Keeping New Employees

Once you have taken the extra time to put the proper people in place, your attrition battle is not over. How do you keep them from leaving? Studies have proven that a primary reason for employee dissatisfaction is a feeling of being ill-prepared and improperly trained for the functions they perform. Read the rest of this entry »

Leigh’s Journal: Week 7. Part 3

I would say you are a success story! Despite your work and family demands, you still manage to exercise on a regular basis. Six days — that’s fantastic! You may not have kept a log, but you know the sessions were solid, as you say, and that’s what matters most. Read the rest of this entry »

Leigh’s Journal: Week 7. Part 2

Armand, I appreciate your concern about the exercise program I am trying. I fully concur that the program is designed to build muscle. I have become interested in weight training as a road to overall fitness and have no intention of becoming muscle bound. The weights I am using are light and the rep pattern fits the same type of variation I perform on the treadmill. If in a couple of weeks I am not pleased with the results, I will discontinue it. So far I have seen only toning. These are from the training you designed as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Leigh’s Journal: Week 7. Part 1

I have dropped the food journal and exercise journal. The good news is I have not dropped the new habits. I am looking slim and toned. My under garments are baggie. My clothes are looser and fit better. I lost 2 pounds last week. I am now wearing one jeans-size smaller. Read the rest of this entry »

Is There a Volunteer in the House? Part 3

Like any working relationship, there is always the potential for volunteer and managerial conflicts on a wide range of issues. Even with a well-planned recruitment process, some volunteers are not suited for a job in the service industry, or aren’t well-versed in the technical aspects of exercise instruction. Read the rest of this entry »

Is There a Volunteer in the House? Part 2

Intrinsic. There are other intangible or intrinsic reasons why members may volunteer. Many like the team atmosphere that is engendered and see it as an opportunity to meet new people, improve their self-confidence and develop new skills. Some also have the altruistic motivation of helping other people achieve their health and fitness goals ‹ a very satisfying and worthy motivation. Volunteers can be motivated for all of these reasons, as well as because they are doing something they enjoy and have fun doing it. This is a very important motivation that employers often neglect to foster. Management must ensure it is a fun experience for all involved.

Management support

Each member of the management team, including the club owner, fitness director, aerobics director and club manager, should show his or her support and appreciation to the volunteers. Teaching is often a very daunting task. Volunteers should be given patience and help along the way to allay their fears.

One of the most difficult aspects of an instructor’s role is handling difficult customers and situations. The management team should train volunteers to deal with these problems. Volunteers should be aware that criticism, sometimes constructive, and at times very harsh, is part of the deal. You can hold yearly retreats and regular workshops to discuss issues such as this one.

Open communication is essential, either through group or individual meetings, email messages, memos, etc. The management team should be easily accessible and open to ideas and suggestions from the volunteers. Also, management, particularly the person ultimately responsible for the volunteer program, should be able to give open and honest feedback to the volunteers. Sometimes this will not be an easy task, especially in cases where a volunteer’s skills are lacking. Regular training and skill updates should be available, but if no improvement results, taking a volunteer out of the program is essential. Both management and volunteers must agree that member satisfaction is paramount.

Benefits of using volunteers

The most obvious benefit of using volunteers is the dollar savings a successful volunteer program can bring. In a large corporate program, such as the one at World Bank where volunteers provide more than half of the 60 classes per week, centers can save more than $60,000 per year in wages.

Many other benefits can be gained from using volunteers. In a corporate program, volunteers set a great example for coworkers to become involved in the fitness program. Their commitment to volunteering their time and following their own fitness program is a great example to other workers who may lack motivation to exercise.

Volunteers also help promote the fitness center’s classes and various promotional activities by word of mouth. This is often more effective than the regular newsletters, bulletins and promotional flyers that are sometimes overlooked by busy members. Volunteers who are supportive of the management’s policies and procedures can also help other members better understand why certain rules and regulations are followed (time restrictions on machines, limitations to class-size numbers, class time changes, etc.).

Careful and skilled recruitment of volunteers can help provide a diverse range of activities that capitalizes on a unique mix of skills and cultural backgrounds. In a culturally-diverse area or company, volunteers can provide unique formats such as Latin aerobics, African rhythm classes, classical ballet and Aussie boxing aerobics.

Potential problems

Working with volunteers is not all smooth sailing. In corporate programs there is often a clash between the instructor’s “real work” and his or her volunteer work.

If a last-minute meeting is called or a deadline is imminent, it is not easy for volunteers to suddenly leave work to teach an exercise class. No matter how well-planned a volunteer program is, “real world” crises do arise. Management should be aware of these pressures and have substitute procedures in place.

If problems consistently occur with a particular volunteer, management should approach this person. He or she should suggest that, “While we love having you involved and appreciate your efforts, maybe you should have a rest from teaching until your workload is less demanding.”

Is There a Volunteer in the House? Part 1

It’s Monday afternoon, 4:45 p.m. Your power-step instructor calls to tell you that her car broke down and she won’t be able to teach her 6 p.m. class. This gives you a little more than an hour to find a replacement instructor. If you can’t find anyone, you or one of your fitness specialists will have to substitute. But you are short-staffed, the fitness specialists are fully booked with appointments, and you have no idea how to teach power step. Read the rest of this entry »

Mom as Coach

A mother needs to be the world’s best coach all the time. We’ve had a month here that required heavy coaching. Overlaid on the frenzy of the holidays were several “challenges” that we just had to deal with as a family. Read the rest of this entry »