Kids need your help.
As more countries and states cancel recreational activities for adults and kids, gyms are stepping up to fill the gap.
When my kids’ hockey seasons were cancelled, I gave them a choice: Sign up for the Teen programs at Catalyst or ride bikes on Zwift and lift weights with dad.
Both chose Catalyst. Weird.
Kids classes, teen “leagues” and summer camps are all missing from the family routine—and they’re not eating up space in the family budget right now. You have an opportunity to fill a gap and grow your business. This is the best time to keep kids off screens and give them the tools to shape their fitness for life.
Here’s how to start a kids’ program from scratch, from Gretchen Bredemeier, Two-Brain Kids Program Mentor
I am so excited you have decided that you want a Youth Program! Here are a few tactics that will set you off on the right foot!
1. You are going to need a coach/program manager that fits a few parameters.
You are looking for a hard-working and energetic coach who is excited to create (within parameters) and who sees the long-term value of what they are doing. You need someone who communicates well with you, someone that believes in your values/mission, and someone who is willing to make mistakes, educate themselves, and try again. This person should have or develop a long-term vision for what they want and discuss it with you before you consider them as a Program Manager.
2. You need to wait until parents are asking for it.
Scarcity is always your best friend. You want few enough events that they fill up. You want to start with few enough classes that the kids and parents want more! If it’s your idea- you just want the money. If it’s their idea then you are serving your clients, doing it for their best interest. If it’s their idea then you can truly Help First! Typically, the same concept applies for adding additional classes. While it’s good to get ahead of things (plan for classes you want to start in the next year), you want to start them when clients are asking for them.
3. The best way to begin is with a 6-week session where parents pay up front.
6-week sessions are the best way to start! There are a few reasons for this. 6-weeks is a short enough time frame that parents can more easily commit, but long enough for them to see obvious results and understand the value of your program. 6-weeks is also longer than a month, which allows you to price well, because parents don’t tend to break the cost down per class, but relate the cost to “a large group of classes.” It makes good pricing easier to swallow, which sets your value from the start. 6-weeks is also usually long enough that kids will miss one or two classes. This isn’t the goal, of course, but gets parents into the habit of seeing missed classes as their responsibility and not yours. You don’t ever want to get into the habit of parents expecting a specific number of classes with their payments.
4. You need to consider the rates you’d like to charge in a year or two when you set your session rates at the beginning.
You should set your 6-week session rates based on what you’d like your program to be making once you’ve moved to a monthly membership. This first 6-weeks sets the tone, and begins to develop the culture, that you will be will for the long-haul, so you need to get ahead of as much as you can. Pricing is an easy one. Decide what you want your monthly rate to be once you are monthly and work backwards through the transitions of a 6- then 8- then 10-week session. There are lots of tricks here, but the general concept will move you solidly in the right direction.
5. Understand your partnership with parents
Bus stops are the kid-focused version of hair salons or water coolers. And you want your program to be the topic of choice! The best way to make that happen is authentic relationships with parents, and just like price you want to start from your first 6-weeks. Make time before and after class to ask your questions and field theirs. Get to know them and their kids for real. Set-up a communication system that works for your clients: Email, Facebook, Texts, Instagram… whatever works for them. And then make sure you tell them when you’ve addressed the issues, made special allowances, seen improvement in the behavior etc. Make sure they understand the things you worked on today, how that will benefit their kids, and why you chose to work on that specific thing. “I noticed that Sammy was uncomfortable in the front roll, so I chose this and that to work on vestibular development today so that as her inner ear gets the challenge it needs, she will become more comfortable in the positions that will be most helpful in creating great lifelong motor patterns.” They have to know how much you know and how much work you are putting into this and they won’t know if you don’t tell them. Encourage them to take photos and to share photos. Make a “Bright Spots Friday” tradition where parents use pictures from the week to brag on their kids. Make fun car magnets that say “My kids sport is Crossfit” so parents can be proud of what their kids are doing. Parents that know you will talk about your program at the bus stop, and they will also give you more grace as you inevitably make mistakes. Take the time for parents and you will never be sorry that you did.