Determining Interest, Part 1

Murphy admits that you can’t just try an in in-line skating program on a Tuesday and Thursday night and expect it to stick. “It takes time to create interest and adherence to any new fitness program. Sometimes offer free ‘fun skates,’ teaching just the basics to see if club members are interested. We look at it as an investment for potential work.” Murphy suggests several marketing “tactics” to determine and create interest.

Some of them include having an “interest sign-up sheet” at the front desk, gift certificates available through the club, flyers, in-house newsletter articles and two-for-one discounts. “If a person who takes one of our lessons brings a friend to the next one, he receives a discount for that clinic. It’s important to offer members these incentive discounts. By doing this, we accomplish our goal to get non-members into the clubs. We’ve brought in several new members to health clubs because of our skating classes.”

Steps to providing in-line skating in your facility

Provide educational resources. If you are an aerobics instructor or personal trainer who’d like to add in-line skating to current programming, your first step is to educate management. (Use this article as part of your proposal.) Like any new “trend” in programming, you’ll need to convince not only managers and owners of the benefits of skating, but also members who need to feel comfortable and safe during the learning process.

Instructor certification. Next, practice your own skating skills and take the IISA Instructor Certification Program. The IISA was formed in 1991 to address the growth of the sport, with a special emphasis on developing an international standard for safety and education. The IISA has established a standard format for instructors to teach the public how to skate. This ensures that the person who takes a lesson in California by an IISA-certified instructor, and then takes another lesson by a certified instructor in Colorado, will receive a consistent and safe lesson with a professional. Three-day instructor certification programs take place in several locations in the U.S., Canada and abroad.

Insurance. This is the biggest issue in the health club industry. The good news is that it’s simple to get coverage. Upon passing the certification exam, new instructors receive a $1 million liability insurance policy that covers instructors and participants for bodily injury and property damage for one full year. (For each year after, it costs the instructor approximately $125 a year to renew.)

Jeffrey Frick, of Murria and Frick Insurance Co., receives about 10 calls a month regarding in-line skating. According to Frick, the IISA policy is with a top-rated carrier through K & K Insurance Group. Cheryl Meyers, a spokesperson for K & K, says, “If we can insure the NFL, NBA, and motor racing, we can do in-line skating!” She says if you are interested in offering in-line skating at your facility, you’ll need to prove to your insurance carrier that in-line skating “exposure” is justifiable as a legitimate club activity. Prepare a proposal with answers to the following questions to educate your insurance carrier:

1) Will classes be taught by an IISA-certified instructor?

2) Will classes take place indoors, outdoors or both?

3) What type of surface will participants be skating on?

4) Is safety gear required, including a helmet? (If not, abort the mission!)

5) How many people will be in a session?

6) How many instructors per session? (I recommend one for every 10 participants.)

7) Will the club provide skates and gear? (If so, the club will be responsible for maintenance.)

8) Will you require participants to sign an additional waiver? (It’s always a good idea.)

Meyers also says health clubs are smart to ask the certified instructor to be listed on his policy as an “additional insured.”

That way, the primary policy is IISA’s, not the health club’s. Listing a health club with the IISA carrier as an “additional insured” is a simple process that costs about $50 a year.