Sunshine and Health: the Burning Issues

If we’re honest, we all covet the skins of those beautiful natural-looking tanned bodies that have us covering our white bits with shame wishing there was an emergency sun-bed nearby so we could play catch-up.

Yes, summer is (theoretically) here, and many of us will be seeking some sunshine to ensure those newly-toned muscles we’ve been developing look even more appealing at our next Hip Hop Workout®.

Yet, many sun worshippers will have a nagging fear at the back of our minds: are those rays we’re soaking up actually doing us harm? Even the most flippant among us are picking up scare stories about increased skin cancer risk, accelerated ageing and sun creams that aren’t as protective as they claim to be.

What’s all the Fuss?

The fuss is about the ultra-violet (UV) radiation that comes from the sun; specifically, it is about the 3% of that radiation that actually manages to penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere (thanks partly to our old friend the Ozone layer).

Most of the UV radiation we are exposed to is known as long-wave UV, or UVA. While this is the least dangerous form of ultra-violet, it does have the ability to alter chemical bonds deep within our body. This can lead to collagen destruction (ageing the skin), Vitamin A destruction and the creation of harmful chemicals that can damage DNA in the skin. This indirect DNA damage increases the risk of skin cancers.

Then we have our old friend, medium-wave or UVB radiation. This directly damages DNA, causing our skin to produce melanin in an attempt to soak up the rays and protect itself from damage. Melanin is responsible for that all-important tan and when our skin stops producing it – we burn, putting us at greater risk of skin cancer.

It’s Not all Bad News

Before you give up sunbathing altogether as a bad idea, researchers in the US and Norway (not renowned for its sunshine) have found evidence to support what we would all like to believe – UVB might be doing us far more good than harm.

Their study found that Australians (definitely spoiled in the sun stakes) produced over three times more Vitamin D than people living north of the equator; they also found that incidences of internal cancers were lower and those who did contract cancer were less likely to die of it. Not only does the sun produce Vitamin D, it is the primary source of this important nutrient.

To the relief of sunbathers worldwide, these researchers concluded that the small increase in mainly non-lethal skin cancers was outweighed by the increased protection against more dangerous internal cancers. Of course, you should still be responsible and avoid getting burnt, so don’t forget the sun block.

Some Facts About Sun Cream

Before you do your packing, it is worth being aware that the SPF rating on your sun block only applies to UVB radiation. This means you could be absorbing lots of UVA radiation without even knowing about it. Broad-spectrum sun protection should shield you from some UVA, but different products vary widely in exactly how much is kept out.

The Boots star system rates the percentage of UVA protection compared to UVB protection, but be careful! As this is a ratio, a three star, high SPF product could provide more UVA protection than a five star, low SPF product.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for information only and does not constitute advice. For an expert opinion, consult with your GP or a trusted healthcare expert.

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Flawless Entertainment as Hip-Hop meets Ballet

If you’ve ever wanted to see a ballet dancer attempt some B-girl floorwork in a tutu, or wondered about the battement skills of international street dance superstars, then you won’t want to miss the collaboration between Flawless and the English National Ballet, currently touring the UK.

The show ‘Against Time’ pits the dancers against an envious time-obsessed professor who, having lacked the confidence to dance himself, subjects his dance students to dull, repetitive exercises. Worse still, the grumpy man has managed to acquire a mystical hat that gives him the power to manipulate time (why does that always happen?)

Cue a rollercoaster street dance and ballet fest, with the All Star Academy (aka Flawless and the ENB) treating the audience to plenty of hip-hop breaking and funkstyle moves – not to mention the odd pirouette or two – as they embark on an entertaining and very surreal adventure. With a lively soundtrack that includes Maroon 5’s ‘Moves Like Jagger’, House of Pain’s ‘Dance Around’ and memorable tunes from Moulin Rouge and Swan Lake, there is something for everyone in this show. One of my particular favourites was the scene where the Academy guys and girls find the Professor’s journal and pass it from one to the other in an intricately choreographed piece.

So what prompted this hybridisation of styles? After meeting for the first time in 2011 at Buckingham Palace, while performing for Her Royal Highness the Queen, Flawless head choreographer Marlon ‘Swoosh’ Wallen approached one of ENB’s head director’s with some initial concepts…and it took off from there.

The collaboration proves what Street Fit® have been saying from day one: it doesn’t matter what dance background you have, you can benefit from street dance. The ENB dancers have found themselves working upper body muscles that they rarely get to use, while some of the Flawless members re-experienced their classical ballet training (yes, you read that right!). It also demonstrates the value of busting out of your comfort zone and trying something new.

