts to reach individuals that live by your gym, as well as by the park you’ll be hosting the boot camp at. Develop a landing page or webpage on your site that promotes the boot camp and contains a form for new visitors to sign up. Make sure the page is well-optimized and consider developing a small pay-per-click (PPC) program on AdWords to send folks who are searching for boot camps in the area to your page.
With the strategic planning, a boot camp is a great way to boost revenue, retain your members in the busy summer months and reach potential members in your area. Have you organized an offsite boot camp for your fitness business? Share your tips in the comment section below!
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