As a fitness director, there are multiple ways to ensure you are offering the right cycling programs for your members, including monitoring participation numbers or conducting surveys. But according to Elsie Bennett, the fitness and wellness director of the Alpert JCC, Long Beach, the most effective way is to make yourself present for your members.
“I have an open-door policy and I always make sure on a consistent basis — every two to three weeks — I drop by my spin classes,” said Bennett. “I truly get to know the members on a personal level and doing that has made a tremendous difference.”
Not only is Bennett the director at her facility, but she is also a certified spinning instructor. “I have a no cancellation policy with my spinning classes, so if I ever have an instructor who can’t make it and I can’t find a sub, I go myself and teach that class,” she said.
By having a personal connection with members, Bennett has established a high level of trust that enables her to pick the right spin classes to offer. “We found that for our community center, spinning, through Mad Dogg Athletics, appealed more to our members,” she said. “When it comes to the program, it’s more geared toward treating an indoor cycling class as a simulation to that of an outdoor cycling ride — it’s more realistic.”
Because members are fond of this type of program, Bennett takes special care in hiring and training her instructors. They start with a practical portion of coaching Bennett — acting as a participant — through a class, then after, they go through a three-month evaluation process.
“It’s about bringing the mind and body connection in the room while you’re on the spin bike,” said Bennett. “So during our spin classes, you’ll find that not only are the instructors simulating a true cycling bike ride, just like outside, but they also bring the mind into it — there’s more of a coaching modality that comes into place while you’re on the bike.”
Other than stopping by spin classes herself to check on instructors, Bennett also has the eyes of her members to ensure classes are running smoothly. “If the instructors aren’t delivering on the components they are supposed to be delivering on, I immediately get feedback — members find me or send emails,” she said. “I’ve gotten feedback from my instructors also where members are saying they love that I’m there, I’m a real person and they have access to me.”
Because fitness directors are tasked with multiple duties, it can be hard to find the time to consistently check up on instructors and gauge member satisfaction, but according to Bennett, simply making personal connections and being present has made all the difference for her facility. “Just don’t stay in that office all day long — I know we have a lot to deal with,” she said. “When it comes to the community setting, it’s important for the members to have that relationship with people in higher management.”