What makes a good fitness competition? Reasonable cost, safety, punctuality, good vibes? Surely a bad competition would be one that misses one of these elements. If a good competition is a demonstration of adequate basic elements listed above, then we must ask ourselves what makes a GREAT comp? Today we will try to present the answer to that question using what we believe to be the three pillars of great fitness competitions; Revenues, Logistics, and Experience.
Pillars aside, anyone who competes knows that the difference between good and great lies in mindset. Pursuing a good competition would be creating a checklist and checking all of the boxes. Think of our method as more of a formula, each piece isn’t a box to check, it’s a variable to maximize with your given resources. Did you complete the task? Did you stop at completion? Or did you maximize the output? You’re not done when you check the box, you’re done when you’ve maximized the variables given your resources.
Revenues doesn’t only mean income. Most people don’t get into fitness careers to get rich. Think of this pillar as the inputs and outputs of time and money for everyone involved. What time and money are you trading in this process? How many hours of your time and effort? How many dollars of your own or your gym’s? What is the desired outcome? Do those line up? What about the judges, what’s their trade? The athletes?
The secret to maximizing the revenues variable is taking time to consider all of the above factors. Your judges are likely volunteers, but if they don’t get a shirt, a couple breaks, and some lunch they are probably going to be less than thrilled. Making sure the budgets of time and money account for that are invaluable to the real success of the event. What about the manager? If you spend several long days and sleepless nights leading up to the event, how excited are you going to be on event day? How likely are you to do it again?
First, start planning earlier than you think you need to, preferably much earlier. The advantage of additional calendar days of planning cannot be overstated. Secondly, price your entry fee accordingly, making sure all big costs (shirts, food, etc) are more than covered.Third, set a target for entries (teams and/or individuals) that makes the whole operation worthwhile. Fourth, establish tasks and responsibilities and DELEGATE where necessary. The time demand on the manager is the limiting factor in most cases, you’re more likely to succeed and feel good doing it if you outsource to judges/volunteers and vendors. Lastly, consider additional revenue streams. If you have vendors coming, are you charging them? Bartering for prizes and giveaways? Are you selling gym membership or merch? Does the competition have its own merch? If you’re limiting revenue to exclusively entry fees you are putting all of your eggs in one basket.
You’ve designed the workouts, recruited the judges and volunteers, and set the heats. Maybe you’ve even set the floor plan, MC and microphone, playlists, and created a timeline. Logistics are the part of the comp where a coach’s coach normally excels, so ask yourself, how tight can we make this portion of the plan? Make sure that you have tested your workouts in order to build an appropriate timeline with transitions built in. Make sure to do a dry run or judges’ brief with the staff beforehand with demos and coaching. There should also, obviously, be an athlete brief. The announcements at the beginning and throughout the day will be extremely important, along with vendor plugs that you have on site. Lastly, have contingencies built in to your timeline, heath structure, transitions, etc. The odds of everything going according to plan are extremely low, have a plan for each piece that can possibly go off the rails.
You’ve now gone all in on planning the maximization of revenues and logistics, great work! This is where most people punch out and move forward with executing their plan, leaving a massive area for opportunity. Going one step further to walk through the entire life cycle of your comp from the perspective of the athlete will allow you to truly optimize their full experience.
Let’s start from the beginning. How did this person learn about the event? How good are the social media posts, flyers, and dialogue from your coaches and members? Is there a logo for your comp? Shirts? Are they included in sign up? Are they going to be rush designed and shipped by your local screen printer in the eleventh hour? Are you going to dedicate staff to handing out t-shirts on comp day, hoping that the sizes are all there? Or are you going to ship shirts on-demand to athletes beforehand? Are you communicating with the athletes beforehand? Do they have itineraries? Are you releasing workouts early? Have you created a page or hashtag for participants and observers to tag or post to? Have you hired someone, professional or amateur, to capture photos and videos throughout the day? Are you announcing the prize packs? Are you setting expectations or leaving people in the dark?
What about vendors? We’ve seen far too many events with no food or coffee available, only cases and cases of canned pre-workout drinks… Do you have a floor layout for the vendors to ensure their exposure? Are they paying you? Bartering for the space by donating prizes/giveaways? Are you promoting them during the comp? Are their logos displayed anywhere? Are they in your communication to athletes leading up to event day? Is your gym or comp offering them additional apparel or accessories?
On the day of the event, be sure to plan for parking, space for athletes to rest and warm up, podium setup and prize packs, and definitely be sure to have your opening and closing announcement/monologue down.
Lastly, be sure to have your follow up sorted. Send a recap email or make a post tagging the winners. Whether or not you plan to run your event again in the future, it’s important to close the loop on the entire experience with your athletes!