The Club Operations Strategy Wheel


Programming & Education

My Core Value at WORX:
Create exercise habits through effective programs and services, graciously delivered at a great value.

Programming and Education is a key element to how you connect with your members in order to help them develop healthy and sustainable exercise habits. ​​

One thing Operators frequently get wrong with Programming and Education is with a lack of alignment to the overall brand values. The alignment is necessary as it guides you through the process of change and growth, and that’s exactly where our industry is headed right now - change and growth.

Without the alignment, it’s much more difficult to drive toward an outcome that is in line with the other functions of your business. All of your business functions need to be aligned and driven to one common goal. 

Next, it helps to develop values for each function. Work with your Programming and Education team to develop a value statement for this area. At our clubs, here is what we developed:

"Lead the release of new programming and build education that drives habits."

So how exactly does this apply to Programming and Education in 2021? Good question. 

For starters, we as Gym Operators need to re-think the programs we create for our members and how we educate them on that programming. This doesn’t only apply to our membership base; it’s almost more important for our staff members to understand a mindset that is evolving.

Where Should My Gym Focus on Programming?

One of the sub strategies for programming and education is to “lead the release of new programming and build education that drives habits.” This is something my team and I developed to redefine our own programming and education.

For example, when analyzing data provided by IHRSA, we know that 46 percent of Americans who are active or interested in being active say that being active is their No. 1 goal. That 46 percent is likely your hardcore members who already have built very healthy exercise habits.

That category of members isn’t where your focus should be for Programming and Education. It’s the next three categories that require the most focus in 2021:

  • Active Lifestyle: 46 percent
  • Mental Health: 35 percent
  • Weight Loss: 32 percent
  • Mental Acuity ranks fourth with an unstated percentage

The commonalities between the latter three motivators all revolve around mental health as it relates to creating those healthy exercise habits.

By focusing on these three categories, you’re not only helping large numbers of your member base achieve their desired results- you’re creating a model to go after potential gym members who want to be active but aren’t, and those who are deemed “inactive.”

  • Want to Be Active But Aren’t: 25 percent
  • Inactive: 9 percent

What this tells us is that 34 percent of the pie is up for grabs. There’s potential for some serious growth if you can develop a program that helps those two types of people get closer to developing those healthy habits.

Helping Members Reach Their Mental Health Goals

If we know that the majority of people surveyed are most driven by the mental health benefits of exercise, that’s clearly where we need to begin with our new Programming. The Education element is equally important for our member base as it is our staff. The implementation begins with your staff and ends with your members. 

So how do we accomplish this feat? Your staff coaches your members on how to develop those healthy habits. What this does is bond together two crucial elements to a sustainable business model - an engaged group of employees and an even more engagement group of members.

Gym Bag Readiness: Helping Your Members Do the Hard Part of Routine Building

A great place to start member Education is with habit building tactics. At WORX we teach our members how to deploy a concept called “Gym Bag Readiness,” which is intended to remove unnecessary yet foreseeable obstacles that stand in the way of developing those healthy habits. This is a play that my staff ran at WORX to much success. If it aligns with your core value, it’s a play that you and your staff can run to help your members help themselves.

For a more detailed explanation of how you can create alignment and execute this play, watch the video.

I see this concept as being more important than having a trainer or even knowing what exercises to do once you’re at the gym. If you can’t consistently get to the gym, none of that stuff matters.

Gym Bag Readiness is all about three things: “Trigger, routine, reward.”

The trigger is the commitment to creating a healthy habit.  The routine is the path you set to achieve the result. The reward is, well … whatever we want it to be.  The reward is the driver of the habit. 

When you walk away from here, I challenge you to define what your sub strategy is to execute your goals for programming and education.  This is a collaborative process you can work through with your team to help your members create healthy and sustainable fitness habits.

The Power of Helping Your Members Reframe Their Perception of Exercise

Exercise is just as mentally challenging as it is physically.  It’s important for your members to have a strong relationship with their physical routine and to execute it with a healthy mindset.  This is all rooted in how your members view exercise and their mental commitment to their fitness goals.

Getting into the gym and forming intentional habits all starts with your members' outlook on exercise.  How do they view exercise?  What even is exercise?  And how does it look in their own personal fitness practices?  Click here to learn more about how you can help your members form healthy fitness habits by reframing their view of exercise.

Using Data to Meet Your Club’s Members Where They Are

The needs of a gym member are ever changing. It’s on us as Operators to recognize those changes and to adjust our approach to best serve our members and, ultimately, our businesses.

The pandemic changed everything, and we no longer can look at anything pre-2020 and think it’s relatable now in 2021. The majority of the industry lost a year of experience and revenue. It’s hard not to jump right back into the model you previously ran to build and sustain a business.

My focus from the start of the pandemic was on how my gyms could “Bounce Back” once my state began to open back up. I dove deep into the data and also the feedback I was able to gather from my members. 

Lastly, you should be gathering member feedback to check in on how you, as the Club Operator, are performing against the intention of desired changes you should be making. 

As Operators, we’re flying blind unless we have the ability to understand the mindset of the people who are paying us money. 

As you sit here now, think about how you can effect change within your programming- a change that is practical and sustainable. Then look at how you’re equipping your staff to help your club achieve its goals. 

Programming and Education Consultation

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions about your Programming and Education. MXMetrics gives you a window into the mindset of your members. Whether you're looking for information about your members' mindsets or strategy formulation to give them the best possible experience at your gym, we’re here to help. 

Use the button below to contact an MXM expert or email me directly at


More Strategy Wheel Posts

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