gym programming

Park City Fit: How to Offer Gym Programming for Longevity

It’s Spring TRAINing at PushPress! Today, we're talking to Park City Fit about how gym programming for longevity equals better retention for your gym.

Emily Beers
April 9, 2024
Park City Fit: How to Offer Gym Programming for Longevity
It’s Spring TRAINing at PushPress! Today, we're talking to Park City Fit about how gym programming for longevity equals better retention for your gym.

It’s Spring TRAINing at PushPress! All month long, we’re talking to some of the world’s best gym programming companies. We gave them each an opportunity to pick the topic of their choice to help with the success of your business. Today, we’re talking to Park City Fit - available on PushPress Train - about programming for longevity.

CHECK THIS OUT: For a limited time, you can get 30 days of NCFIT programming FREE! Plus, try PushPress Train for 30 days FREE for new subscribers. (Offers valid through April 30, 2024).

Chris Spealler knows a thing or two about programming for longevity. He’s a seven-time CrossFit Games competitor. In addition, Spealler has owned his gym - Park City Fit - for 17 years. Incredibly, close to 70 percent of his 260 members have been with him for more than a decade. On top of that, 15 to 20 percent have been there for at least five years.

Chris Spealler Park City Fit
Chris Spealler (right) programs for longevity. (Photo credit: Park City Fit)

According to the most recent State of the Fitness Industry report, the average LEG (length of engagement) is 7.8 months. In light of that, Spealler’s gym member retention is legit.

While gym programming isn’t the only reason clients stick around, it’s a critical piece. And an important element of the programming is a focus on longevity. It’s helped Spealler in his 18-year CrossFit career, and contributes to the success of his members as well.

Four Ways Gym Programming Can Prioritize Longevity.

1. Customization in Modifications is Key.

Group training is a significant aspect of the Park City Fit community. But when it comes to longevity, Spealler says it’s about “giving people some element of customization.”

This is where his scaling philosophy comes in. For many coaches, scaling simply means a lighter barbell or decreased rep range. But Spealler believes it’s important to consider whether the movement is even appropriate for each member.

“So instead of saying, ‘Okay, let’s do a snatch with a PVC,’ we’ll consider, ‘Hey, what movement is best for you?’” he explained. “Instead of just using a lighter weight, what can we do to make this a better experience for you?”

According to Spealler, the key is having a coaching team that understands this philosophy. By communicating it clearly to members, they can map the appropriate journey. And that’s how you keep members for the long term and increase gym retention numbers.

2. Offering the Right Membership Options.

To further the customized philosophy, Park City Fit offers three different membership levels. Spealler recognizes that some athletes just want group training. So Park City Fit has a basic “Group Classes” membership. The “Elevated” membership is predominantly group training with some customized gym programming mixed in.

And for those who want individualized coaching, he offers the RaHD (Radical Human Development) membership for $1,500/mo.

A RaHD membership involves comprehensive coaching for all aspects of the members life. RaHD is a highly-individualized program. It includes things like fitness, nutrition, wellness and accountability. It can even include recommendations like saunas and cold plunges.

Individualized gym programming
Chris Spealler (right) offers RaHD individualized gym programming. (Photo credit: Park City Fit)

“In a perfect world, all my clients would be RaHD clients,” Spealler said. He believes the plan allows coaches to make the biggest impact with each individual client.

“Everything is funneled down from RaHD,” he said. “The concept being to give everybody some kind of custom experience, but it’s up to them how deep they want to go with that.”

3. Prescribing the Right Level of Intensity.

Spealler explained that managing the level of intensity in gym programming is crucial for longevity.

“Yes, intensity is good,” he said. “But at the right time, the right place and with the right allocation.”

He then explained that it’s done “sneakily” at Park City Fit. Two days per week are designed to be intense, but also includes a lower-intensity option. Another day focuses on heavy lifting. Strength and accessory work only gives members a break from metabolic conditioning. A fourth day involves no load at all, while a fifth is a longer, low-intensity workout. Finally, a sixth day generally has some degree of intensity with things like sled drags or carries.

“This mitigates the intensity a little bit,” said Spealler. “So if you look at six days of programming, there are three days that don’t feel like high intensity at all.”

4. Helping Members Recognize Training Purpose.

Spealler said the final key to gym programming for longevity is helping members understand their training purpose. And not only that, but helping them recognize when their purpose changes. For example, he has clients who started with him when they were 45 years old. Now, they’re 61.

“Sixty-one and forty-five are crazy different,” he explained. “You can’t expect people to do Fran in two-and-a-half minutes when they’re sixty-one. They’re far beyond this trajectory of increased loads and decreased times.”

He went on to say that it’s about increasing clients’ understanding of the purpose behind what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. He believes it’s about helping people navigate any big changes in their life. It could be stepping away from the competition floor, changing jobs or having a baby. Each one comes with a change in the client’s training purpose.

Park City Fit members focus on training purpose
Members are encouraged to focus on training purpose. (Photo credit: Park City Fit)

“All of us will go through it,” Spealler said. “We all go through these seasons in our lives, so it’s important to help them establish new goals in the next chapter of their life. Ultimately, this is what will help people continue to see the value of training and keep doing it consistently.”

In Summary: Gym Programming for Longevity Benefits Members and Your Business.

If you want to keep happy clients in your community for the long term, gym programming matters.

According to CrossFit pioneer Chris Spealler, programming for longevity is key. He believes in customizing modifications for each person’s needs and goals. Secondly, his gym offers various memberships levels, correlating to the amount of coaching they want. Thirdly, weekly programming includes varying levels of intensity. And finally, he and his team of coaches help members to understand their training focus in each stage of life.

With exceptionally-high member retention levels, Spealler is clearly doing something right. His members are able to continue achieving results and remain committed, year after year.

Emily Beers

Emily Beers is a health, fitness and nutrition writer. She has also been coaching fitness at MadLab School of Fitness in Vancouver, B.C. since 2009.

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