It even turns out that some of the ballet queens are avid street dance fans. ENB soloist Jenna Lee is from Brixton and regularly attends the Breakin’ Convention, an international hip-hop festival.

I won’t spoil the story by revealing how Flawless and the ENB finally win their race ‘against time’ and thwart the villain, but there is a serious moral to this story: If you have a desperate desire to dance and you don’t act on it, you could end up becoming an evil, twisted professor!

Best sign up today!

Do you love Dance? Do you Love teaching, maybe you’r a dancer and/or a personal training contemplating the life changing decision?

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Are you a Slave to Success?

If you were given the choice between success and failure, I’m sure you would opt for success. But for some people, success means something so far out of reach that any attempt to reach it automatically fails. Their relentless drive to succeed turns them into slaves, never free to enjoy their progress towards a better life.

We want to promote Street Fit® as a realistic way to achieve a future of financial and creative freedom, but if you can relate to this article, your own mindset could be sabotaging your efforts.

‘It’s What you do that Matters’

This is the unspoken mantra that, ironically, could be holding many people back from the success they crave. Psychologists believe that when growing up, associating being rewarded with love for ‘doing well’ and ‘being good’ rather than simply for being ourselves may sow the seeds of the problem. If our caregivers had particularly high standards of success, we might become perfectionists, demanding the best out of ourselves and others.

The Myth of Perfection

While aiming for perfection might sound like a good thing, it can cause all sorts of problems. Instead of finding your goals a source of inspiration and motivation, they can become something to fear as you start to focus on every little mistake. Desperation to achieve can, paradoxically, lead to paralysis as you start to find excuses to avoid experiencing the feeling of failure. This can lead on to a vicious circle, as you berate yourself for procrastinating, contributing to low self-esteem.

Embrace Improvement

Real achievement comes when you learn to relax and focus less on the destination and more on the journey to the summit, enjoying the benefits of working out: the increase in energy, the gradual tightening of loose muscles, the increasing fluidity between movements as your choreography comes together. In terms of your business, notice how your organisational skills are improving, how much easier it is to talk to prospective customers, how much more time you are spending working for yourself. Measure your achievement in terms of all those little successes rather than constantly comparing yourself to an unattainable image of perfection.

Be a Role Model

Next time you are running a session, look around you. Those people are there to be inspired by you, not to be overawed by your flawless physique and unerring technique. They will be far more likely to relate to you if they see you as a normal human being who has improved their life despite their imperfections.

Imagine the day when one of your fledgling dancers becomes a successful Street Fit® Instructor in their own right and says to you, ‘thank you for inspiring me to keep on going.’ Then you will understand what real success means.

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Setting up a Newsletter

One way that small businesses can keep up with the big players without emptying their bank accounts is by launching their own online newsletter. After all, they’re relatively cheap – and sometimes free – to set up and run.

Chicken or Egg?

A common question from people who are thinking of running a newsletter is when they should start. After all, there seems little point in spending time producing something that people won’t read, but on the other hand, how are you going to attract visitors to your blog or website without providing regular content?

Problogger supremo, Darren Rowse, recommends starting a newsletter from day one. Among the reasons he gives are that it helps you to get into a routine that will help you when your readership does take off. Nevertheless, it is probably wise to start off by releasing newsletters every other week until you can justify spending more time on it.

Keep it Light

To set the tone of your newsletter, think about who your readership will be. Presumably they will be ‘get up and go’ type people who will not sit still long enough to scroll through pages of text. Learn how to use images and videos to spice up your newsletter and remember that all Street Fit® Instructors are free to use the promotional videos we’ve created.

Be a Problem Solver

People are often attracted to articles that address issues they’ve been struggling with. For example, we hope that this will answer some of your questions about the value and process of newsletter-writing! Think about what problems you could solve for your readers? They might find it difficult to get motivated on some days; they could be trying to follow a diet alongside their exercise and be looking for low-fat recipes; they may be struggling with certain hip-hop moves. As you go about your day, remain aware of what problems you face and how you address them – it might serve as inspiration for future content.

The Drip-Drip Approach

Once your newsletter is established, make sure that you release it on the same day each week. This will establish a routine for both yourself and your readers and reinforce a message of reliability. This constant flow of information serves to keep your business in the forefront of your readers’ minds. Try not to be too ‘salesy’ in your newsletters; your goal should be raising your ‘brand awareness’ rather than persuading readers to part with their money. Too much of an emphasis on selling your classes could even drive readers away.

