Wednesday, January 28, 2009

LSD Club Base Building Program at Aria Spa & Club

Yesterday I talked about our "LSD Club" at the Aria Spa and Club in Vail, Colorado and mentioned that we use it as a "frequent flyer" program to encourage students to come more often, to sign up in advance for classes, and to generally promote Spinning at the club. Here I will tell you how we manage the "mileage" and the prizes we have awarded in the past. 

Truly, this is going to sound more time consuming than it is. It's only a little busy the first week as people sign up, then it's very easy. But then again, we only have 15 bikes; it might be more challenging with full classes over 20 bikes, and a gazillion instructors - you might have to develop a more streamlined approach and get the front desk involved to record miles. (Every club is so different, aren't they?!)

We have a binder in the Spin room separated by alphabetized tabs. Students sign up by filling in the form with name, phone, email. The page is a table with these tabs across the top: Date, Time, Type of Class, # miles, Bonus Miles, Bonus reason, Instructor initials.

Endurance classes award 75 miles, all other classes are 50 miles. Bonus miles (double miles) are given for the slower time slots (for us it was our evening classes, but it should be whatever time slot has the fewest students or a new one you want to promote). We also give 100 Bonus Miles if you bring a new person to Spin class (someone who's never been to Spin at our club), and another 100 mile Bonus if that person comes 5 times (that bonus is given both to the newbie and the one who brought him/her). This is a great incentive to bring new people - and keep them coming back! I have a separate sheet for tracking new students and the instructor must initial it to make it valid.

[NB. As the director, I was the only one who could record the bonus miles for a person coming 5 times.]

By the way - the miles awarded is completely arbitrary and not based on an estimate of what they rode in class. The goal is to encourage more people to come to Endurance classes, implying that if you were to ride at this intensity (65-75%MHR) you could ride further than if you went harder. 

For every class, students simply fill in the info and the instructor initials it. They keep track of their own miles, the instructor validates it. Pretty easy.

At 4-weeks as the director I used to do a tally halfway through the program (don't know if the current director will take this time). I used an excel spreadsheet that my husband created that showed a graph of where everyone was, but if truth be told it was very time-consuming! Best to keep it simple - simply list the names and their total miles to date and post it. Do the same at the end of the program.

Here's what we gave for prizes:
Dinner for 2 at Chaps restaurant (our club is attached to a very nice hotel/restaurant - years ago they even gave me a free night at the hotel as a prize - but not anymore); massage in our spa; mani/pedi in the spa (men love this prize - big bonus points for their wives/girlfriends!); 3 months dues; 1 month dues; metabolic assessment (VO2 max test); personal training session (usually donated by me, or another trainer looking for clients); 2 bike tunes (donated by our local bike shop).

You don't have to go this fancy with prizes. Dues, a water bottle, 10-class pass, t-shirt, or other donations from members who own local businesses that they can promote (restaurants, car wash, chiropractor, etc). [Tip: For all your events, you should get to know all your members who have local businesses that you can trade-out things for! Barter is GOOD, especially in this economy!]

Here's how people won the prizes. Of course I wanted to acknowledge those who really made an effort to come often, but sometimes there are those who do try but don't have as much free time. So I devised a way to award both:
The top 5 mileage winners got their choice of prizes (first place got first choice, etc)
Then everyone who had a minimum of 750 miles (that's 2 classes per week on average, less if they did more EEZ or got bonus miles) got their name in a drawing for the remaining prizes. 

(I always wrote a rule about ties would go to the person with the most REAL miles versus bonus miles - or you could do a drawing. But we never had a tie in 7 years).

Of course, I tell people that the biggest prize, worth more than all these prizes, is increased fitness and a great aerobic base that we can now build upon in the weeks/months to come!

In the next couple of days I'll even give you some of our handouts.

EDIT: BTW, you can use this method of a "frequent flyer" program or encouragement to come more often to classes any time - it doesn't have to be just for base building (it just really works well to get people to come when they might normally resist it). For example, summer time when numbers drop or events like the Tour de France are other great ways to implement a promotion like this.


jeffdav said...

Jennifer -

I was wondering if you had ever made any posts opining about Les Mills 'RPM' program.

They are apparently thinking about rolling it out at my gym, and I have to say I'm not pleased about the prospect - choosing great music and choreographing a ride is a huge part of the fun for me. It seems like 'RPM' basically attempts to do for indoor cycling what McDonalds did for roadside restaurants - homogenize them and give people the experience of knowing what to expect, consistency, etc.

Any thoughts?
- Jeff (

Jennifer Sage said...

I personally could never do the LM RPM thing. I'm too much of a free spirit, love creating profiles, love the music aspect of it, and I have an objection to too much repetition - I even dislike playing the same song too often! I get the impression that my students appreciate the variety I give them, too.

With the RPM program, I couldn't do something like my base building program, my field tests, or the total cycling specific aspect of IDC. They claim to be cycling specific, but they frequently encourage very high rpms, which doesn't make any sense and doesn't cause the training adaptations they say (leg speed).

I also haven't eaten at a MacDonalds in over 15 years!

But, given the popularity of MacDonalds, it's obviously filling a need. So I suppose RPM is as well in the fitness market (they are certainly expanding, so something is working). Some people do like that consistency.

Just don't ask me to do it! That would be like forcing me to eat a Big Mac, double fries and super-sized coke! :0

You might ask the club to take a poll among members, explaining the big difference with this potential program, and then do some soul searching to see if this is really what they really want. Could be some skilled sales people from LM talking to them!