Don’t be content with satisfying your customers

When I work with a client, I look to build a relationship and create something amazing together. I enjoy working with entrepreneurs who share my values for building community and putting good energy out in the world. When I work with a client I become one of their biggest cheerleaders as we work towards providing their clients with an amazing event experience. I aim to help fitness and wellness entrepreneurs turn satisfied customers into raving fans.

Do you havesatisfied customers or raving fans_

Think about that: satisfied customers and raving fans. Which would you rather have? 

Any business can have a satisfied customer: I order my meal at a restaurant and it’s cooked properly and tasty and doesn’t break the bank. I’m a customer who is satisfied. But imagine if that restaurant recommended the perfect wine to complement my meal, the chef personally came to check on my meal, and the manager mentioned how appreciative she was of my Instagram food post (not that I Instagram everything I eat) and invited me to come back next week for my birthday dinner. Now I’m a raving fan! I not only love what they do, but the why they do it. It’s obvious they are passionate about building relationships with their customers and they expressed it! Some of the best business advice I’ve received is to remember that people don’t buy into what you do, they buy into why you do it.

So, how do you create raving fans with an event? Here a few tips to keep in mind when planning your next event:

  • build a relationship: take the time to meet the people who attend your attend and connect on a personal level
  • go above and beyond: give them more than they need, whether it be extra swag or refreshments
  • be real: let customers see that you are a real person with a passion for what you do
  • say thank you: don’t forget to thank people for supporting you and your business
  • invite them to join you: invite people to join you in your passion for a charitable cause or strengthening the community

 

A handful of raving fans will be more valuable to growing your business than dozens of satisfied customers. 

Email shannon@merakieventplanning.com and let’s get started creating a fan-building event experience!

 

Get more by giving back

Growing up as a Girl Guide and member of a church community, I took part in charity activities regularly. As an adult I have made charity a regular thing by participating in Relay for Life organizing committees, serving on the board of a local children’s fundraiser and handing out care packages to the homeless. I’m a big fan of doing rather than simply giving, which is why I’m drawn to events that support community causes and charities. As a fitness enthusiast I love participating in runs that support a charity I believe in. It feels good to know my registration fee is doing some good. As an event planner, I love when fitness and wellness entrepreneurs share my enthusiasm for events with a purpose.

get more by giving back

One fun event I have the honour of working on that supports a valuable community organization, promotes active living, and the support local movement is the Falmouth TrALE Run. This event is the perfect example of a how an entrepreneur uses a community-building event to not only promote her own business but to support the local ground search and rescue group.

Another event with a cause that I’ve been working on for a client happens this Thursday. The No Pain, No Pain Holistic Health Seminar is a free networking and lecture event that 100% supports the Shelbourne Community Kitchen. Horizons Holistic Health Clinic approached me with an idea to host a free event promoting holistic approaches to pain management. This allows the clinic to showcase their skills and services while also promoting those of other local practitioners. Tickets are free but we are requesting attendees bring a donation of money or pantry items.

If the event gives money to a cause or if the event is free, how is it worthwhile for a business invest time and money in hosting an event in support of a cause? 

  • supporting a charity by raising funds and increasing awareness is good karma
  • you can reach a new base of potential clients and expand your network
  • potential clients and the community at large will view your business as community-minded and charitable
  • establish credibility by giving the community a chance to see you in action doing what you do best
  • advertise your business without actually advertising your business

reasons to host an event with a cause

Are you ready to get more business by giving back to a cause? Email shannon@merakieventplanning.com to get started planning!

What I learned from a flexibility training class

I have mentioned that I’ve been taking a splits training class from Luna Mammon at Amethyst Dance & Fitness since the end of November. I’m a runner and my hip flexors and glutes are always angry at me so I figured it was worth a shot. So, now I’m 4 months in and I’ve learned some valuable lessons from taking a class dedicated to flexibility.

