By Aileen Sheron, Special AFS Contributor

Developing a unique program that is exclusively yours can really give you a leg up on your competitors. Clients are looking for an experience that will deliver several key elements: A well organized program, peer support, quality customer service, great value, and optimal results. Although individual needs might be different, you can identify some key concepts and run specialized programs that are targeted and effective.

Take the time to prepare well, anticipate the needs of your group, and deliver a great experience. If you benefit financially from giving them what they need, then this makes for a very synergistic and favorable outcome for all! Once you have honed your first program, it increases your chances of duplicating your success for future offerings.

Start the research process by creating a survey or questionnaire for your clients 

You can also have your sales team talk to prospective and/or current customers to establish what kinds of programs will be most beneficial. For example, a trendy area in health and wellness today is detoxification. Why not combine a program that focuses on detox, fitness, and wellness education? You could align yourself with a holistic nutritionist, offer supplements, partner with a juicing store, a reputable colonic establishment, and an infrared sauna facility, etc. By doing all the research and making the process easier for your clients, you will enhance the overall success of the program and improve customer service. It can also help local businesses at the same time. You could negotiate a referral fee or percentage of their sales, adding to your profits.

Try to estimate the right enrollment number, depending on space, resources, and time availability. I would recommend a smaller group on your first go round. If things go well, you can improve on your successes, eliminate things that don’t work, and then expand it to a larger group!  

If you create a successful model, be sure to name your program, and protect the concept

You can register it and buy a web domain pretty inexpensively. You may also want to have a dedicated landing page on your website to educate prospective clients on the benefits of your program. Owning your own Intellectual Property (IP) will enhance your brand!

You will need to check if your name is available, including a good top level domain, etc. Find out if your preferred domain name is available at or A trademark search can be conducted for free at

Customization and the personal touch are crucial

No matter what the size of your group, the program still needs to include an element of individual service. It will assist in getting important feedback, document personal data, and make a much deeper connection. For example, along with the time spent exercising and/or lecturing, add the opportunity to include some one-on-one time with clients. Include a private consultation in the package. You can also partner clients up according to need. They benefit in two ways – getting a semi-private session, and having a buddy to help them stay focused on their goals. Don’t disregard the social aspect; it can be a strong motivator, giving people a way to connect, bond, and support each other!

Decide if you would like to offer the program only to current clients or if you’re looking to expand your reach in the community. Specialty programs are a great way to bring new members into the club. Advertise outside your list with targeted ads on Facebook, fliers to local businesses, or mailers. Social media marketing ads are inexpensive and can be highly focused to reach the right audience.


Create an online community or dedicated group page on social media

Make sure you have a special place for everyone to chat, make suggestions, include pictures, ad personal stories, and communicate about their experiences. This will increase camaraderie, support team, and individual efforts, and create a unified tribe!

Get all your ducks in a row before the launch, from having signed medical releases to a complete explanation of what they can expect. All written materials should include your brand name, from outlines to progress reports. Check with your insurance company if you need additional coverage, especially if some of the services are performed off campus. 

If you are not running it yourself, finding the right team member will make all the difference in the success of your program. Offering incentives to staff, additional pay, or a commission to sell the program, will help you reach your goals and make everyone happy! The accolades of running a new program can also make teachers/trainers feel more valued.

Pricing your program will take some work

You don’t want to lose money on it, but you may want to offer it at an introductory discount at first. Once you start selling out by word of mouth or ads, and the success is legitimized, then you can reevaluate pricing. Deliver what you promised and offer a money back guarantee.

This can be a strong part of your marketing campaign. 6-8 week commitment times seem to be the industry norm, and taking breaks between running the programs will help keep it unique and fresh, and give you the valuable time to make adjustments. When creating your proprietary program, make sure that it is different from your regular offerings.

Reviews can be the most powerful way to sell your program

People want the assurance that it can deliver on the experience you are selling. Now, more than ever, testimonials are considered to be the gold standard in marketing a successful program. Include pictures, video, and compelling stories. A score system works well, and using the five-star method is most recognizable. Create your own unique T-shirts, or use a branded piece of equipment in your program. Try implementing fun marketing teasers that will improve awareness, like a fit challenge that gives a member a free pass to the program. Word of mouth is the best way to spread interest and help confirm that this new program is worthy of participation.

With so many clubs vying for clientele, this is an opportunity to shine. Be honest and sincere in the delivery of your information and selling your program. Make a concerted effort to show genuine care for the success of each and every person who participates. Your clients will appreciate the attention to detail, added value, increased motivation, and leadership enthusiasm.  If they reap the rewards of a well-planned program, they will be promotion machines and loyal fans. It is your responsibility to make them feel special, valued, and part of your fitness family. Good Luck!

Don't miss these other articles from Aileen:

5 Ways to Make More Money in Your Fitness Business
How to Become a Presenter at Industry Events

Aileen Sheron is President of Good Natured Products Inc. and the inventor of the patented OmniBall®.  She has been an innovator and fitness entrepreneur since 1979 and has trained thousands of instructors. A top IDEA presenter for 27 years, Aileen specializes in equipment-based resistance programming, choreography, myofascial release, and much more!  She writes for fitness publications and has starred in several high profile exercise videos, including the Positive Pre- and Postanal series for the makers of Similac baby formula.  Her Weight Watchers Low Impact Aerobics Workout was rated #1 by Consumer Reports. She consults on product and program development for some of the biggest names in fitness and posts weekly on social media. You can find her at

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