What you’ll learn from this episode
Highlights from the interview
[12:49] – How to contract with summer camps to provide kids fitness activities as part of their curriculum
[17:21] – How she manages equipment when there can be 40 kids in her class
[21:10] – How she can charge up to $500 Australian dollars (about $445 USD) for each session she teaches!
[30:36] – Tips and the mistakes to avoid if someone wanted to offer kids fitness activities services to kids camps
About our Guest
The woman behind Fit Fantastic Fun Kids Program
Today, we’re doing the second part of our interview with Ali Cavill.
If you haven’t listened to the first part, you should definitely check it out because it has great Instagram tips and how to set up your own outdoor bootcamp.
Her biggest revenue for her fitness services is her Fit Fantastic Fun Kids Program that partners with day camps to provide fitness activities to the kids.
Besides her main business, she’s sort of an influencer by writing for magazines like Elle, Good Health and Women’s Fitness. In addition, she does some glamorous acting roles and helps with charity such as multiple sclerosis.
Edited transcription of Fitness Business Secrets Podcast, Episode 25
How to contract with summer camps to provide kids fitness activities as part of their curriculum
[12:49] Kristy: It sounds like the theme came to you and the kids loved it, but how did you even get started? You mentioned to me before we started that you had 40 to 100 kids in your program, so that’s a lot of kids.
Where do you hold the camps? Do you pay rent on it? Sometimes the kids need to be in shade here and there, and eat snacks. How do you set that up?
Ali: I actually travel around as an incursion for a vacation care center. Vacation centers and community centers run a whole day program for kids.
Part of that is an incursion where a provider will come in and deliver a one and a half hour or two hour activity, and that’s where I come in. I get booked by vacation centers, after-school centers, community centers, and schools to come in and just run that activity. Luckily for me, a lot of the other considerations are already taken into account.
The vacation care center runs by a number of rules where they already have the ratio of providers for the children. They already have the sun cream and the morning tea breaks worked out. So, I get to just sort of show up and provide the activity. A lot of the costs are already built into what I’m already delivering.
I get to just sort of show up and provide the activity. A lot of the costs are already built into what I’m already delivering.
I’ve also got an agent who does a lot of my bookings for me, which takes off that admin side. I prepare all the policies, procedures, and the invoices, and then she will handle a lot of the bookings. But, it did take a lot of legwork to begin with.
I was looking up all of the councils in my area and a bit wider, so all throughout Sydney, and I had some correspondence. I emailed them letting them know what I was doing, what I was charging, and if they had any availability and wanted to book me in.
Kristy: How was that? It sounds like you had a great background in HR, but getting your foot in the door, was it just in demand or was it a process?
Ali: Luckily, I had a lot of things on the go, so I wasn’t sort of sitting around unemployed and waiting to hear back. It sort of happened quite fluidly and things built up over each holiday to the point now where I’m fully booked.
They’ll try to squeeze in an extra session here or there, but it did grow over a few years. As it grew, I was able to shift the focus from my weekday work to being the school holidays as a huge focus.
With the school holidays, we’ll actually cover a lot of my financial costs and burden over the school term.
Kristy: How many school holidays are you doing your program?
Ali: All four holidays. Christmas, Easter, Spring, and Autumn. So, we’ve got four holidays in there. The biggest one is the summer holiday, which is about six weeks, and then the other three are two weeks.
Kristy: Got it. I wasn’t sure if summer would be considered a holiday. It’s probably different terminology.
Kristy: That’s great. That does keep you really busy because for about six weeks you’re fully busy, and then another six during the thing. When you say that you have two camps every day, does that mean you have two one and a half hour camps every day?
Ali: Yeah. I do 10:00 AM and 1230 or 1:00 PM camps, and that’s because they’re at different locations. I’ll have a bit of driving in between just to go to different centers. Sometimes, every now and again, I’ll have a booking for a two hour session, but the most popular and most common is the one and a half hours, which works really well.
For the one with two hours, you really need to be having more breaks in the middle. So, it’s economically viable for both of us, the center and me, to do the one and a half hour.
Kristy: Got it. So, it’s not even the same center.
Ali: Yes. I do quite a bit of driving, which is cool because the amounts that the centers are paying sort of covers all of that extra stuff that goes into setting up for the camp.
