Hannah DePriest | Alex Foutch | Christina Smith
The rhetorical situation of our commons campaign was to increase the number of participants attending group fitness classes such as yoga, cardio dance, and various strength classes such as Barre, TRX, or Total Body Tone. The exigence of the group fitness program at the recreation center is the lack of knowledge students, faculty and staff have about fitness classes. With the new unfamiliar environment change and stressful college life students lead, group fitness classes can provide a supportive, open, and fun exercise space. The rhetorical audience for our project is any student (undergraduate, graduate, international, etc.), faculty or staff members of UNL. However, for many it is especially important for incoming freshman and men who are unsure of what the university and the recreation center has to offer as they try to maintain, or better their health.
There were many constraints within our campaign. One major constraint is the attitude of the public on whether or not this is a relevant topic to themselves or the population at large. The second major constraint is the awareness of the group fitness program and the classes offered. Some people simply are unaware of the program in general. Thirdly, there is no “superior” way medium which we could utilize in order to increase the number of participants in classes. In this day and age, to get people’s attention, it must directly and quickly benefit them, which is not the case with exercise. Exercise takes time to get results and going to them may not always directly benefit people in ways they deem important or relevant. The fourth constraint of the project is resources available to be used by the program to promote it, whether it be money or volunteers. Fifth, another constraint is time that people are willing to put in and that people have to go to fitness classes in the first place. Time is arguably the biggest commodity today, so while it may not take much money or many volunteers, it takes time. Lastly, one of the biggest constraints for our project is the participation of those in the program of those who the campaign is trying to target. If there is no interest in those we are trying to target to come to fitness classes, then the effort is a waste.
The proposal is a fitting response because it increases knowledge and visibility of our topic and can leave a permanent mark on the scene of group fitness. The campaign provides advertising tools and materials for them to use and post on various social medias, thus increasing visibility. Not only that, the proposal generates information to the group fitness program to utilize and optimize in order to gain more participants in the future.
To begin, we brainstormed why people do not attend group fitness classes and tried to identify who the biggest demographic was that do not attend classes. We observed that guys were the largest minority in these classes, so we created a survey aimed at figuring out why their participation in these classes is so low and what could possibly change that. Not only that, we also went to the rec to interview current instructors and participants. These interviews asked one simple question “Why do you group fitness?”. The interviewees were photographed with a sign that displayed the hashtag we created “#WhyIGroupFitness” to help put faces to the campaign and allow their faces to be out there.
We began the process by first, creating a survey that was sent out to males who actually did attend group fitness classes. The head of the group fitness program was able to pull the emails of men who had group fitness passes. We asked them 3 questions “Why do you think more guys do not go to fitness classes?”, “Why do you go to fitness classes?” and “What, if anything, could the group fitness program do to be more inclusive to participants?”. For the most part the responses we received, mirrored what we had talked about in our previous brainstorm. Firstly, we learned they do not go to classes because they either do not offer anything that would interest them, they are not aware what is offered, or they simply do not feel comfortable participating because of societal norms. Because we chose to survey males who did attend the group fitness classes, we were also able to find out why they participate. Most of them said things about how working out in a group setting is more fun for them and they feel they can get a better workout in when there is an instructor to help with the correct technique. One student said “More accountability to my fitness goals, knowing that there is a group and an instructor, I feel more accountable”. From the last question, we learned that in order for the group fitness classes to get a better turnout, more free classes should be offered for people to allow people to try them out. One student stated “More guys can be encouraged with some incentives, for example with free passes. Having more male zumba/dance (or barre) instructors who are encouraging would be a great idea”. All in all, this survey showed us where the problems existed and the perspectives on the participation of group fitness classes, especially for men.
After interviewing the men with fitness passes, our next step was to take pictures of both participants and fitness instructors. We first met with the head of the program and got it approved to take photos in the rec center. Then through facebook, instructors were asked if they were willing and able to provide us with photos of themselves along with a paragraph answering #WhyIGroupFitness. We then went to the rec over a series of days and times to catch instructors and their participants prior to and after classes and took photos of them holding the #WhyIGroupfitness sign and, if they had not already done so, provide us with a response of why they came to group fitness classes. Based off of the “humans of new york” style project, we collected the responses and created a #WhyIGroupFitness campaign that is to be proposed for the group fitness program to be used on their social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook.
This is an inventive approach to the issue because the group fitness program had not previously thought of doing a possible online approach of advertising the group fitness program of this type. The hashtag proposal also allows for participants to get involved using social medias such as instagram or facebook, which often times they do not get the opportunity to do. The fact that we have created a package to propose to the recreation center to use will make it memorable since it will be possibly be posted on their official profiles. Furthermore, the program has not reached out to the men with fitness passes to ask their opinion of why there aren’t more guys like them, so it gives insight into the perspectives of men on campus. With these perspectives, the program can take into account the men’s views and make changes.
This campaign is a creative package that we will present to the rec center. The evidence of this intervention is that we talked to the head of the group fitness program and she proposed that we create the material as a package and then propose the project to them so that she could format and optimize what we gave her. After analyzing the research from the interviews we were able to recognize why students did not go to fitness classes. We believe with #WhyIGroupFitness, students will be able to see how group fitness has benefited people in various ways and hopefully will inspire them to join and buy a pass.
Reflecting back on the project, we felt that we succeeded in three areas. To start, we got great feedback and information from participants on why (or why not) people - men specifically - do or do not go to fitness classes that the program can utilize for future programming. Second, we were able to take pictures of instructors and participants in a timely matter, especially due to the fact that we ended up changing our project completely pretty late into the semester. Finally, we felt our approach to building a creative proposal versus an ongoing campaign was beneficial. We built a campaign package for the rec to use, instead of something that needs to be updated every so often like a facebook or twitter page. If we were to do this project over again, we would start sooner and decide on a final direction sooner. As stated before, we ended up changing the topic from Camp Kesem and how to get more counselors to volunteer - especially men - fairly late into the semester. However, this did not work out as we had planned, so we had to change our focus and direction to focus on the group fitness program, which we wish we had done sooner.