Fitness boot camps continue to be one of the fastest growing fitness trends... and they are likely here to stick around. Here's our reality as boot camp owners: we are probably no longer the only gig in town, there will always be a new DVD set or gadget to 'replace' us for a lot cheaper, and trendy new classes will continue to hype their way into local gyms.

How confident are you as a boot camp owner that you can stand against your growing competition?

If you have not read Seth Godin's Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, I suggest that you add it to the top of your reading list. Here is an excerpt from the inside cover to give you a quick overview and hopefully get you thinking before I share a few simple ways to keep your boot camps truly unique:

"Cows, after you've seen one or two or ten, are boring. A Purple Cow, though... now that would be something. Purple Cow describes something phenomenal, something counterintuitive and exciting and flat out unbelievable. Every day, consumers come face-to-face with a lot of boring stuff -- a lot of brown cows -- but you can bet they won't forget a Purple Cow. And it's not a marketing function that you can slap onto your product or service. Purple Cow is inherent. It's built right in or it's not there. Period."

Your potential client has more options than ever to lose weight and get fit; what makes your boot camp truly remarkable to make them choose you?

Creating your"Purple Cow" as a boot camp owner should revolve entirely around member experience. You must offer a remarkable experience second to none in order to keep your boot camp relevant for both your members and to keeping you as a leader above your competition.

Retain your clients for life and bring new loyal fans into your fold with these few suggestions. Always think of how you can create your "Purple Cow" and create something truly remarkable for your members.

Your program can never become stagnant or too predictable. They can go to a typical gym class for that.

A simple tactic that can add value to your boot camp (at no cost!) is to theme your weekly workouts; this gives your group a sense of predictability and a specific focus without taking out the critical element of change. The topics you can use are limitless, from training methods to motivational themes.

We focused a week on heart rate training in February since it was National Heart Month. At the end of each workout, we gave our clients tips on effective heart rate training, how to use the rate of perceived exertion during their workouts and how to use a heart rate monitor. My email newsletter that week also shared a true story of a woman in our community -- a 49-year-old 'healthy' marathon runner who had a sudden heart attack. We empowered our members with valuable knowledge and assured them that we are looking out for them... and in turn, the response was overwhelming. A Purple Cow.

Another way to keep your boot camps fresh is to throw in week-long 'clinics' to introduce new equipment and techniques (you can't just flip tires and run circuits all year-round!). You can hire a specialized trainer or utilize the talents of one of your team members to lead the clinic (Kettlebells, TRX, Kickboxing, Running and Yoga are a few of the clinics we've offered with great feedback). This is a perfect opportunity to change the pace for your current members, attract new members and ensure that your clients learn proper, safe form.

Create a yearly calendar to include two to four annual "signature fitness events" that create a buzz among your members and in your community. These "events" work well in six-week, 21-day and seasonal timeframes, especially if you add in an element of competition. Give away a year of boot camp or a makeover with a local salon. Each year, up the ante and make it bigger and better! Encourage members to bring a friend to hold each other accountable or give away a "boot camp scholarship" to someone nominated by your members who may not be able to afford your boot camp or hasn't taken the time for themselves. You can also take advantage of these special events as a time to "beta-test" new services or features to your program and follow up with a survey of your members to get feedback about what works long-term and what doesn't.

Give them more than workouts and meal plans... be the Harley-Davidson of fitness.

Study any successful business brand and the basic formula for its success is simple: a remarkable product or service that evokes a lifestyle and a community, not just a business transaction. Think Harley-Davidson, Apple or Starbucks; they sell more than motorcycles, computers and coffee. Buying a Harley is more than just buying a motorcycle; the buyer buys into the Harley lifestyle, and becoming part of this exclusive lifestyle gives the buyer a sense of belonging to something bigger than himself.

Is your boot camp just an exercise program or are you offering a lifestyle and a community for your clients that makes you the Harley-Davidson among your boot camp competition? Your members all want to belong to something bigger, something that matters.

To create the lifestyle that is inherent to your company, you have to think beyond the boundaries of your workouts. We know Facebook is an incredibly powerful social tool to create community and promote your boot camp, but have you thought of offering an online membership site exclusive to your members? This platform creates invaluable conversation, connection and community-building between trainer-and-member and among your members any time of day (checkout membership sites or for relatively inexpensive options). Encourage them to post their questions, accomplishments and even their frustrations to your member forum and you can post your answer and have other members or other team members respond as well. Powerful community-building. A Purple Cow.

There are countless services you can offer at little or no monetary cost -- monthly grocery store tours for small groups and expert interviews or Q&A coaching calls are incredibly valuable to your members' overall experiences. Use technologies like to schedule teleseminars for groups from two to 200, and for a nominal fee, record the calls and offer the recording to future members as part of your membership bonus package (so you're leveraging your time, too!).

Look to team-up with local businesses that have a service or product that is of value to your clients. Last spring, we held a private breakfast event at a local running store where members received gait and running analysis for custom-fit workout shoes and received a discount on their purchases. It cost nothing but an email blast to our members and a Saturday morning, and the event was a win-win for the running store (that had a ton of sales before they even opened the store!), promotion for the local restaurant that donated our healthy breakfast, and most importantly, made our members feel as though they were part of something exclusive and special. These are the types of "Purple Cow" member experiences that I can almost guarantee won't be found at the local gym.

Community involvement is always an investment that pays itself back multifold. Pick a charity or organization that hits home with your members and offer a charity boot camp or partner with the local elementary school's PTA and offer a "Family Fitness Night."

Be the Purple Cow among the other brown cows of fitness. What makes you and what you offer your members truly remarkable? Approach all you do with a giving spirit and you will change many, many lives. Truly remarkable.

Is your boot camp a Purple Cow?

Lindsay Vastola, CFT is the Founder and President of Body Project Fitness, specializing in remarkable fitness boot camps and life-changing fitness programs located in central New Jersey. Contact Lindsay at 609-336-0108,, or visit


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