I have been running workshops since 2006 and now organise three a year on behalf of the Active Canterbury Network.

They are so much fun and so valuable to the community on so many levels that I would encourage anyone who is enthusiastic and with an eagerness to learn more and meet others in the industry, to give running a few a go in their region.

There’s no right or wrong on how the could roll but hopefully me sharing what we’ve done will help you get started.

We recognize that clubs often already have lots of in-house support so the focus of the workshops I deliver the last 6 or so years is more to support those flying solo and outside the club environment like instructors operating out of halls, park based trainers, walking group leaders etc but obviously welcoming anyone and everyone from with in the club enviroments too.

Currently they are delivered in the aerobics room of a beautiful local council facility three times a year (Pioneer Stadium) but we have held them at lots of different clubs and facilities over the years and I don’t think I’ve ever had a facility in Chch say no to my request to hold one at their place either.
Admittedly, when I have asked to run them elsewhere in the country some people have indeed said no but understandably they may not see the benefits of something they are yet to see and I’m not always too good at explaining myself. So my tip here, when running your first few, is to ask people who know you to host the initial events until you get some momentum. The Catch Fitness ones started at the gym I worked in and the owners were totally supportive of me running them on site. Not long after I moved them to the local Polytechnic where I was lecturing and used their lecture rooms and gyms etc and then we went out and about into gyms all over the place.

I now pretty much always hold them on a Saturday afternoon 12.30 – 4.30pm. I tried all different times and lots work but we wanted to settle on something consistent so people could plan for it better and I wanted to work in with Pioneer, who ticked all the boxes in terms of location, equipment, staff support etc and Saturday arvo’s work well for them too.

Tuesday morning workshops did however used to go off as did Fridays,which are my personal favorite.

This has varied massively over the years but presenters are now generally given between 10 minutes and 45 minutes. Given the choice, I’d probably shoot for 20 minute presentations now, with 5 minute for questions and 5 minutes for practical application type chats/exericses.  Given the choice I’d probably run at least two and up to 6 back to back of this sort of time frame but we’ve had awesome presenters that have presented for 3 hours – you just need to know they are awesome before having people commit to that amount of time with one person.

They are usually delivered by a wide range of mostly local experts inclusive of other isntructors. You can see a huge list here of the workshops and presenters we have used in the past by clickety clicking here.

While networking is a key part I like to keep this relevant and fun and for it to just happen as the workshop progresses. I’m not a big one on ‘let’s just meet up for a chat’ type stuff – I want agendas and outcomes and content rich sessions.

The numbers are great for ours– sitting between 20 and 60, averaging about 35 for each workshop but any number is a good number. You may start with just 4 people and each one might grow by 2 or 3 people. My suggestion is to be okay with that and enjoy the freedom of what small numbers allow while you can – for instance getting in a coach to teach Olympic lifts is probably easier with just a few people, or to go over running technique, play on aerial silks etc.

When I first started running them they were free if you contributed a 5 minute talk and $5 if you didn’t and we just help them on the floor of the aerobics room of the gym I worked at, but they got a bit big for that.
I then moved into running 3 workshops renting space at the local Polytechnic, back to back sessions on a Friday afternoon at $25 each. One workshop was technical exercisey stuff, one was from an affiliate health professional and one was on business.
A few years later Active Canterbury funding allowed the workshops to be provided free to attendees by covering my and any associated costs. You can read more about Active Canterbury here. There’s certainly a few creative options on how you can cover costs and I’m happy to toss those around with people.

Because we provide this free service to people in the industry REPs has supported us by allowing us to give CPDs out for free to those of our workshops that qualify in terms of duration and level of up-skilling. CPDs certainly adds value and credibility to the workshops and that helps in the marketing of them as well.

Being able to listen to experts is golden and to do that while hanging out with other PTs and group fitties is awesome i.e. people that ‘get’ you and this industry and who get as excited as you do around having a go at 101 pushup variations.

For gyms there’s certainly a big plus in having workshops as a neat way to build rapport with new people in the industry and to look after your staff in a quality way in the process. According to the last survey I did of new graduates – they rated upskilling opportunities as more important than pay when looking for employment.
I regularly get emails from attendees who via meeting others have been able to find out about all sorts of work opportunities – that always makes my day.

And here’s the tough-ish bit. If you’re going to organize them you need to know a bunch who’ll come along and get the ball rolling.
If you don’t know your locals fitness peeps then I’d suggest rocking along and doing their classes and getting to know them a little and also asking them if they’d like to present 5 or 10 minutes at a session. EVERY trainer I have ever met has had a golden piece of advice or exercise or idea and I love that workshops can provide people with the space to share them. Sometimes they have to be cajoled a little but that too can help them grow a little and test the waters of ‘presenting’ in a supportive environment.

I’m always happy to advertise any workshop for other fitness professionals for free, well mostly, I step away from supplement selling info night type workshops and seminars, but otherwise drop me a line anytime. I’ve got a database of about 1300 professionals at the moment. REPs will have a way bigger database so you can always chat to them, but to be honest if you’re just running them in your local area the best bet would be to just head out the door and start meeting your local crew.

Every 3 – 5 months or so is fine for what we’re up and running them only that often hopefully means people can justifying prioritizing the time to attend them.

Ideally presenters should do some – even if only bullet points – and it’s a great opportunity for them to market themselves by popping all the details and any offers on it without taking up workshop time and for us to then add value to them having come along to help us out.

You don’t need any.   If you’ve got it i.e projectors, powerpoints etc and your comfortable with using it and/or the presenters are go for it, but it’s certainly okay to have people sit on the floor and have presenters just talk away – indeed they are often the best ones.