Leverage Others

A great way to save time in producing content, while building mutually beneficent networks, is to give other relevant business owners the chance to guest-write. Perhaps you know a dietician or a hip-hop dancer who can talk about their fields of expertise, or a fitness professional in a different town or city. Ask them if they would like to contribute a feature – most people are delighted to be asked!

Track Results

If you write and design your own newsletter from scratch, investigate a deliverability service which can track how many of your emails are delivered, opened, clicked on, etc. If your newsletter is provided by a commercial ESP or list host, they probably offer a tracking service as part of the package.

There’s lots of support and information on how to keeping your core customers and pupils but first you have to offer the public something the fitness brand they require.

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Being Business Aware

Businesses never operate in a vacuum. Even the simplest business exists as part of a complex network of inter-relating factors that are always changing. A business that ignores the dynamic nature of its environment risks becoming disconnected from that network – permanently!

Savvy business owners adapt to their environment by being eternally aware of any changes that might affect them. Like a nervous spider, they investigate every disturbance to their web in case they need to act quickly.

Be Socially Aware

If class numbers start to dwindle or soar it’s only natural to get worried or elated respectively. But be careful! Business success can only accurately be evaluated in the long-term and all sorts of social factors can give you a false picture.

Take the last couple of weeks: you might have experienced a lull in your usual numbers and started getting concerned. But after a long weekend of Jubilee celebrations, it’s not surprising if a few members are feeling a bit de-motivated. If there’s a conspicuous lack of men in your group this week, they might have caught the Euro football fever. Conversely, if you’ve been excited by a surge in attendance, it could be that people in your area are trying to escape the same tournament!

By being aware of what is happening nationally and locally, you can find opportunities to take advantage. Before the Jubilee weekend you could have reminded your class that a post-party workout will burn off those cream teas. You could also have designed some ‘flee the footie’ flyers.

Be Competitor Aware

You won’t stay still and neither will your competitors. Pay close attention to the various dance/fitness promotions going on in your area and try and work out what might be behind them. Offer something different but equally enticing to your members. Keep the competition on their toes by coming up with new ways to get ahead.

Be Trend Aware

Keep a close eye on what’s happening within the street dance and hip-hop culture. Has a new film or music video been released that is getting everyone talking? Are there moves you can incorporate for your routine? Are there some popular new DJ mixes you could try working out to?

Be Customer Aware

Finally, don’t forget to be aware of how your existing members are reacting to your workouts. Do they still exude life and joy or are they beginning to look bored. If you want an honest idea of what people think about you and your class, try setting up an anonymous feedback system. Let the responses guide you to further improvements.

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Be a SWOT and a PEST

We blogged yesterday about how important it is to analyse your market, create a clear marketing strategy and organise your thoughts into a marketing plan.

Today we take a look at two analytical tools that marketers often use to assess how their business fits into the industry and the social environment as a whole.

The SWOT test discovers your businesses Strengths and Weaknesses and uses them to identify Opportunities and Threats. The PEST test looks at factors external to your business, enabling you to adapt your business to either take advantage of opportunities or limit the damage from unfavourable circumstances.

SWOT: The Internal Business Test

The SWOT test was developed by Albert Humphreys in the 1960s and involves assessing a business from the inside out. For example, a new Street Fit® Instructor might note down that their strengths include youth, enthusiasm and the brand strength of the Street Fit® name. This could translate to an opportunity to appeal to a young, image-conscious target market who might be expected to relate well to someone of their own age group.

In terms of weaknesses, this same Instructor might be new to the industry and have a problem with travelling outside of their home town. The threats to her business are from a lack of experience and restriction to where she can teach classes. Being aware of these threats will enable her to mitigate them by, for example, partnering up with a more experienced FitPro and broadening her view of what constitutes a venue (perhaps the local church or school could be approached).

PEST: The External Business Test

The PEST test divides the social environment into four areas: Political/legal, Economic, Social and Technological. The political/legal environment changes whenever a relevant policy or law is introduced that affects the industry. Perhaps a future government will insist that all dance instructors have a basic fitness qualification or tax reporting procedures might change. This might affect how you run your business and how much you need to charge customers to remain profitable.

Likewise, the shape of the economy will have a profound effect on business. Should the economy recover (we can but hope!), there will be more cash in circulation and people might feel able to spend more on a quality product. This might be a good time to raise your rates to keep demand manageable.

