Traditionally, when gym owners are looking to increase revenue, a number of options come to mind. Personal training and nutrition coaching are a couple of the usual suspects. Today, we’re talking about another lucrative and fulfilling option for your gym: A youth fitness program.
While revenue is obviously a considerable perk, the fulfillment comes from changing lives from an early stage. First, you’re introducing a healthy lifestyle to the next generation. Second, you’re giving kids confidence as they grow into their teen years.
Nobody knows this better than Jeff and Mikki Martin, who founded CrossFit Kids in 2004. Their flourishing youth program helped more than 100 kids break state and national weightlifting and powerlifting records.
They eventually rebranded to The Brand X Method, now the world leader in youth fitness. Together, the two have devoted their lives to helping kids and teens through health and fitness.
So how can you build a successful youth fitness program in your gym? The Martins shared five key components to get you started.
Five Keys to Building a Thriving Youth Fitness Program.
1. Treat it Like a Business.
It’s imperative that you view a youth fitness program as a legitimate revenue stream for your business. Failing to do so is one of the mistakes the Martins say they see most often.
When gym owners set their prices too low, parents don’t take the program seriously. Instead of it being a valuable tool for their child’s health, they view it as just a sporadic event.
On the other hand, when the program is priced accurately, parents see the value in the investment. And therefore, kids show up and participate. The Martins said it’s as simple as taking your youth program as seriously as you do your adult programs.
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2. Educate Yourself.
“This should go without saying, but we often see people start up a youth program with no training in actually how to train youth,” Jeff said.
He explained that just because your team knows how to coach a squat or a press, it’s not as simple for youth.
“Youth are a whole other animal,” Jeff said. Not necessarily physically, but emotionally, socially and mentally. And all of these things are critical to coaching kids and teens. All of these elements are part of The Brand X Method professional youth coach certification.
“Education is the basis or success, not just in the actual training of children,” he said. “But also the retention of our young clients and the longevity of your program. Anybody can start a program, but we have seen very few prosperous programs that don’t start here.”
3. Create a Mission Statement for Your Youth Fitness Program.
The strongest companies in the world achieve success by understanding exactly what they’re trying to accomplish. This is where creating a mission statement comes in.
Jeff recommends starting with writing down three to five sentences about your goals, intentions and vision for your youth fitness program. Then refine it into a succinct mission statement.
Not only will this help to align your staff with the mission of your program, but you’ll be able to clearly explain it to prospects.
“When a parent walks through your door, all of your staff should be able to tell them what your program is about,” said Jeff. “And how it solves (the problem) why the parent came into your gym. Make sure all of your staff can relay this to the potential customers.”
4. Create Standard Operating Procedures.
It’s important to systemize the way your youth fitness program will run, for organization and consistency. A standard operating procedure (SOP) simply helps everyone know what to do and expect.
“If a parent sees a coach writing (the workout) on the whiteboard three minutes before class, it gives them the impression that your class is an activity,” Jeff explained. “And not a well-planned program that leads their child to increase capacity and athleticism that is essential to their success.”
He continued, “Keep in mind that the customer is the parent. And everything they observe will be viewed as either showing (or not showing) the foundational importance of the program to their child.”
With that in mind, Jeff also recommends creating a “Parent SOP.” These are “just a few of the things that should be thought through and systemized,” he said. And can essentially act as a roadmap for staff to guide a parent from initial impression to signup. Here is a list of questions to include:
- What information are you looking to gather from each parent?
- How will you create the initial impression you want parents to have?
- What information do you want the parents to receive?
- Will you provide handouts with that information?
- Are there touch points for the parent as they observe the first class?
- What is the process for leading the parent to sign up after the first class?
- How do you follow up if the parent doesn't sign up?
5. Get your Gym “Youth Ready.”
“You have to make your gym kid friendly,” Jeff said.
This doesn’t mean you need to bubble wrap your equipment. But it does mean parents need to feel like kids belong in your gym. In other words, Jeff explained that you have to make it feel like your youth fitness program is “an important part of your gym’s offerings.”
What parents see when they first walk in should speak specifically to your youth program. For instance, if you post pictures on your website or gym social media, are kids included in those pictures? And does the overall language and vibe look like it’s kid-friendly or teen-friendly?
Back in the day when the Martins ran their program, they featured a variety of photos in the gym of kids working out. They also had a display case of medals and sporting achievements, plus framed letters from happy parents, acting as testimonials.
In Summary: A Youth Fitness Program Can Be Both Profitable and Fulfilling
Anytime you’re exploring additional revenue streams for your gym, a youth fitness program should be in the mix.
First, you have the opportunity to introduce kids to a healthy lifestyle increase their confidence. Second, if you treat it as a legit form of revenue, it can be incredibly lucrative as well. Make sure you and your staff are educated properly, and that everyone understands the program’s mission. Create standard operating procedures and don’t forget to make your gym “youth ready.”
Then you’re ready to launch, and enjoy the revenue and fulfillment that come with a successful youth fitness program.