Maximize the effectiveness of fitness program evaluation

As on-campus recreation professionals, we understand that our students’ needs, interests, and schedules change quickly. Therefore, we must be adaptive and efficient in evaluating our fitness program.

Unfortunately, one of the hardest parts of the process is often identifying where to start.

Whether you’re trying to determine the cause of low attendance at your group fitness program, discover how to increase awareness of on-campus fitness services and offerings, or determine what new fitness offering your campus is interested in , the solutions to these burning questions are a lot easier than you might think: Keep it simple.

Here are some simple strategies I use to maximize the effectiveness of evaluating fitness programs:

1. Just ask

Early in my campus recreation career, I made the crucial mistake of thinking it was my job to tell attendees what was best for them.

It wasn’t until my brilliant exploits received less than stellar attendance that I began to take the guesswork out of it and go straight to the source.

I took the time to call, email, or candidly ask customers for feedback on fitness offerings. This allowed me to meet their programming needs effectively and efficiently.

To better understand, I ask questions such as:

  • What prompted you to attend?
  • How can we help you increase your attendance frequency?
  • What kinds of programming would you like to see more of?
  • What kinds of programming would you like to see less of?

2. Consider switching brands

Low attendance at a fitness offering doesn’t always mean it’s time to put the program on hold. Many times rebranding is all you need.

In partnership with your department’s marketing team, you can develop creative ways to reinvent an existing fitness offering.

For example, at a previous institution, when attendance at a popular bootcamp-style training course called WAR began to decline, we simply incorporated new equipment – ​​e.g. kettlebells – into the classroom and renamed the course Kettlebell Bootcamp instead.

This simple branding tweak instantly increased our attendance and rejuvenated the offering.

3. Meet your people where they are

When I started in my current position as Assistant Director of Fitness at Florida International University, one of my first priorities was to research unique ways to raise awareness of our fitness programs and services.

I was hoping that increased awareness would bring new faces to our recreation center.

I quickly noticed that students weren’t flocking to our promotional events in the Rec Center, so I decided to reach out to them.

By scheduling short group fitness classes at various locations on campus, we were able to engage with campus like never before. This increased engagement has also translated into new participants.

ADDITIONAL CREDIT: University of Montana Campus Recreation offers GrizGo, a contextual fitness program tailored to individual groups.

As you can see, the most effective solutions to the challenges I’ve faced are often the simplest and most cost effective.

By learning to appreciate the value of simplicity in evaluating fitness programs, we have the ability to stop thinking about the problems we recognize in our fitness offerings and start solving them.

Join Brittany Baldwin on May 30 at 3 p.m. for an in-depth webinar on this topic. Register here.

Sara H. Byrd