How she manages equipment when there can be 40 kids in her class
[17:21] Kristy: Do they provide the equipment for you?
Ali: No. I bring everything with me. I’ve got a really cool setup. If they’d just booked the bootcamp, I’ve got a separate bag for that. If it’s boxing, I’ve got separate bags for that and the yoga, so I don’t sort of have to take all of my equipment every time.
I just take whatever bootcamp they’ve booked, and I take that equipment bag along with me.
Kristy: About how many people are in each session?
Ali: The majority usually is close to 40 kids, so 35 to 40 kids. I have had with a couple of the councils up to a hundred children. With some of the smaller schools, I’ve had down to about 20 kids.
Kristy: How do you bring so much equipment? For yoga, do you really have 40 yoga mats?
Ali: No. We don’t use yoga mats for the kids’ yoga. That works out really well in that I don’t have to provide 40 mats, but we do a lot of different moves, so it’s really nothing like adult yoga.
I’ve got a couple of yoga games that I do where they’re in teams and they have to pick a card, which shows a yoga pose, and the whole team has to get into it. Then, we vote whose team looks like they’ve got in the best pose. We might move around the room being different sorts of animals in the forest.
It really works well without any obstacles such as a mat on the ground.
Kristy: That’s really cool. Anybody who’s interested in getting into kids yoga or this type of setup, they don’t need a lot of equipment.
Ali: No, they don’t. You’ve gotta be really imaginative and creative, and know what works with kids.
I’ve sort of designed a lot of my own little activities that I’ll do with them. It’s based on all the breathing within yoga where maybe we’re blowing little cotton balls along the ground to work out our breathing and different types of breathing.
It’s really good using your bodies to get into different positions and to replicate things out in our atmosphere and our environments such as water, waves, ocean, and skies.
It sort of mimics some of Tai Chi as well. It’s really good using your bodies to get into different positions and to replicate things out in our atmosphere and our environments such as water, waves, ocean, and skies.
Kristy: For the boxing kids camp, do you also not really need equipment for that?
Ali: I actually do. I was doing some high school groups each week where I was going in and teaching. They wanted to learn boxing and a little bit of self defense. Over a few years, I actually collected enough boxing equipment that I can have 40 kids participating. 20 gloves and 20 sparring pads.
Luckily, I’ve got enough of that. However, sometimes I have more than 40 kids, which is fine because with kids, they have a much shorter attention span as well. They’re happy to wait or do something else while other people are boxing.
So, I can have three groups. For instance, all three people to a team as well with the little kids, ages five and six. They’re quite good without gloves, and we do a lot of shadow boxing and moves like that. Maybe we do some kicks and knees. I’ve sort of adapted that one over time, which has been really cool to see what works.
How she can charge up to $500 Australian dollars (about $445 USD) for each session she teaches!
[21:10] Kristy: That’s really neat. I know that you do community centers and vacation places, and then some of them give you a lot of kids.
So, I would imagine that the payment set up is different. Do you usually do a flat rate? Do you do per kid? How do you usually charge?
Ali: I do two prices. One’s under 40 kids and one’s over 40 kids. The reason for that is, obviously, because of equipment. I’ll have to be either bringing, moving, or supplying more equipment, and the wear and tear on it if it’s more than 40 kids.
It’s just a manageable amount, and it just indicates the level of coaching required. If it’s under 40, I’ve got quite a system going where I have maybe in my sports boot camps, I’ve got four teams of 10 so that anything lower than 10 as well works really well.
But, when it’s over that, I’ve got to put a little bit more time into preparation. Sometimes we do a splitting, so 45 minutes for one group and 45 minutes for another group. Then, I’ve got to arrange that.
For the prices, having it over 40 does allow for that extra preparation, delivery, and effort that I’ve got to put in.
Kristy: I would imagine. I’m amazed that you can even manage 40 kids. That’s a lot of kids. I’m impressed that you nonchalantly are like, “A hundred kids.”
Ali: I actually love it. I was surprised at how easy it did come to me. Even growing up as a kid, I was the resident babysitter for every neighborhood child or for every business friend of mom and dad that had kids, and they wanted to go out for dinner.