  • I am judgmental. Seriously, I am way too hard on myself as I point out that I’m usually the oldest person in the class and I’m the only mom in the class. I’ve got a soft tummy and I should be closer to the ground than the person next to me. STOP IT, SHANNON! Shut the eff up and just go with it! I have started reminding myself that the studio mirror is not there to put me down, it’s there to reflect my progress.
  • You do you, I’ll do me. As I struggle to get my crotch to the wall, I look over at the girl who has been a trained dancer for 20 years and remind myself that she’s on a different path than I am and that’s ok. Why would we be at the same level? It’s crazy to expect that of myself! I don’t need to be where she is right now because I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and I’m always moving forward. I celebrate my classmates achievements but I’ve stopped looking at their reflections in the mirror and am focused on my own.
  • I don’t give myself enough credit. I have not missed a single class since I started and I even practice at home on my own. Last week, when Luna suggested we try the bird of paradise pose at the end of class, I managed to get my arms twisted around my torso and even stood up! I have made progress with my front and middle splits and I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come so far. Sure, you won’t see me performing with Cirque du Soleil anytime soon, but I’m better than I was.
  • I’m bad at taking compliments. A month or so ago a girl in the class praised me for my progress and the first words out my mouth were “no…not really”. I thought about it afterwards and was annoyed with myself for brushing off a valid comment on my valid progress. I HAVE improved significantly and it is NOT rude or egotistical to acknowledge that! I am making a conscious effort to accept compliments.
  • I’m becoming a better runner. Each week I spend an hour in the studio where I focus on activating specific muscles and breathing through difficult moments and all of this has improved my running. I can feel my glutes turning on as I take my first strides and I feel stronger and smoother with each step. In my opinion EVERY runner needs to take a flexibility class.
  • My feet need attention, too. How many of you strengthen your feet on a regular basis? Half of you who raised your hands are probably lying. Luna’s class and Eric Orton’s “The Cool Impossible” have taught me that we all need to spend time stretching and strengthening just our feet. Think of how much weight and stress those appendages bear on a daily basis! Give them the love and attention they deserve.
  • Mind over matter. A lot of my flexibility journey has been mental rather than physical. I carry so much tension in my pelvis (apparently a lot of women do) and I’m learning to let it go bit by bit. As I acknowledge the hurt and emotion I am trapping in my body, my hamstrings are loosening up and my mind is clearing. Holding the middle splits position for 2 minutes is intense but you need that time to tell yourself to relax and let go and feel yourself sink deeper into the stretch and closer towards your goal.
  • Embracing new challenges is central to self-improvement. This splits class has opened my eyes to how I see others and how I see myself. While some of my friends think I’m a nutbar for taking this on, I see it as an opportunity to spend time with people I wouldn’t normally get to be with and it’s become almost a meditation practice. I spend a lot of time with my eyes closed, really focused on what I want my body to do and how I need to use my mind to get there. I see myself as a more open and accepting person (of others and of myself) than I was before walking into that studio.

A tree that is unbending is easily broken.-Lao Tzu

What does this mean for you my readers?

  • If you are a runner reading this, find some way to incorporate more flexibility training into your routine. Your hip flexors will thank you!
  • Are you a fitness enthusiast? Do you spend at least 15 minutes day stretching? Strength is a huge component of improving flexibility and I guarantee you will see gains.
  • If you are a fitness instructor, do you focus enough on flexibility with your clients? Do they know how to stretch everything to complement their strength and cardio routine?
  • Does your gym or studio offer a flexibility training class?
  • Discover your mental (and maybe even emotional) blocks to seeing progress in others areas of your health and fitness. Learn to identify them and breathe through them.

I would love to hear about your flexibility journey! Have you achieved getting the splits or have you seen significant improvements in other areas of fitness because of flexibility training? Email me! shannon@merakieventplanning.com 

 

Don’t forget to take your medicine

As a longtime (lifetime?) sufferer of anxiety, medication is just a part of my daily routine.  There are times when I’ve had a chart to check off all of my various prescriptions and vitamins and other supplements. I acknowledge anti-anxiety drugs will be with me for the rest of my life. (Since I was 20 I have been through several courses of cognitive behavioural therapy, have read countless books, and sought advice from psychologists, naturopaths, and psychiatrists alike. I did wean off my prescription a few years ago and went without for a few months, but needed to go back on the lowest dose. I believe my anxiety and occasional bouts of depression are biochemical, not situational.) 

Recently one part of my dose ran out and I discovered from the pharmacist that there were no refills left on it. I do not have a family doctor (anybody else in this situation?) and decided to wait to visit my local overwhelmed walk in and go without the extra 37.5mg for a week. This got me thinking about how I need to refocus on my other meds more. Other meds? Vitamins, meditation, and you guessed it…exercise.

Before I weaned off my meds a few years ago, I was on a very high dose of Effexor XR. So high that many doctors raised their eyebrows at it at first. During the weaning process, I leaned more on Vitamin D, B vitamins, and my fitness regime. Now that I’m living on the uber-health conscious west coast and am swimming in a sea of hemp hearts and chia seeds, I too am more aware of non-pharmaceutical treatments for anxiety and depression.

Exercise as medicine_

I can feel the difference that 37.5mg makes but the moment I feel my chest tighten I lace up and hit the road. When thoughts start racing, I grab my mat and assume a pose. I’m working hard to earn my 13,000 steps a day. I never feel better than after a good run along the ocean and through the woods. I am using exercise as medicine, and I am recommitting myself to a higher dosage.

