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Holding an event at your facility can boost your business and establish your important role in your local community, writes personal trainer Fiona Compston.

I was recently involved in the delivery of a community event at the leisure centre where I’m employed as a personal trainer. Held as part of World Continence Week, we linked up with a local physiotherapist to provide practical workshops and assessments for members of the gym and for the general public.

The idea

In June of this year I received an email from the Continence Foundation of Australia notifying me of World Continence Week. The foundation was calling on fitness professionals to join them in providing events, classes or seminars to inform more people about the benefits of exercise for a healthy pelvic floor.

I specialise in training women aged 40 years and over, as well as seniors, so the email immediately grabbed my attention and I embraced the invitation to host an event with gusto. This was just what I needed to both boost my business and provide a community event that delivered real benefits to my demographic.

In my two decades in the fitness industry I have seen more information and education about women’s health made available, but taboos surrounding incontinence remain. I believe that events such as ours play an important role in helping to raise public awareness and empower both women and men to continue exercising while protecting their pelvic floor. The confidence boost that comes with knowing how to train without constantly worrying about rushing to the toilet mid-workout is remarkable.

The plan

Organising the event was fairly simple, thanks in large part to the wonderfully supportive attitude of the team at Willoughby Leisure Centre. Management immediately grabbed hold of my proposal and ran with it. With the valuable assistance of the facility manager, I was able to link up with a local physiotherapist, who is also a women’s pelvic floor specialist, to provide clinical advice to participants on the day of the event.

After finalising the date and itinerary, newsletters went out to all members, and marketing material was immediately printed up for distribution outside the centre.

The event

On the day of the event I conducted six 30-minute practical sessions on the gym floor for small groups of four to five people. The sessions were designed to demonstrate how to exercise safely without compromising a weak pelvic floor. Participants learnt to substitute narrow stance squats for sumo squats; to swap standing shoulder presses or bicep curls for seated versions; to perform seated kickbacks or lying overhead extensions instead of triceps pull downs; and to replace crunches with planks or suitable fitball moves.

I also compiled handouts of exercise tips and a list of safe alternative exercises for anyone suffering from a weak pelvic floor. The sessions were fully booked out for the afternoon.

After each 30-minute gym session, participants were eager to talk to the physiotherapist about pelvic floor health and the need to have the pelvic floor muscles tested at her clinical rooms.

All up, 30 people attended the sessions, leaving the facility armed with practical and helpful information. Many went on to enquire about a gym membership.

Thirty may not sound that many, but every person we can educate about exercising more safely is a win, for both them and for us, the fitness professionals that can assist them in taking their next steps. Our aim was primarily to deliver a community event that was informative, helpful, and ultimately empowered people to be more proactive about their health and wellbeing.

The business benefit

In addition to the community service the event provided, it also benefited the facility and my own PT operation. The new leads boosted my PT business by about 20%, and also generated new memberships for the centre. As a result, we will be repeating the event next year.

Another important aspect was the valuable professional connection I was able to establish with the local physiotherapist: we are now referring clients to each other, which has increased business for us both.

The success of the day highlighted just what a valuable tool community events can be for the fitness industry. Of course, they don’t need to be pelvic floor-related: any event that provides real value to participants will also work to boost your profile and consequently your client base. Such events not only increase business, but also empower more members of the public to take control of their health and fitness goals. Experience has taught me that when a client feels they ‘own’ their fitness goals, they are more likely to retain my services as their trainer – and that’s a win-win scenario.

Fiona Compston is a personal trainer with over 15 years’ industry experience. Based in Willoughby, NSW, she specialises in women’s fitness and delivers strength training classes to seniors through the NSW Health Department’s Healthy Lifestyle program.

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