Throughout this article I will set out the major benefits associated with running or including residential fitness boot camps for your gym members. It will include four main benefits for both you as the business owner, your gym staff/fitness instructors and, last but not least, the benefits that your clients will receive. I will also give you an easy to follow plan on how to design, implement and execute a successful 5-day fitness boot camp in an affordable, low risk and potentially high return basis.
My name is Mark Hooks and I am the owner of one of the UKs best and longest established residential fitness boot camps. Prior to setting up Reboot Dorset my whole life was spent gaining experience within the health and fitness industry. Having served with The Parachute Regiment and being employed as a physical training instructor for the British Army, I gained what I believe to be one of the best grounding qualifications the industry has to offer. Since leaving the military in 2002 I continued to obtain various other instructor qualifications as well as a BSc degree in Sports Psychology & Coaching Sciences at Bournemouth University. I have worked at all levels within the public and private sector, from class instructor through to group gym manager, for private clubs and council run establishments. I also have a vast amount of experience working with clients on a one to one level, as well as within groups, with specific experience in coaching for triathlons.
Having spent nearly 20 years learning my trade I decided to take the plunge and set up Reboot Dorset. Reboot Dorset is a 5-day residential fitness boot camp dedicated to delivering a holistic, educational and empowering service to all that attend. My main objective is to empower the individual with the knowledge and confidence they need to implement and maintain long-term healthy lifestyle changes and wellbeing. If you are looking for a short term return and not interested in the long game then this may not be for you. But if you are looking to build strong lasting relationships built on trust and respect between you, your employees and clients then this article may be advantageous for you.
1. Closer employee/customer relations – spending five days with anyone within a retreat type environment will develop strong and lasting relationships. Normally, within a typical working week, you would spend 4 – 5 hours maximum with a client or employee, and you would probably spend about 8 – 10 quality hours each week with your best friend or spouse. When setting your boot camp daily schedule it is important to ensure that it is inclusive to all in attendance, while nurturing a positive and supportive environment. It is paramount to have coping strategies in place for the negative or less than enthusiastic attendees, these can be easily drawn up and implemented. Reboot Dorset does not have a ‘them and us’ culture; the instructors eat and sleep within the same environment as the clients and participate in all the training sessions. Friendships between clients, instructors and myself that were built back in Reboot’s early years are still going strong. These may be via social media, group chats on email or physical reunions, but the bonds made almost 8 years ago are still going strong today. This is why I believe every year at Reboot Dorset we see more and more returning clients, referrals and recommendations.
2. Fast effective results – a client usually visits a gym for an hour or two up to five times per week. During this time you can prescribe exercise and offer healthy nutritious food, however, for the other 22 hours each day or 158 hours that week you have no control over what your client does. The health related changes obtained within the gym environment are limited and can be counter-productive when external gym activities (or lack thereof) are taken into account. When you have clients training, eating and sleeping within a controlled environment the results achieved can be astronomical. As a result your clients will gain a level of respect for your ability that will last for years and will produce amazing testimonials and future recommendations. Introducing a residential boot camp every 6 or 12 months will become an event to be talked about by both staff and clients, pre and post boot camp. It can encourage new members, while increasing retention of existing clients and staff allowing productivity to thrive.
3. Great opportunity to assess and develop your instructors – we all know how easy it is for an employee to pull the wool over our eyes in an interview or assessment, or for them to become the person they think we as an employer want them to be. When you spend 24 hours a day for five days with your staff it is easy to identify the leaders and those that are less than enthusiastic. It is a great opportunity to develop their skills while leading from the front and develop a team that you can be proud of – a successful team that will increase productivity while enhancing customer satisfaction.
4. Financial benefits – I have already mentioned some of the benefits associated with running a fitness boot camp for your gym; better staff and customer relations, increased productivity, improved retention and higher quality of existing services. However, if done correctly, running a residential fitness boot camp can bring in substantial profits. Reboot Dorset breaks even on a fitness boot camp at around six clients – everything on top of that is profit. As a gym owner you are in a great position as you will not require the same level of advertising costs as Reboot Dorset as you will hopefully gain the majority of your business in-house. If budgeted correctly an average boot camp could earn your gym between £2000 – £5000 pre tax profit. There are so many other benefits associated with your gym running a residential fitness boot camp that, for me, it is a no brainer.
It is important to test the water within your establishment; does your customer demographic fall within the financial bracket that can afford upwards of £500 for a five day retreat? With effective market research and planning this can be identified prior to any financial investment. The location of your boot camp is extremely important and things to bear in mind would be whether the site is idyllic and secluded, yet easily accessible. The majority of Reboot clients travel approximately two to three hours, a few will spend over eight hours getting to us and a few will visit from Europe and beyond. I have found that people local to the area do not like to run around their usual haunts where friends or acquaintances may see them in their lycra! Do not be afraid to travel a bit to find the ideal location within budget.
When putting together your weekly schedule ensure it includes lots of variety with little down time. Rest will be required between sessions but this time can be filled with nutrition, physiological, motivational and psychological workshops. Reboot Dorset starts on a Monday at 1.00pm and finishes on Friday at 1.00pm, with the other three days starting at 7.15am and concluding at 7.30pm. In the evening we offer massages at an additional cost, while our accommodation offers comfortable communal areas to relax and socialise. The dining area has one large table that allows everyone to sit around and discuss the day’s events, which is essential for group bonding.
It is important to feed your clients well; most boot camps go for low calorie, which can make the whole experience a chore. The clients wake up hungry in the night, fantasize about food throughout their boot camp days and gorge on these fantasies when they return home, making any weight loss achieved short term and difficult to maintain. Reboot delivers three hot meals and three snacks each day, staying clear of sugars and processed food. Amazing results are achieved and maintained long into the future. All the recipes used during the week are given to the clients to take home and are discussed in the relevant workshops.
You already own and run a gym so the content of the physical programme can be varied – I am sure you know what to include with this regard. I would, however, encourage you to prescribe a personal, physical three month goal for each of the attendees to complete, such as a distanced run or swim. This could be held in your gym at a date of you choice and at this point you could sell PT, classes or provide meals at your gym bringing in further income.
Well I hope that this article has been of some benefit and provoked some food for thought. I wish you all the best and hope that your staff and clients have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.