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Profitable Outreach Programs

Aug. 01, 2019, 12 p.m. (ET)

Project Lift has two profitable outreach programs I would love to share with you. We define a profitable program as a program that is able to pay for the instructor, space and equipment needed to operate them while also having money left over for the organization.

This is vital to the sustainability of the program, and to the value creation in the sport of weightlifting.

The First Program - Weightlifting for Rowers:

The first program is our off-season training program for rowing athletes. There are a number of adult rowing clubs that have large groups of committed athletes. But, the groups are unable to provide strength and performance training to these athletes.

By structuring a program that is positioned during the rowers off-season we can promote the benefits of utilizing training involving the snatch and clean & jerk for their sport. The first time the program ran it was a small group, and we focused on helping them build a solid foundation to be able to move safely and effectively for the snatch and clean & jerk. The program ended with the olympic movements being applied in the last few week.

This lead to a high number of the participants joining Project Lift for the year! They loved how they felt, they loved how their aches and pains had subsided and how they felt strong.

The true test was when rowing season came back. For the group who had worked with us, they all improved in the boat, and they raved about their experience. The next off-season the numbers easily doubled and this program has grown every year since.

The key to this programs design was focusing on the athletes goal - to improve in the sport of rowing. Their exposure to the olympic lifts, use of weightlifting and Project Lift was just an added bonus.

Once they saw results the trust flourished which lead to continued work and a number of these athletes have now competed in USA Weightlifting events at both the local and AO Series level. We have built a system to help these athletes come in to improve in their sport, and they learn that the sport of weightlifting can be an excellent activity for their off season!

The Second Program - Kids Program:

The second program is our kids program. This three month program is designed to lead kids age 9-13 through the very basics of the sport of weightlifting. At the end of the three month period the kids get to test their skills in a local competition.

The promotion around this event has been through relationships built in the CrossFit community. Many adults in CrossFit will say, “if I only had found these movements earlier in life.” We promote that now they can give their kids the exposure they wish they would have had.

We utilize a “Kids Free Weightlifting” day to expose the kids to what weightlifting is, what are the movements, and how they can be a ton of fun. We then hand out information packets to the parents explaining the program.

The information packets are key! They include professional photos of weightlifting, professional photos of kids performing weightlifting, information about weightlifting as a sport, our philosophy in training kids in the sport, the schedule, the curriculum, and the cost. Everything is laid out!

The program is three days a week with one hour classes. We teach positions and help the kids start to gain control of their movements with PVC pipes and the lightest training bars. To help their attention level each kid always has a job. If one athlete is lifting then another athlete may be doing an accessory movement which another athlete is counting for them. At the end of sessions we program in some general physical activities which can often be made into a game.

Why Designing for Profit is Key (even if you’re a non-profit)

One word: Sustainability

It is completely logical when we look at the numbers of cost in running a program. We have to pay for the coach and the space to run the class. But, once those are covered why should we ask for more? Why should we design it for profit?

For non-profits - because there are always unseen or forgotten costs (ex. I never mentioned the cost of marketing the program) and for future investment. Future investment included continued education, facility upgrades, and anything else that’ll help you fulfill your mission.

For profit businesses - because earning a profit is okay. It doesn’t make you a bad or greedy person. In fact, you’ll be covering the unseen and forgotten costs plus investing in future upgrades just like I mentioned in the non-profit section above. But, you can also pay this profit out to yourself for starting the business. You took all the risk, created and made it work. Earn profit.

The sport of weightlifting has been hindered by coaches not wanting to charge athletes. The stories they tell themselves vary but a couple I hear often are, “my coach didn’t charge me and if he didn’t I wouldn’t have been able to afford it” to “no one will pay for weightlifting.” I’m glad CrossFit showed us different. People are happy to pay to get a barbell in hand and receive good coaching.

I want you to think about gymnastics for a moment. Have you checked out the cost for kids gymnastics? They charge a premium for their serves. Gymnastics is an Olympic sport and so is the sport of weightlifting. There is no difference! Treat the sport of weightlifting as something of value because it is, and this will give us the money to reinvest in the sport and continue growing.