By Patrick Craig, Special FBA Contributor

Recently, the move in the fitness industry has been away from the lone-wolf model. This is the fitness club where you check in, you see one or two people that you know, you look around until you find your trainer and you work out.

Or you just go to your favorite machine and climb on. You go alone and you leave alone. But as we head toward 2024, our industry is seeing another paradigm shift—a shift toward fitness as a community rather than an isolated personal discipline. The clubs that are moving in this direction are focusing on several key elements. These are some of them.

Community Means Connection

A fitness facility that creates a sense of community among members can be an incredibly powerful tool for keeping your clients, and clubs are recognizing this approach as truth. 

Encouraging social interaction among members before, during, and after sessions or classes can create a sense of belonging and responsibility. Clubs that host regular events or create small workout groups members can join find that members are taking a much more active interest. If your gym software has ZOOM capabilities, you can create online communities—for discussions, for swapping training and diet plans, or making it possible for your clients to just get together for an online workout with folks they know. 

Friendly competition is also  a great way to promote this sense of community. You could consider creating challenges or contests that encourage members to work together and achieve common goals. I know one club that sponsors a sixty-day weight loss challenge. One of my personal fitness adventures was a twenty-five-day KETO challenge where I lost twenty-five pounds. In the process, everyone involved was encouraging the other participants—a simple event that built a sense of fellowship and common purpose. 

To further reinforce a sense of community, celebrate member successes and feature members on your website or social media channels. This will foster a sense of pride in the community and encourage members to feel invested in ‘their’ studio’s success. 

Developing Your Customer Service

A community-driven fitness facility fosters strong relationships with your members to help them feel a part of something important. Providing exceptional customer service is a crucial component of this effort and the key is creating a welcoming and encouraging environment. By doing so, you help members feel valued and connected to your facility. If they feel connected and appreciated, they are more likely to renew memberships and bring friends and relatives on board with them.  

Here’s how it works. Your team should always greet members warmly and engage with them during their workouts. The best staff members remember names and fitness goals and are always available to offer support and encouragement. Members who know staff are invested in their goals are more likely to pursue their fitness objectives. 

Make sure your team members go above and beyond for members. Incentivize your staff by offering rewards for positive reviews from members, recognizing staff members who consistently provide excellent service, or encouraging staff to come up with creative ways to support members. If the people who work at your club feel like they are part of something making a difference, this generates a culture of excellence that benefits your members and your business. 

And here’s a key—ensure your staff are happy in their jobs. If your team is stressed or overworked, your members will notice immediately. Create a positive work environment for every staff member, and don’t give them jobs where they can’t excel. 

Consistent Community-Wide Communication

A community-oriented fitness business uses various channels, such as email, social media, and regular newsletters, to keep members updated on upcoming events, new programs, and any changes in the schedule. 

Set up automated messages to welcome new members and offer them new members specials on training or products. Your email program should have variables that will insert members' names to personalize the message. If you have a survey attached to their membership record, you can acknowledge their individual fitness goals. This will create a stronger connection between them and your facility.

It’s also important to use these channels to gather feedback from members and act on it to show that their opinions matter to you. A progress survey that allows members to input how they think they are doing, compared with input from your trainers, would let the members know you care about their fitness and well-being.

Consider offering exclusive perks to your members through your communication channels, like discounts or free credits: it’ll pay off for you in the long run. Maybe your email subscribers get early access to sign up for classes, or discounts on merchandise. This will make them feel special and valued and further increase their loyalty. 

Remember all the good work you did to highlight what makes your gym special? Don’t stop communicating the great values your club offers. That’s a great way to build a loyal and committed member base. 

Creating Brand Agents 

One of the best ways to keep members is by turning them into brand agents. These are members who are so enthusiastic about your club that they actively promote it to others—both prospects and members. 

Build excitement in your potential ambassadors by focusing on providing exceptional experiences. That means taking everything in your studio—the service, the scheduling, the tech you use to manage your members—to the highest level it can be. Remember, a member walking down the street sporting your t-shirt or hat is better than $1000 worth of Facebook ads.

Build a strong social media presence. Use social media to showcase member successes, promote upcoming events, and share news about your gym. Encourage members to engage with your social media channels by sharing their own gym experiences or tagging your gym in their posts. Start offering referral incentives. Encourage your members to invite their friends and family to your studio, and offer them discounts, free classes, or other incentives for each new member they bring in. New business and better retention all in one.

Use the Best Fitness Business Software

Managing a fitness studio requires more than just physical work—it requires the right technology. Investing in best-in-class fitness business software can help streamline and simplify studio operations while providing a significantly better experience for members. 

One of the key features of top-notch fitness software is convenient scheduling and booking. With the right platform, your members can easily book classes and sessions, manage their accounts, and even make payments online. 

This not only saves your staff time but also enhances the convenience and accessibility for members, making them more likely to continue using your studio. The best platforms will also automate communications around all that. 

Besides scheduling and booking, fitness business software can provide you with valuable insights into your business performance. This can include tracking member attendance and engagement, financial data, and even member feedback. A software that provides a record of member check-ins for insurance remittance is a great incentive for your older clients.

The list of things the best technology platforms can do and how they will impact your business is long. The main point is this: choosing the right fitness business software can be a game-changer for your studio. It can help you provide a seamless experience for your members and give you valuable tools to manage and grow your business. Investing in the right technology can help take your fitness studio to a new level. 

Building a Fitness Community

Keeping members is crucial for the long-term success of your fitness business. It is an ongoing process that requires dedication and effort from you and your staff. By continually striving to improve the member experience, you can build a loyal fitness community that supports the long-term success of your business. 

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Patrick Craig has worked in the Marketing Industry for the past twenty years. He is a published author and has written extensively about the fitness industry, particularly the gym software aspect of it. He has been with Money Movers, Inc. for the last six years where he serves as the Marketing and Operations Manager, web designer and coder, and maintains the custom websites Money Movers, Inc. develops for their Online Business Manager gym software clients.

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