 

If you live in the Victoria area, join us on March 29th for No Pain, No Pain. Dr. Kevin Sommerfeldt will be discussing exercise as medicine. Other speakers will discuss the role of nutrition and other holistic approaches to pain management. The event is free and we encourage you to bring donations of cash/pantry items for the Shelbourne Community Kitchen.

 

Is the fitness industry open to everybody?

My upcoming birthday has had me reflecting and questioning most things in my life, but especially my own self image and how that fits in to the fitness industry. When I attended Amanda Vogel‘s session on social media and fitness at CanFitPro’s Vancouver FitExpo, it left me all fired up and seriously questioning how the fitness industry (which one would think promotes healthy, active lifestyles), seems to promote tanning, fat-shaming, and rock-hard-difficult-to-attain examples of strict dieting and constant semi-nude selfie-taking. What the hell am I a part of? Is the fitness industry really about promoting health? Is fitness really for EVERYone?Is fitness for everyone_

When I first walked into the fitness world I was young and thin and firm. Now I’m almost 40 and have a bit of a mummy tummy and some spots are softer than I’d like them to be. I’m making a conscious effort to not be too hard on myself and I have some worthy fitness goals I’m digging at (#goaldigger.) I consider myself to be fit but not in peak condition. I can run a 10k without keeling over and I can squeeze out more than a few burpees without barfing. I’d love to be able to do a few chin-ups and turn my flab into abs, but I’m a work in progress and I’ll eventually get there with hard work and dedication.

I’m wondering about all of those newbies to fitness. Those guys and gals dipping their toes in the water of physical activity and who are looking to our industry for guidance. I’m scared that we’re scaring people away with our #fitnessmotivation and #gymselfies (seriously, go search these # on Instagram right now then come back.)  I’m personally not motivated by the majority of these photos. In fact, they reinforce my negative self-talk and make me feel less than.

Think about what you post and what your hashtags are. Who are they for? Are you trying to motivate people or attract new clients? That’s fine and dandy but get clear on who you want your clients to be. Get clear on what motivates them and what their obstacles to achieving better health through fitness might be.Could your rock solid abs be one of them? 

In the coming weeks I’ll be discussing more about the fitness industry and it’s role in body image, how women and men experience body image, and even the topic of fit-shaming. If you have a story to share or thoughts on the topics mentioned, please email me shannon@merakieventplanning.com. 

Who am I?

A questions we all ask ourselves from time to time, but in an effort to connect with my followers and potential clients here we go:

  • I was born and raised in Nova Scotia, except for brief time spent in France and South Carolina
  • 2nd of 5 children: one older brother, one younger brother, two younger sisters
  • was involved in drama, photography, yearbook, council, peer mediation in high school
  • studied psychology at Acadia University before transferring to human kinetics at the University of Ottawa
  • discovered fitness through the lens of athletic therapy, and although I’m not an athletic therapist, I’m glad it led me here
  • worked in the recreation departments of various private schools after graduation
  • worked as a kinesiologist in the rehab field for 3 years
  • certified as a Personal Trainer Specialist with CanFitPro in 2005
  • ran my first 5k in 2011, ran my first 10k in 2014
  • I was Princess New Minas 1997 in the annual Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival
  • I used to work on Parliament Hill for Scott Brison, Member of Parliament
  • I drink too much coffee and not enough water

 

#IAmStrong celebrates International Women’s Day

Something amazing happened in a little village in Nova Scotia on Saturday morning. A group of women filled a gymnasium and celebrated their strength and claimed their power.

I had the pleasure of organizing the 2nd annual #IAmStrong Workout in Honour of International Women’s Day, hosted by Fitness Junkies with special guest, The Yoga Hen Adventures.  Attendees were coached through an empowering one-hour bootcamp workout followed by a cleansing yoga practice, with the reminder to never apologize for being a powerful f*#king woman. (Don’t you just feel more powerful looking at that tank?)NeverAPologize

This event was born out of a need for women to come together and acknowledge the strength we already have. We are mothers and partners and daughters and sisters and we are important to so many people in our lives. We as women need to celebrate our abilities here and now and love who we are! There is nothing more powerful than a women who knows her own strength and isn’t afraid to share it with the world.

Last year, the event supported the Evangeline Middle School breakfast program and this year the beneficiary of funds raised is Girls on Boards. What better way to acknowledge International Women’s Day than by having a community of women support a community of young girls in learning to love and accept themselves?

IAmStrong2018 Apologizeshirts

I wish I could have been there to sweat and laugh and spend the morning with my East Coast tribe, but I shared their story with the women at the One Woman Fearless Summit here in Victoria. I’m looking forward to #IAmStrong 2019 and to encouraging more women to join the #IAmStrong movement!

Check out this video  and see for yourself! Video, photos, and those amazing shirts courtesy of Jenna Croft.