Creating a Group Nutrition Program
The role of the fitness professional is changing. There is a new reality of doing business within the fitness industry. How many new fitness businesses opened in your area in the last year? The trends are indicating that more fitness professionals are specializing in a niche market yet broadening their service offerings for that target market.
The old 60-minute one to one fitness programs you were currently running are soon to be extinct in favor of group workouts that are shorter in duration but more intense that come with follow along nutrition programs.
How do you evolve your client programming to keep up with the changing fitness business?
Why not offer a group nutrition program? Yes, a group nutrition program. The number one reason your clients come to you is for weight loss so how are you helping them during the other 165 hours of their week when they aren’t working out with you?
Look at the popularity of bootcamps and group fitness. We already know that to generate massive profits you need to leverage your time, energy and resources. The group model makes sound business sense. When you run group programs you get to help a lot more people in a shorter amount of time and make a lot more money doing it.
So how do you go about creating a group nutrition program if you are not a nutritionist?
Well, luckily for you, I am a Registered Holistic Nutrition who just happens to run a group weight loss program all across Canada. Before I share with you my 5 step blueprint of creating a group nutrition program I would advise that you check with your certification and state/province that you live in to make sure that offering general nutrition advice is within your scope of practice.
Step #1 – Define Program Specifics
Before you start on content creation you need to get the program specifics out of the way. The program specifics include everything from defining the length of the program to client registration and to customer service. Run through the life cycle of the program and think of every single circumstance that could arise. Create a system around it so that you can be organized and efficient. Here are some questions to get you started.
How many weeks will your program be? Will it be offered for 1 hour once per week? What space will you run it in? Who will facilitate it? What is the continuity program? How will you generate referrals from this program? What is the refund policy?
Step #2 – WHO is this program targeting?
Your WHO needs to be clearly defined before you start creating content. The content will be based on the type of clients participating in this program, not on what YOU want to focus on.
Survey your members to find out what their BIG problems are. Ask them what they want to learn about.
Understanding your client needs and wants is the most critical element to creating a long lasting profitable program. Your marketing and promotion strategies will become clear and focused once you know who you are marketing to.
Step # 3 – Content Creation
This is the fun part. You will need to create weekly content in the form of handouts or emails for your participants. Each week should ONLY focus on one thing and implement one change.
Please make sure not to overwhelm your clients. Research shows that the average person is so confused about what to eat. Food confusion has become a big problem and it’s your job to provide the solution to that problem.
Make a list of all of the possible topics you can educate on. Pick the simplest ones and put them into a logical weekly order. Create a 1-2 page handout for each topic with a goal for them to achieve that week. Remember to keep it simple!
Keep in mind that you already have all of this knowledge, generally eat clean and have quality lifestyle habits so implementing small weekly changes might not seem like a big deal to you but it is to your client. Adding in 2 cups of water per day everyday for someone who never drank water or having 2 fruits per day is a very big deal and should be celebrated. Small changes add up to a complete lifestyle transformation.
I don’t give meal plans. No one follows them. Teach your clients to fish for themselves by educating them on portion sizes, making good quality food choices and overcoming societal pressure to start again on Monday.
Here is a sample outline of a 6 week program that I’ve run before.
Week 1 – Understanding the basics. This included the reasons we need to eat clean, whole foods and the importance of eating meals and snacks. The handout was breakfast and snack suggestions.
Week 2 – Meal planning and portion sizes. Here I explained meal planning and portion size guidelines. I educated the clients on the 3 macronutrients and the proper portion sizes for each group. The handout was a food portion booklet that included pictures of foods and real life examples to demonstrate the portion size. IE a portion size of rice was 2 golf balls.
Week 3 – Food Labels 101. Focus on how to read a food label and what to look for in the ingredient list. Talk about fiber, sodium and sugar. The handout was a food label with explanations on what each category explains.
Week 4 – Grocery Shopping. This lecture stressed the importance of planning ahead and sticking to a grocery list. We talked about misleading food labels and the best brands to buy. The handout was a grocery list with brand suggestions.
Week 5 – Eating On The Go. Clients need to know how to order at restaurants and the best choices to make when eating at the cafeteria or fast food restaurants. In my experience, making quality choices is not common knowledge and common sense doesn’t apply. The handout was a list of fatty menu words and the best way to skim the fat from your favorite convenience foods.
Week 6 – Will Power and Social Pressure. Self sabotage, the fear of being made fun of and succumbing to social pressure is very real and something that deserves attention. Talk about strategies to overcome these limiting factors. The handout was positive affirmations and phrases that can be used by your clients to respond to social pressure.
Step # 4 – Pricing and Sales Process
The price of the program should depend on the length, how many people are in the group and the extra value you will provide. My group programs are 10 weeks and I charge $25 – $35 per week with a maximum of 12 people per group.
The early bird price is $250 with the regular price being $350. I offer the early bird price for 7 days.
I generate interest for my groups by offering one to two free seminars on trending nutrition and fat loss topics targeted to my niche market. I provide them with the early bird price and value added content if they register within the next 24 hours after the seminar.
I usually don’t close the seminar attendees in the group setting but there are always some people who want to register right away. I offer a FREE nutrition and body composition diagnostic and close them on a one to one basis during their consult.
Step #5 – Referrals and Lead Generation
When you change someone’s eating habits and their physical symptoms (acid reflux, headaches, constipation, low energy levels, mood stability) vanish they will be more then happy to tell everyone they know about you and the programs you offer.
Make sure you have a referral system set up where your clients can generate referrals and new leads for you. In return you must offer them something of value like free weigh-ins or free nutrition sessions.
You can also have your clients bring in a different family, friend or colleague each week to your group program. This could result in 100 new people coming through your facility in a 10-week time period.
As you can see, creating a group nutrition program does take some time and effort to create but the benefits to your clients and your profit centers are worth it. When you offer a group nutrition program you are keeping the fat loss dollars in your facility and giving your clients the education, guidance and motivation they are seeking. Best of all you are now able to set yourself apart from your competition by offering a one-stop health shop.
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Lori started her career as a personal trainer while attending Concordia University in Montreal. At the same time, she was suffering from severe stomach issues which went undiagnosed by many doctors over a two-year period. Fortunately, Lori was introduced to naturopath Dr. Shelley Averbach, who developed a Candida protocol for Lori to follow during her time away at school. Lori credits Shelley for literally “saving her life” and introducing her to the power of food.
Lori quickly established herself as an expert personal trainer and fitness program developer. She was one of six team members responsible for the build out and start up of The Pavilion, a 20,000 square foot fitness complex.
Although she was successful in her fitness management career, her passion was with food and nutrition. Lori returned to school to study holistic nutrition. While managing the nutrition department for all three locations of the Womens Fitness Clubs of Canada, fellow nutritionists and personal trainers sought out Lori’s successful weight-loss program and her advice on sales and marketing their own businesses.
While Lori’s professional career in holistic nutrition grows, she stays true to her passion. This has led her to mentor over 250 nutritionists, dietitians and personal trainers within Canada to create weight-loss programs that improve client compliancy, increase sales and better market their businesses.