Social factors are largely behind the success of Street Fit®, with the public appetite for street dance high. If a particular street dance move or style becomes popular, you could capitalise by incorporating it into your routine.

Finally, technology is changing almost daily, particularly in the area of social media. Street Fit® Instructors today could take advantage of the popularity of Pinterest by pinning plenty of motivational images to their boards. Tomorrow, there could be something else on the scene.

Make a SWOT and PEST analysis part of your ongoing business analysis, and position your businesses to thrive.

Maximise your potential earnings but first become part of the StreetFit family! –http://streetfit.tv/become-an-instructor

Marketing in a Nutshell

Not everybody is going to want to come to your classes! There are certain sectors of society who are not in the slightest bit interested in street dance and wouldn’t come to a Hip Hop Workout® if you paid them. Fortunately, there is a big enough target market out there to keep you in business; the key is in rooting them out. That is what marketing is all about.

Your Marketing Strategy

The first step in marketing is to understand how ‘the market’ is made up. It is possible to categorise the public into general groups or segments, each with similar needs and preferences. These groups can include gender groups, socio-economic groups and geographical groups, for instance.

A marketing strategy is simply the way in which you intend to identify those needs that can be met by your product (i.e. Street Fit® workouts),and the details of how you will reach the relevant market sector and address those needs more successfully than your competitors. A successful marketing strategy means more members on the door and increased earnings.

An example:

You might identify that the people in your town are bored of low quality aerobics classes and are looking for a high quality alternative. As a result, you might decide to make full use of the high-definition promotional videos and professional branded marketing materials that Street Fit® make available to you. On the other hand, if people are looking for a low cost fitness option, you would focus more on providing discounts or free tasters (although it is unwise to simply reduce rates as this implies reduced quality).

Your marketing strategy should include which media channels you intend to use. All forms of promotion cost a certain amount of time and/or money, so it is always better to target your efforts rather than take a ‘shotgun’ approach.

The Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is simply the organised manifestation of your marketing strategy. Although there are various formats you can use, every marketing plan should at least contain your marketing objectives, a list of actions you intend to take to meet those objectives, and how you intend to monitor the effectiveness of those actions. A marketing plan should take a long-term view and detail how you will ensure customer satisfaction and hence retention.

Need Extra Help?

If you still feel out of your depth, don’t forget you can ask for advice other Street Fit® Instructors via our membership site (for details of how to become a member, visit http://www.streetfit.tv/shop/subscriptions/1-year-subscription-full/

There are also resources, templates and links to reputable marketing courses via the government’s free business website, www.directgov.org.

For details of two popular marketing analysis tools, see tomorrow’s blog post.

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Breaking the Business Barriers

For Street Fit® Instructors who are starting to build up a following in their local area the rewards of getting in early should soon start to become apparent. But if business is a little slower than you expect, don’t worry. Here are three common reasons why start-up businesses can struggle plus the strategies that will help you break through those early barriers to business success.

What are you Offering?

When you’re on the inside looking out, you can sometimes have a distorted view of what your potential customers see. You know that Street Fit® delivers real fitness while giving customers the chance to be creative and have fun. To others you might just be that ‘new girl’ who’s teaching ‘dance classes’.

How can you attract those ambivalent people to your class? The answer is to give them a reason to care (i.e., create a ‘value proposition’). With summer approaching, people are going to be largely split into two camps: those who want to live the Olympics and those who want to avoid it – possibly by escaping the country. Either way, there are going to be plenty of people out there dreaming of getting their bodies into shape for the summer. Tell your customers that now is the time to stop dreaming and start dancing.

Are you Getting ‘Out There’?

Some business owners know exactly what they can offer, and have no problem articulating it. However, if you want to fill classes, you need to make sure enough people get the message. Devising a marketing plan will help you target your customers more effectively and increase your efficiency. If you currently rely on using one or two media, try diversifying your marketing channels. Perhaps you could advertise via social media platforms, word of mouth and the local press. Make sure you track your results (e.g. by using promotional codes) so you can see where to focus your efforts.

For help on marketing, and any other aspects of business, the government offer a free resource at www.directgov.org. There are details of marketing courses and a free marketing strategy template to download. For more on marketing, check tomorrow’s blog post.

Get Organised

From keeping detailed records of your expenditure to analysing market trends and tracking ad responses, the more aspects of your business you can control, the less likely you are to be stung by unpleasant surprises. There is a useful maxim in business which says, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’, so don’t leave your business to chance.

Good luck for a prosperous summer!

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