By Jane Bahneman, Special FBA Contributor

This June marks two full years that my brick-and-mortar has been operating in COVID times. We are situated in a highly COVID-sensitive area of the country, in addition to being in a very transient neighborhood. I’ve had to be nimble in my member retention strategies.

While my digital space, mobile studio, and private teaching contracts have been pivotal in our business’ stabilization, I remain ever diligent about the brick-and-mortar operational practices we deploy to surge towards full recovery. There is no longer such thing as plug and play/set it and forget it. Today’s world requires constant re-evaluation and tweaking.

In many parts of the nation, we are still predictably unpredictable. As the world is opening up, we head into the sunny summer months of vacations and outdoor fun! It continues to be a practice in patience as we figure out what “best practices” actually mean now here in our brick-and-mortar businesses in 2022.

One thing that has stayed steady from “before” is the success of small fitness business enterprises heavily reliant on member engagement and building relationships with members. How that looks here in 2022 might be very different, but at its root, remains important.

Here are some member engagement tips that work in my brick-and-mortar that might be useful in yours, too!

Have systems for success

From the moment your clients walk in the door, to the experience they have in class or in sessions, to the moment they walk out – have you intentionally created the member experience? Write it out. Outline your why and literally create your how. Then be sure each staff member knows it and executes it.

Design a solid digital strategy

Keeping members engaged in this new world is multi-faceted (in a new, good way!). Over the last two years, we’ve realized the power of connecting through the screen in ways we never believed possible before. Use this to your advantage now. Evaluate your online offerings, social media presence, digital content plan, and e-blast messaging, too.

Be uniquely you

In a very noisy world, consider ways to engage your member base that can set you apart. It might be as simple as the special way you greet folks, a member USPS mailer, a catchy weekly e-blast, a monthly member-only event, and so on. Let your member engagement efforts be as unique as your business – and let this effort match your distinct voice and spirit. It will be something your members remember, something that sets you apart.

With the many stressors of the last few years, running a brick-and-mortar can get overwhelming. We are operating in a period of growing inflation likely with fewer managers and less staff. You are likely still recovering. Compounding this with complicated business processes may only lead to a lack of follow-through and ultimate burnout.

In summary, when it comes to new client flow and ongoing member engagement, perhaps the most important aspect is to execute simple efforts with great consistency. Invest wisely in all ways and watch your business steady itself and grow, always!

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Jane Bahneman, MS, is the owner of Nectar Yoga Studios outside of Washington DC.  Jane has been teaching fitness and yoga and speaking nationally for over two decades. She has held leadership roles in prestigious fitness & wellness settings and is the President Jane Bahneman Consulting business coaching for aspiring entrepreneurs. Jane served on the American Council on Exercise Industry Advisory Panel and sits on the Advisory Council for the Fitness Business Association. Her certifications include: ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist; NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist; ACE Certified Group Exercise Instructor; ACE Certified Health Coach, Yoga Alliance E-RYT 500 and Prenatal-RYT.

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