The #1 Problem in the Fitness Industry

Hey Fitness Pros,

I just returned from the IDEA Personal Training summit in Washington DC.  It was a fabulous event and the attendees were awesome!

I was fortunate enough to attend TRX Education Director Fraser Quelch’s session “Changing the Game”.  The content is one that all Fitness Pros need to be aware of and take action on immediately!

The basic concept of the session was that the fitness industry is seriously broken. Consider these stats…

  • Only 17% of our entire population owns a gym membership
  • Of that 17%, only 10% of these gym members, actually use their membership once per week or more

So what that means is that we are positively impacting only 2% of our entire population.  Ouch!  That’s not a lot and definitely not enough.  Obesity levels continue to rise.  Health issues are out of control. And we can’t figure out how to motivate people to participate in our services so that we can actually help them!

Fortunately, Mr. Quelch didn’t leave us completely hopeless. He believes the biggest solution to our problem is that we have to make exercise enjoyable. We’ve got to bring the play and the fun factor into our programs.

Making Exercise Fun

Having fun with Duck, Duck Goose

Good news because I actually taught a workshop at the conference this weekend as well titled “Clients & Trainers that Play Together, Stay Together”.  I also talked about the importance of getting clients laughing, fostering the development of friendships and creating an exercise experience that your clients actually look forward to.

Just last week, I took a group of 18 year old girls through a 1.5 hour workout filled with fun games and drills. It was a tough session but the whole time they were laughing and having fun and they couldn’t believe time had passed so quickly when we were done. So it’s important to remember that exercise can have a purpose and address an important fitness component like aerobic or anaerobic cardio, muscle strength and endurance, balance, agility, reaction time and more but ideally disguised with a lot of fun!

Making Exercise Fun

Fitness Huddle Tag

Here’s some fun ideas to incorporate into your workouts with clients, in small groups or in exercise or bootcamp classes.

  • Tug of War – Clients can either stand on a BOSU Trainer or on the floor and play Tug of War. Great full body and balance exercise. You can do this with only 2 people and a rope or Yogastrap.
  • Foam Roller War – Clients can either stand on a BOSU Trainer or on the floor each holding a 3 ft foam roller.  The idea is to knock the other person off of their BOSU or spot on the floor with your foam roller. Great balance drill and tons of fun.
  • Musical Chairs – Think classical game of Musical Chairs but when you are out, you have to do a series of exercises until the game is done. Can be done using BOSU Trainers instead of chairs. Instead of just walking around the chairs/BOSUs, have clients run, hop, lunge etc…
    • Out = 10 power squats, 10 push-ups, 10 crunches, 10 sky-divers
  • Duck, Duck, Goose – Think of the traditional game of Duck, Duck, Goose only while you’re waiting, you are having to hold a V-sit or Deep Squat or pushups etc.  Noone is out in this version so you can just keep playing with different exercises.
  • Fitness Treasure Hunt/Relay – Let’s say you have a group of 12 clients.  Set up into groups of no particular size.  For example, you could do 3 teams of 4 clients or 4 teams of 3 clients.  Have them line up single file in their teams and then place an envelope about 50-100 yards out with a number of various exercises listed on small separate sheets of paper.  For example, 20 Scissor Lunges, 10 Rotation Planks, 20 Rotation V-sits, 20 side leg lifts each side, 20 Tricep Dips, 20 Back Extensions etc.  The first person from each team will run to the envelope, grab a sheet of paper and run back and complete that particular exercise with the group.  You can have them continue until all the ‘treasures’ are gone.  You can also do this drill as a migrating treasure hunt with clues.  For example, have them run or walk to a certain location where they will find the exercise they are to perform with a clue to take them to their next location.
  • Play quick 5 minute game of Frisbee, Basketball or do a dance with the group etc.
Dance like no one is watching

Incorporating a little dance to make exercise fun!

  • Set up an Obstacle course – using BOSU Trainers, chairs, gliding discs and various other tools, set up a course that has them climbing over and under and completing various other fitness challenges.

We did a ton more games and drills in the session and the good news is that IDEA filmed the session so you can purchase it at

Remember that exercise for most people is a chore!  They just don’t like to do it at all! So it’s our job to make it as fun as possible so that they want to keep coming back. It doesn’t mean that every single exercise has to be fun, but pepper the really fun stuff in between the hard stuff and that will get them through those tough stages.  Help your clients experience results in a way where they enjoy the journey and trust me, success and prosperity will follow you wherever you go!

Yours in health, fitness and business,

Sherri McMillan

ps. We offer a free webinar about the business side of Small Group Training that offers a ton of great tips on offering these types of programs. Go to and enter your email address and you will receive the webinar for free immediately!

Posted in Business, business of personal training, business success, client retention, customer service, fitness career, fitness industry, fitness instructor, fitness professional, leadership, management, Marketing, personal trainer, personal training, Practical Skills, Sherri McMillan, Uncategorized by Sherri | 46 Comments

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