This month most people begin to return to their ‘normal’ routines following summer break, or at the very least, they begin to wind down their summer activities in anticipation of returning to their regular work-life schedule.  This transition back from summer break seems to be slower and more of a struggle for even your most committed members than in past years.  Typically just before or after the Labor Day long weekend (both in Canada and the USA), everyone begins their return to the gym but this is no longer what we are seeing.  More and more members are delaying their return to the gym and for some members it takes weeks or even months before they walk through our front doors.  So why is it so hard for so many members to get back into their exercise routine and what can we do as program directors to influence their transition back into our facilities and our programs?  Social and behavioral scientists who have been studying non-consistent exercisers’ behavior patterns say that we must make exercise relevant to our clients and members daily lives and connect the benefits to the immediate short term needs of person rather than the long term health benefits.  What if we were to associate immediate benefits to our programs like “boost in energy, mood, improved sleep or productivity”, would that help get members back to the gym and back into our programs faster?  According to the research this works to motivate exercisers as does the following:  choosing easier, more enjoyable workouts that are sustainable over time, making exercise social (working out with a close friend), getting competitive within the group (where people can keep track of each other’s progress) and working out in a group setting.  Once again the research shows that group dynamics have a lot of power over exercise behavior but the key to success is gathering people with similar interests then creating an way for members to track one another’s exercise efforts.  Keeping score in the game is not just for kids.  Think about ways you can incorporate this social and behavioral science into sound strategies for bringing your members back to your facility as soon as summer wraps up.  The sooner we can get our members back into a routine that is enjoyable, social and competitive, the sooner we have impacted their lives for the long term.  I invite you to think of new ways to promote your fall programs and events that will help bring more people back into routine, sooner than later.

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