General Tips to Remember
It would be nice to just make up any game and assume that your members will like it. Unfortunately, that’s too big of a gamble to take. Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when designing a new program for your members to enjoy.
First, the program needs to be structured by a set of rules that are announced ahead of time and are easily understood. The fitness center staff should brainstorm possible situations, and look for any potential problems before the rules are distributed. For example, will exercise time count only at the fitness center, or can members use their time from working out at home while traveling? Rules should be decided and agreed upon by all staff members involved. Consistency is key here; you certainly do not want one staff member going by one set of rules, while another staff member goes by a different set. Believe me, this causes more problems than you can imagine!
Second, reward individuals for participation levels that are easily reached. If you offer several programs where no one is able to win, the last thing they will do is sign up for another one. Make sure that if most of your members come to the club three times a week for 60 minutes, and they continue this pattern, they have a good chance at winning. Or, make allowances for several winners by having a grand prize drawing at the conclusion of the program.
Third, the reward you give should be tangible. You may want to advertise what the prize is or display the prize alongside the game board so participants know what they are working toward. Also, the prize should be something like a T-shirt, water bottle or free membership. Simply posting the winners is a nice thought, but to really encourage participation, members want to have a tangible prize to attain.
Fourth, the reward should let others know who the winners are. Giving someone a T-shirt is OK, but giving them a T-shirt that says “1995 Fitness Olympics Gold Medal Winner” allows others to recognize that the person played an incentive game and won. This is a good way to advertise what your organization offers, and this will generate more interest in your next program. Additionally, signs can be posted indicating who the winners are. Putting the winners’ names in the company newsletter is also a good idea.
Fifth, the reward should be timely. As soon as the program is over, the winners should be quickly determined and the prizes awarded.
This means that prizes should be available by the end of the program, so keep this point in mind if they need to be ordered.
Last, and perhaps most important, make sure that the length of the program is not too long or too short, especially with competitive games. We ran a program that lasted nine weeks, and by the seventh week, we had lost the interest of many of the participants. On the other hand, we offered a program that was two weeks long, and no one really got into the spirit of the game until it was over. With our members, four to six weeks seems to be a good length to enjoy the spirit of the game without it becoming too cumbersome or boring.