Editor's note: This article is part 2 of a series outlining steps and concepts for those with the desire to tackle the youth obesity epidemic.

[Read Part 1 - Creating youth programs]

Prime hours of operation are seldom a problem. Members and clients tend to flock before and after work, often creating a log jam on equipment and facility amenities - and although potentially troublesome from an overcrowding perspective, this kind of volume usage is far from a concern for most facility purveyors.

What is an issue, however, is that dreaded down time, those times of day that your facility sits virtually empty without so much as a single penny of revenue coming in. It is the clever and industrious use of these times which often separate successful facility ownership and management from business failures.

Market Wisely
In understanding how to effectively use your down time and create revenue dollars where none exist, it is critical to appreciate market trends and industry direction. Like every other industry in the world, the fitness market is constantly changing and in flux, not only in the sense of exercise prescription and programming but in market opinions, needs and an ever-changing climate of expectations from the end user.

Independently governed cardiovascular training gave way to paid-for services such as Spinning and group fitness excursions. Casual walks through the park and other self-directed outdoor activities led to the highly profitable market of boot camps.
Stretching autonomously in order to work on flexibility and relaxation post strength training produced the need for a class-instructed version of the same - enter the incredibly vast market and mainstream popularity of yoga and Pilates.

The point is that smart business owners understand the complexity of the consumer mindset and strive to meet the expectations of their customers, if not "beat them to the punch€VbCrLf in terms of what it is they want from an amenity and programming standpoint.

One specific strategy has been identified as an important and practical avenue through which to increase your facilities' revenue during down times of operation: youth fitness initiatives.

Youth Fitness Initiatives
According to MSNBC, more than one million children and teenagers hired a personal trainer in 2006 - within the United States alone.

The youth demographic is widely considered one of the fastest-growing niches in the entire fitness industry and has been dubbed such by media publications both within and outside this market. In 2004, the Wall Street Journal reported that more than four billion dollars are spent every year on personalized training, coaching and sports participation south of the border - and while youth-based fitness and sport training franchises are exploding internationally, very few independent facilities and health clubs are tapping into this considerable new market.

The reality remains that with the emergence of youth obesity as a tragic concern and affliction in our society as well as a seemingly endless stream of young athletes looking to gain a competitive edge within their respective sports, the demand for qualified youth exercise instruction has never been higher.

The average school day lets out between 2:30-3:00 PM; this is a perfect time for facilities, from a down-time perspective. Filling your facility or a self-contained space within your facility between the hours of 3:00-4:00 PM is a perfect fit just prior to the post-workday prime hours.

Class Structure
Classes can be structured in a way that services children and teenagers of various ages throughout the week without placing the burdensome cloak over your training staff of having to manage a large group consisting of six- to 15-year-olds, all with different fitness needs and interests. A successful weekly class structure could look something like this:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Ages 6-10 Ages 11-14 Ages 15-17 Ages 6-10 Ages 11-14
3:00-4:00 PM 3:00-4:00 PM 3:00-4:00 PM 3:00-4:00 PM 3:00-4:00 PM

*Through my own experiences of running youth-based programs and facilities, the age range of six to 14 contains the most potential of clientele. Although teenagers are certainly a viable demographic, I have had more success in creating fitness programs for younger children from an interest and regular attendance standpoint.

The suggested schedule above separates your classes from an age perspective and provides a natural cut-off point so that your training staff and the kids never feel as though they are working in group settings that do not reflect an appropriate age-related split.

Financial Boon
On average, a reasonable fee to charge per class would be in the range of $15 to $25, depending on the economics of your demographic.

Via active promotion in your community and through your current membership base, you may be very surprised to see how quickly generating 10 to 20 young clients per class will be. I have found that parents are absolutely ecstatic to learn of new fitness initiatives created for their children.
At 10 young clients per class each paying a $20 fee at five classes per week in total, your facility will gain an additional $4,000 per month or roughly $48,000 annually.

It is important for club and facility owners to think outside the box when considering additional revenue generators for their businesses.

Understanding market trends, using your down time effectively and opening up to a new and virtually untapped demographic may be just what's needed for business owners to establish the success they have been looking for.

Brian Grasso is the Founder and CEO of the International Youth Conditioning Association. Become a certified Youth Fitness Specialist or learn about the specific aspects of training children, youths and teens for free by visiting www.IYCA.org.


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