I was the one that, still to this day, people leave their kids with. their kids will run up and the parents remarks will be, “The kids love you.” I enjoy it and they enjoy it. It works really well.
I was the one that, still to this day, people leave their kids with. their kids will run up and the parents remarks will be, “The kids love you.” I enjoy it and they enjoy it. It works really well.
Kristy: Do you do anything special for the end of the summer program?
Ali: Because it’s a different center and place every time, every camp I do, we finish up with a really cool little activity and it requires no equipment at all.
I just get them in a little group, and they’ve got to run around and give 10 different people a high five, then 13 people an elbow tap, and 14 or 15 people a knee up. Then, we all sit down together and clap.
I sort of do the same thing to finish up every camp that I do.
Kristy: Do you have the same group of kids every week at the same time, like on a Wednesday afternoon, or is it a different time?
Ali: Yeah. It’s a different group. For example, during my first week of the Easter holidays, I was booked at Castle Hill Vacation Care Centre. I might be booked at Dee Why, Cromer. So, I don’t see the same kids on each of the holidays. I might see them the next holidays if I’m back at the same center again.
Kristy: How about for the summer since you have six weeks?
Ali: No. Because for the summer, we find each center likes to book in one activity once only, and that just seems to be the way it is with a vacation care center. When a parent is paying for their child to attend, they like to see different activities every single day.
For example, they wouldn’t send them to the same zoo or the same movie. Unfortunately, it’s not per holiday. There’s no real repeat business, but you will be booked for the next holidays, which is cool.
It’s my first year doing the different camps, the yoga, and the boxing as well as the other camps, so I’m really hoping that might increase the repeat business per holiday.
Kristy: That is really smart. I think that that brings me to my next question. I think I was a little confused because I ran some summer camps for tenants in New York city, and so I have a different idea.
When you say vacation, is it still just basically a summer camp that locals send their kids to?
Ali: It’s our school holidays. Every kid that can’t go to school and their parents are working, they send them to their local vacation care center and I go into all of them. I travel Sydney wide. In fact, I actually go further than Sydney.
I do a day up our coast, down the Northern coast. It takes me about two hours to get there, but it’s kind of like a mini break even though I’ve got to work in the middle of it. It’s for all the kids that their parents can’t look after them during the school holidays.
Kristy: When you mentioned the community and school, I thought that those were regulars. I thought vacation was for resorts.
Ali: Not yet. That’s a little bit of the terminology because I know your summers are different from ours. Our summer holidays are our Christmas holidays. When it becomes school holidays, it’s essential they go to the center. It’s like daycare centers, but for older kids. From kindergarten to year six, it’s our primary school. So, it’s ages five to 12.
Kristy: So, do you do ages five all the way to 12 or do you have a specific group that you were focused on?
Ali: The centers have ages five to 12. They allow those kids. If it’s over 40 kids, I will group them on ages just because of the abilities of the kids. If it’s less than 40, we generally just go altogether and I mix up the teams. However, sometimes the centers prefer to do it in their own little groups.
They might have ages five through to seven together, and then eight through to 12 together.
Kristy: About how much do you charge for the under 40 and the over 40 groups?
Ali: Over 40 is negotiable. It depends on how they want to do it. If they want to do a two hour session, we have a one hour splitting up the kids. We’ll negotiate a price there, but you’re looking around between $450 to $500 (Australian).
Kristy:That’s great. That’s Australian dollars, right?
Kristy: Got it. What about for under 40?
Ali: For under 40, it’s about $400.
Kristy: You do this all by yourself. You don’t even have a staff person helping you.
Ali: No. I guess I’m just sort of a self starter and I just thought this is a great idea. I started doing it and it’s growing and growing. The reason I haven’t brought on someone else is because of the extra cost.
If I was going to branch out as I hope to do over the next couple of years and have an extra staff member, I then have two camps running at different centers, rather than having an extra person with me because the vacation care centers have to have their quarter of staff on anyway.
So, I’m able to run it and they have their staff supervising and dealing with any incidents, issues, or disciplinary issues there.
Kristy: That’s really good. That makes sense. If they didn’t, you could possibly charge them more.
I’ve never been one to charge more than what the market is out there. I’ve kept my prices pretty low and don’t sort of unnecessarily put them up.
