What is wellness? Wellness is a state of feeling well in body, mind and spirit, together with a sense of reserve power. It is based on normal functioning of the tissues and organs of the body, a practical understanding of the principles of healthful living, and as it means "a richer life as it's measured in constructive service to mankind," according to author W.W. Dauer.

            It includes our emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, environmental and social wellness; all of which makes us a "well-being". If all aspects of wellness are being met, then we are considered whole.


            Twenty years ago, the wellness industry did not exist, but today, it is growing fast. It is estimated that by 2010, the wellness industry will be a trillion dollar industry and in the next 10 years, an additional $1 trillion dollars of the US economy will be focused on getting Americans healthy through programming and treating the whole person. During the past decade, US prescription drug sales have quadrupled to $192.2 billion a year in 2002 from $48 billion in 1992. Worldwide drug sales increased by eight percent last year to $430.3 billion according to IMS Health, a health information and consulting firm. If you think about it, as prescription drug sales rise, so does the spending on wellness. Americans are already spending over $200 billion dollars annually in the wellness industry. This includes the nutrition industry at $150 billion dollars per year, the US Dietary Supplement Industry at $19.8 billion and $24 billion for the fitness industry.

            The need for personal, customized care will grow because the baby boomers are willing to spend the money to safeguard their youth. American Sports Data Inc. found that "25% of the 41.3 million health club members in the US are 55-years-old and older. This is a number that is up 33% since 1998 and is compared with a growth rate of 13% for Baby Boomers aged 35 to 54, and zero growth for the "traditional" fitness participant aged 18 to 34."

            The Baby Boomers over 55 are willing to spend more money on holistic health care practitioners, integrative dietitians, personal trainers, wellness consultants and disease prevention and educational programs to live longer, healthier lives. Alternative medicine is moving mainstream because more Americans are finding relief with these types of practices. Alternative medical facilities treat the whole person and give the patient the undivided attention often lacking in conventional medicine. Currently 34 out of the 125 medical schools are now offering courses in alternative medicine including Harvard, Yale and John Hopkins. With the growing pressure of health care costs on the country, and as the demand for wellness rises, the need of a wellness manager is taking on increased importance in any facility or organization. Make sure you have one direct person that is devoted to complete wellness programming.


How to Use Wellness

            First, you have to decide what wellness will mean in your facility. Does your facility have spa amenities, dietitians, physical therapists or chiropractors? A survey conducted recently by IHRSA found that a growing number of fitness clubs (11% of those surveyed) now have day spas in their facilities that offer services including facials, massages, pedicures/manicures and aromatherapy. Being "well" is more than just going to the gym to work out these days, it can mean getting a sports massage, treating your tired feet to a pedicure or seeking the expertise of a registered dietitian. It is helping members to relieve stress and learn about health through means other than exercise.

            Once you have defined what wellness will mean in your facility, you will have to determine your target populations before you can begin your programming. Target populations can be broken up into the following categories and sub-categories:


1. Children's Activities

a. 6 months to 2 years   b. 2 to 3 years

c. 3 to 5 years              d. 6 to 10 years

e. 10 to 12 years           f. 13 to 15 years


2. Special Populations

a. Pre- and Post-natal               b. Diabetes, Arthritis, etc.

c. Baby Boomers                     d. Gender Specific

e. Handicapped/Disabled


3. Athletic Programs

a. Running/Walking/Swimming Clubs

b. Half and Full Marathon Training Programs

c. Triathlon Training Programs

d. Golf/Tennis Clinics


4. Family Programming

a. Mommy and Me Classes      b. Infant Massage

c. Kids Camps                        d. Self-Defense Workshops


Creative Programming

            Now that you have defined your target populations, you have to create your annual program calendar. Between September and October, you should already be working on your programs for the first six months of the following year. I like to set my programs based on the National Health Observances set for each month. For example, January is National Blood Donor Month and the third week in January is Healthy Weight Week, a great week to kick off any weight loss program you plan on implementing for those New Year's Resolutioners. You can find more information on the 2005 National Health Observances ' (www.healthfinder.gov), which will list months and dates including sponsoring organizations and contact information for materials.

            Setting goals for your programs is essential when judging the success or failure of the program. There are several different types of goals, including;


  • Strategic/Innovation Goal: Focuses on long-term strategy of achieving program results

  • Financial Goal: Focuses on how program can generate better profitability for the club

  • Results Goal: Defines immediate results as an outcome

  • Process/Milestone: Large goal that has been divided into smaller measurable milestones

  • Day to Day Activity Goal: Not related to a project', is an activity that is part of your job


                You will most likely use all of these goals to complete your programming. Using the S.M.A.R.T. goal model is a great tool when forming your goals. S.M.A.R.T. goal stands for Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Timebound. An example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal would be to help 30 members achieve a weight loss of five to 15 pounds through exercise, nutrition and stress management techniques within the 12-week period. The club will generate a 20% profit from the program."

                Once the goal of the wellness program has been defined, we have to set objectives that are measurable. A program could have five to 12 objectives based off the scope of the program. If you have fewer objectives, your program may not be adequately thought through or developed. If you have more than 12, you are probably including too much detail. There should be at least one objective for each component of the program.     

                Using action verbs to describe the expected outcome or behavior will help you characterize each component even further. Using our S.M.A.R.T. goal stated above, we can break it down further. "By the end of week 12, participants should achieve five to 15 pounds weight loss by meeting with a registered dietitian for all three consultation appointments and attending all exercise sessions with the personal trainer." By the end of week 12, participants should achieve reduced stress levels by attending six yoga classes and using their massage session included in the price of the program. By including yoga and massage into the program, we are beginning to treat the person and teach important behaviors that they will want to implement in their own lives. By including some form of stress reduction technique into our wellness programs, we are beginning to address the importance of mental and emotional health.


    Creating Your Marketing Plan

                Marketing is key for the success of your wellness program. Knowing where to start is the challenge. There is no single right or wrong way to write a marketing plan; however, every plan should have a situation analysis, marketing strategy, sales forecast and expense budget.


    Questions to consider when creating your marketing plan are:


  • What is the specific behavior you want to impact?


  • What specific audiences do you want to target?


  • Will this audience identify with the need to change their behavior?


  • What objections might the target audience have to changing their behavior? How can you overcome those barriers?


  • What promotion methods will be most effective with your target audience?


  • What are your competitors doing?

                The more information you gather about your market, the greater advantage you will have when it comes to the success of your wellness programs.


    Program Evaluations

                The purpose of evaluations is to set up a feedback system for ongoing monitoring and improvement of the program. There are several ways to evaluate a program, but getting both internal and external evaluations will help judge the effectiveness, cost, efficiency and success of the program. The external evaluation is where participants provide their feedback about the program. The programming team completes the internal evaluation where they are able to assess which of the goals were achieved and how well it was done and make suggestions for improvement.

                All evaluations have no value unless the results are used to improve any interventions of the program. This necessary step, however, is commonly overlooked. For programs, all reports should include not only the evaluation outcome and reports of progress but also a detailed explanation of how those results were used to strengthen, refine or revise the program.

                By executing results-oriented wellness programs in your facility, you create more energetic and positive members, which will provide meaningful gains for your facility or organization. Good luck planning your wellness programs!