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Plan and avoid the following outdoor fitness pitfalls.

Covid-19 has sent the fitness industry into a spin. Gym operators can be proactive in the way they respond and stay relevant to their customers, or they can attempt to continue business as usual and risk becoming irrelevant to their customers. Being proactive means considering needs and issues before they arise.

Most facilities have been proactive inside facilities to minimize risks. However, aside from all the necessary steps needed to keep members safe in the gym, operators must consider how we can reach those members who do not feel safe being indoors just yet.

With the desire for the social motivation that come with group fitness and the need to just keep moving, our members have been searching for an answer that can meet these needs while helping them to feel safe. With this demand, many gym operators have been stepping up and stepping out by taking group fitness to the great outdoors!

While there are many benefits to sweating it out outside, planning cannot be overlooked. Provide a well thought out, energetic and safe experience to keep your members coming back.

Plan and avoid the following outdoor fitness pitfalls:


1. Check for space availability.

Many group fitness classes have taken to local parks. Double check to make sure you don’t need permits, and that the space will not be competing with another activity. Even if you are lucky enough to have outside space on your property (think green space, or even a few blocked off parking spaces), make sure other departments within your facility did not have the same great idea utilizing the same space at the same time as your planned class.

2. Do you know your location?

You should consider how busy the space is during your chosen class time. If it is a public space and you know there will be a lot of activity, participants may not feel comfortable, or it may compromise their safety. Are there any loud noises that will interrupt your class? A train whizzing by may prove to be distracting and provide a not so great experience.

Be sure to check the area for divots or slopes. Try going outside after rain and check for any flooded areas. Moreover, unless you want participants swatting and scratching during class, check to see how bad mosquitoes are in your chosen area at your chosen time.

3. Plan the lay of the land.

Do you know where your instructor will position him or herself? You will want to keep in mind where the sun will be and what the view will be for participants. We are lucky enough to have a beautiful lake view so we capitalize on that by have participants face the lake. You do not want to waste a good view.

On the other hand, I went to an outdoor yoga class that was in a park next to a beer garden. With our backs facing the seating area, we felt uncomfortable in positions such as down dog. If parking and finding your designated spot is complicated, you will want to put out signs, provide directions, and/or distribute maps. You will also want to let participants know if they will have access to any nearby facilities (bathroom breaks) so they come prepared.

4. Market, market, market to build excitement!

Use colorful graphics and if available, a picture of a class (preferably your class) taking place in the space. Clearly communicate all class details. Most importantly, you will want to communicate your plan “B” in case of inclement weather.

Outdoor workouts can be an easy cost-effective way to target a wide-range of members. Be creative with your offerings and make it feel like the party that so many have been missing during the last year of shutdowns and uncertainty.

Sandy Wiedmeyer

Sandy Wiedmeyer is the fitness manager at the RecPlex in Pleasant Prairie Wisconsin, and a member of WIFA as a Midwest Global Ambassador.

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