Ali: Yeah. Although, I’ve never been one to charge more than what the market is out there. I’ve kept my prices pretty low and don’t sort of unnecessarily put them up.
Kristy: That sounds really interesting. If you were to grow, do you already have schools asking you for more times? Will you have to push marketing farther?
Ali: No. I think I would have to market a little bit, but what I would have is an extra staff member as a casual.
If I got second bookings or same day bookings, then I would use them then, so I wouldn’t sort of have to be paying them unless we used them. One of the other things is I would then have to have a second set of equipment, and that’s one of the big expenses.
For example, I wouldn’t want to be laying out another set of 40 boxing gloves, especially if I wasn’t going to be getting a lot of bookings. That’s why it’s on my list, but I’ve got to work out the logistics and really figure out what’s going to be best for me and my business.
Tips and the mistakes to avoid if someone wanted to offer kids fitness activities services to kids camps
[30:36] Kristy: That makes sense. Just wrapping up, it sounds like a really strong business here.
What would be the tips and the mistakes to avoid if someone wanted to start a similar business servicing schools and providing fitness kids’ activities?
Ali: One of the things I found was that I was getting equipment and I just wasn’t able to comfortably move it around or use it. So, I’ve really downsized my equipment and I go for light things that are portable.
I’ve worked out what works and what doesn’t work, and I’ve made sure that the equipment can be transported around easily. That would be one of my biggest learnings. Trying to take anything too heavy was just not working.
I’ve worked out what works and what doesn’t work, and I’ve made sure that the equipment can be transported around easily.
Also, to be adaptable and fluid, so I can literally arrive at a center and they’ve changed how many kids they’ve got or or the day it’s raining.
That happens often. It’s raining and I’m doing an outdoor boot camp with them. So, you’ve got to be adaptable, to have your fallback plans and the mindset to go with that.
Ultimately, you just want to have a lot of fun with the kids and get them moving, active, and occupied for that time. It doesn’t have to run to the exact format that you’ve used last time.
Kristy: That makes sense. Those are two really good ones. I liked the equipment thing and you still have that problem because we had a transporter tennis net.
Ali: I’ve really had to sort of work out because as I get better and better at the camps, I want to add on things every now and again. For example, I had the big parachute and they loved it. In my one-on-ones with adults training sessions, I started to use a resistance chute. The kids loved it, but the one that I had was adult size.
I found online these little child size resistance chutes. I brought them along as well, and I’ve used them a lot of the time. If we’ve got some extra time at the end or if there’s a smaller amount, people think the big groups are the hardest, but actually sometimes it will be the even smaller groups because you run through every activity so much quicker.
Then, you’re sitting there thinking, “What will I do to finish this time?” You’ve got to have things that’ll work if you’ve got time left over or things that’ll work if some of the activities you do just do not work with that group of kids.
Kristy: Right. Do you have any tips for people starting kids camps on how to get ideas for activities?
Ali: Yeah. I’ve just done a lot of research online. I’ve sort of looked at what games work, how you can do them, and then looking at what equipment is on offer. A lot of the equipment stores have children’s equipment. That will give you the idea as to what’s selling out there, what schools are using, what kids are enjoying, and maybe what you could afford to buy and take and start to use, but also to use your strengths.
What sport was it that you loved as a kid? Can you go in and do that sport? Can you deliver that sport? I absolutely love netball, and I still work for Netball New South Wales casually, but I decided to do a few of my little relays and games using netball bibs and netball balls. Use your strengths.
Kristy: I love it. That’s awesome. Well, this has been really helpful. I think it’s a really great framework for anyone who wants to grow their fitness business in the kids direction. If anybody wanted to reach out to you, how could they contact you?
Ali: My Instagram is @alifitfantastic. My Facebook is Fit Fantastic, so they can reach me online. I’m always on there.
Kristy: That’s awesome. Well, you clearly have social media skills with 20,000 followers and a really exciting growing business, so I’m excited to hear how it goes, and I’m sure you’ll have a big staff in the next few years.
Ali: Thank you. It was amazing to talk to you, and I hope you and all your listeners are going really well today.
Stay connected with Ali!
Kristy: I appreciate it. Thanks so much Ali.
Ali: Thank you. See you later.