thought provoked by the Life Fitness Academy Training and great Life Fitness trainer Gavin Aquilina
Treadmills - if you look at the reports, the program that most members choose would be Quick Start. Time they spend on the treadmill - 20 min. What trainers told them - "Get on the treadmill and do 20 minutes of cardio. See you later".
Since I own a PT studio, I've never thought of this non exact prescription as being detrimental membership retention. First, we have no treadmills (there is a park across from us and we invested in learning all the fun tracks instead). Second, we don't lose members, so I never have to think about what cardio has to do with it.
The quick start option could be chosen by one of two people: one who memorizes and plans out their workouts (like I do, well, my coach does), or someone who has no specific idea about what time, resistance, incline, speed, etc, they are going to use. If you don't know those variables, you are screwed for two reasons: first, you work without a goal, that means pretty soon you'll be bored out of your mind and see your results through a "crooked macaroon" (the Bulgarian way to say "never"). Second, you have no way of knowing whether you've improved, and without improvement, no one would stay in the gym anyways.
So, how do you get out of this? Give specific instructions to the person involved in aerobic training. Assess their needs, their level. Write them a program, make it fun, and make them follow it. Chances are, if you have planned a nice 4 week progression, they will be excited to get to the next phase. And in the next phase, they will get an even greater fun out of more advanced protocols, like intervals, fartlek, etc.
Most cardio machines nowadays offer a myriad of programs, you can sure use those, but make sure you plan progressions in intensity and duration during the different phases, this way you can focus on intensity this month and on duration next month, one building on the other, to make sure your client is in better shape at the end of the program. Have them on a good nutrition program, and they will also see considerable fat loss. A client who is getting fitter, seeing results in the mirror, and enjoying a goal oriented workout plan, is most likely going to stay a member.
The next time you see someone use the quick start program, make sure they are doing it for a reason, that they have a goal in mind, if they don't, it is your calling to give them one. If you are someone who has hired a trainer and all they tell you is : " give me 20 minutes on the treadmill", it's time to look for a new one.