// Implement a nutrition program in your fitness business
By supplementing your core offering with additional products and services, you can grow your business while providing a more complete experience to members and clients. A nutrition program is a natural fit, says Sonja Falvo.
As fitness professionals, we know that obesity is a growing epidemic globally; over 7.4 million Australian adults are classified as overweight or obese1 and those figures are expected to increase by 50 per cent within five years2.
We also know that research and studies continue to conclude that 70 to 80 per cent of weight loss results come down to a person’s eating habits – the types of foods that they are eating and how frequently they eat throughout the day. In fact, many studies even conclude that exercise is not an effective strategy for long-term weight-loss if used in isolation.
So why is it that so many fitness facilities and personal trainers continue to provide only exercise? We are in the fitness industry, true enough. Some of our clients only want to improve their fitness, also true. But what about those 7.4 million adults who desperately need to lose fat?
Whether you are a passionate fitness professional who genuinely cares about the results your clients achieve, or you are a passionate business person who wants to increase your bottom line through revenue and retention (you may be both), implementing a nutritional program in your business can be a very wise move.
Health club owners and personal trainers cite not being qualified as nutritionists or dietitians as the biggest obstacle to implementing a nutrition program. As such, they can only give very general suggestions on improving an individual’s overall diet – and they would be right to do so.
However, there are other options available to you, depending on the time and/or resources you have available. Here are some options to consider:
1. Rent out space
If you have a room available in your club or studio, or somewhere that you can screen off for privacy, you could rent out the space to a qualified nutritionist or dietitian that works by appointment.
2. Create a partnership
Create a partnership with a nutritionist or dietitian to put together a weekly program that combines nutrition and exercise delivery; make very clear arrangements as to content and delivery.
3. Use online tools
Use an online meal planning and nutritional software program to deliver the nutritional needs to your clients. This can be a very cost-effective and time-efficient option that allows you to focus on your core fitness and business activities. There are a few great programs on the market, some of which also integrate with your own website, so your clients can log in from your site and even see your logo. Here are some sites to check out to get you started:
- Nutrition Complete (www.realbody.com.au – click the Industry Professionals tab)
- Metabolic Jumpstart (www.metabolicjumpstart.com)
- Get Vibrant (www.getvibrant.com.au)
Once you have chosen which method you will use to offer nutritional programs to your members/clients, you need to consider how you will implement it in your business. There are many ways that you can do this, but the most important thing is to give time and consideration to your market and identify what will work best for it. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Create a new membership/package
If you opt for an online solution, you could simply add $5 per month to an existing membership or package to create a new ‘Weight Loss Membership’. Depending on the nutrition program you use, this could see you earning a few extra dollars per month, per membership in addition to providing your clients with an extra service. If you develop a partnership with a nutritionist and offer a new type of program, you can package it into a unique membership as well. Offering group weight loss clinics or nutritional sessions will help to keep costs down, making it more accessible for clients while maximising revenue opportunities.
2. Present at point of sale
Members and clients are most excited and enthusiastic at the point of sale; you have created a vision of what you can help them achieve, so it is important to make them understand that their diet is an important aspect of achieving their goals. Let them know that for the cost of a cup of coffee (or make a similar comparison depending on cost) they can have access to (for example) hundreds of recipes, expert help, weight loss tips and advice.
3. Test the water
12-week challenges are a great way of creating excitement and momentum for your members/clients and can also prove to be very beneficial when it comes to testing out new nutritional programs. No 12-week challenge would be complete without a focus on food and nutrition, so use it as a testing ground and measure compliance, user-friendliness and results achieved by those on the program. You can package the program with personal training, or to get a true indication of the nutritional program’s results before implementing it across the board, run a 12-week nutrition-only program and let members continue with their regular training, and then measure the difference in their results. The feedback from this group can provide great testimonials for future marketing and advertising.
The financial benefits
In challenging economic times it is easy to be tempted to cut back on expenses and services and just focus on core products, which for most businesses means just offering fitness solutions. But cutting back can sometimes be detrimental to the success of a business. Consider those 7.4 million overweight or obese Australians; we are vying for their custom with every other diet product and service on the market. We need to start competing on a more level playing field – and to offer weight loss programs that include meal planning and nutritional advice – if we are to successfully grow our businesses along with our clients’ and members’ success.
The many financial benefits to be gained from implementing a nutritional program into your business include:
- Capturing a larger proportion of the weight loss market/attracting new clients
- Improved retention
- Increased referrals
- Additional revenue stream/s
- Increased front desk revenue/secondary spend.
In today’s increasingly competitive market it is important that fitness facilities and personal training studio owners recognise the importance of diversifying the products and services they offer. Implementing a nutritional program is not difficult to do, but it does require putting in the research and development hours to find the best solution for your business. This will be time well spent, helping to ensure that your business continues to thrive and stay at the forefront of the fitness industry.
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics: Overweight and Obesity in Adults Australia 2004-2005, Catalogue 4719.0, 2008.
2. World Health Organisation: The World Health Organisation warns of the rising threat of heart disease and stroke as overweight and obesity rapidly increase, News Release, September 2005.
Sonja is an internationally accomplished fitness professional with achievements spanning almost a decade. A professional speaker, author and director of Real Body Enterprises, Sonja is well-positioned to help create additional revenue streams in fitness businesses through nutritional and weight loss services. For more information, visit www.realbody.com.au.
NETWORK • SPRING 2010 • PP 16-17