A common question among school owners is, “How do I get more adults enrolled in my school?”. If you think back 30 – 40 years ago (for those of us who’ve been around that long!) martial arts classes were composed mostly of adults. It really wasn’t until the advent of Karate Kid, Power Rangers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that our market shifted to a more kid-centric mix of students.
The influx of kids was a blessing and saving grace for many schools as they added after-school programs and saw their schools grow exponentially. They were having some of their best years financially ever! But… where did the adults go? Why are they now sitting on the sidelines?
The fact is most adults want to get out on the mat. They are intrigued with the idea of learning a few self-defense techniques, or they would like to get in better shape – so what’s keeping them from joining a class?
- The most obvious reason is probably the fear of looking bad – “I’ll lose my balance when I try to kick”, “I won’t remember the next move in my kata”, “I’ll forget to bow when I step onto the mat”. It could be associated with the anxiety most people have of public speaking- fearing you’ll be judged negatively by everyone listening, or in this case, watching. A good instructor will provide positive reinforcement that makes the adult student realize mistakes are just a part of learning and make them feel they belong in class, even if others are more advanced in their training.
- Maybe the adults watch the kids and think to themselves, “I can’t do that, I have a bad back (knee, hip, etc.)”, without understanding that an adult class can be so different from a kid’s class. To make adults feel welcome at your school, you will need to make adjustments to the physical limitations that come with age. At 60, a student can’t be expected to execute that 540 Roundhouse kick that a 15-year-old can! In order to attract more adults, your classes should be tailored for different levels of fitness, health issues, and mobility ranges and you must make adults aware you will take their physical limitations into consideration.
- “I don’t have the time.” Who hasn’t heard this one? You would be hard-pressed to find any adult that hasn’t said that at least once in their life. Adults have busy schedules with many responsibilities competing for their time. Be sure you are offering a variety of class times that will fit their demanding schedules. By catering to their schedules as busy professionals and parents, you give adults a chance to see the benefits of practicing martial arts – and word-of-mouth advertising will kick in for the adult demographic!
Once your school has addressed these very common objections, you will need to then focus your marketing on the things that will appeal to your adult audience. Adults have an incredible amount to gain from joining a martial arts class self-defense, most of them just haven’t realized how beneficial and enjoyable joining a class can be. While the culturally-influenced aspect of martial arts, things such as discipline, respect, humility, and honor are most often what attracts a parent to want to enroll their child in martial arts, however, these are likely not the same things that will inspire them to join. Let’s explore the aspects of martial arts most appealing to adults that you can key your advertising around.
If asked, “Would you like to learn to protect yourself and your loved ones”, most adults would answer resoundingly, YES! Realistic self-defense programs have a more widespread appeal with the majority of the adult population than do the more traditionally-steeped/culturally-influenced methods of teaching martial arts. Market self-defense classes as a solution to real-world concerns and you will see more adult students.
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