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The Importance of Building a Fitness Community for Your Studio

two men lying on the floor after a hard workout

Did you know that the happiest people are those who engage with other people?

Well, statistically speaking this is true. Findings from a recent Gallup-Healthways Happiness-Stress Index found that people who had face to face contact with people for up 6 to 7 hours a day where far happier than does who didn’t. By nature, we are social creatures, so it makes sense that connections with other people are central to our happiness.

The emergence of boutique fitness as a game changer in the fitness industry has highlighted the importance of creating a fitness community in your studio. Boutique fitness is largely defined by its class-based group training and this trend has risen in popularity in recent years. ASCMs Worldwide Study of Fitness Trends, which is conducted annually, has group training at number two. The trend has always been in and around the industry for a while but it is only in the last number of years has it really come to prominence. It was only in 2017 that the trend broke into the top 20 of ASCMs survey, coming in at number 6.

Recently there have been more and more studies that back up the theory that running group classes in your studio delivers a higher rate of retention. Recently, a Nielsen study of more than 3,000 participants of group fitness classes around the world highlighted that more than 85% of class members visit their facility twice a week specifically to engage in group classes. And 43% of members visit their facility four times per week for this purpose.

So why are people turning to group fitness instead of working out individually?

The answer lies in the sense of community that is generated from working out in a group. In this article we will take a dive into what it really means to build a sense of community in your fitness studio, why is it important and the steps you need to take to create a community in your studio.

What is the Meaning of Community in Fitness Studios?

In a strong community culture the owner and the instructors having an invested interest in the success of their members. And this means regular communication. An IHRSA study in 2017 found that 90% of studio members value consistent communication from staff.  The staff should create an atmosphere in which everyone is comfortable and confident they can reach their fitness goals. 

As well as making sure that those relationships are built between the staff and the customers, community also means positive relationships between the members themselves. Additionally, people motivate as well as challenge each other to take part in rigorous workouts and work towards their fitness goals. Overall, the real meaning of community in a fitness studio is to make people feel welcome as soon as they walk in the door.

For many, the gym can be quite an intimidating place, and by creating a sense of community with classes at your studio, it will ensure that clients keep returning. The same IHRSA Report found that the risk of cancellation is 56% higher among members who just use gym equipment vs. those who exercise in groups. We discussed this retention statistic and more that relate to group fitness in our article on gym membership retention statistics. 

Whether you own a boxing, HIIT, Crossfit, or yoga studio, a community feeling can make people comfortable and give them a sense of family in your facility. This also means that people will be talking about your business to family and friends thus bringing in client referrals.

Of course, building a friendly community feel can be difficult and frustrating too. People are stuck in their busy lives and are sometimes unwilling to take part in things apart from their workouts. Meanwhile, some people come to the fitness studio with a “no new friends” mentality. Such people just hit the gym, do their fitness regime, and head home. However, over time and with the right mentality people tend to cave in and grow fond of the new fitness family.

Why Is a Fitness Community Important?

Building a community revolving around health and fitness is quite essential. From the first time when the client enters the studio and until the class is finished, the goal of building a community is to utilize their time in the best manner. This isn’t only about physical exercise. In fact, it’s more about obtaining peace of mind and mental clarity once the class is over.

A Place to Collectively Achieve Goals

A community is such a place where people feel comfortable with failing at accomplishing their daily fitness goal just as often as they succeed. It is only through failure that one truly grows. So, building a fitness community is basically building a place where failure is not the end of the world. At the same time, pushing your limits is encouraged here, thus resulting in progress.   

In the end, a supportive community is such a place where people of various ages and backgrounds come together to carry out their workout routine. They all also have the goal in mind which is just to be better.

A Fitness Community Yields Great Results

Apart from the culture present within the community, people opt for functional fitness in a community because of the results it produces. At some point, it might have crossed your mind that why would people want to join group fitness classes when they work out on their own at just a part of the cost?

Well, working out as a part of the community helps to keep the people within it motivated. Plus, there’s a level of accountability that training alone can never bring about. These relationships and camaraderie  help to add the element of purpose and intensity in an individual’s workout. Ultimately, the workouts yield excellent results. Moreover, the sense of accomplishment that is created makes members eagerly wait for their next session.

Clients Get Personal Attention

The instructor that leads the classes works to not only educate but also motivate the clients. This cultivates a sense of semi-private personal training within the group. A fitness studio should make the clients feel that they’re receiving personal attention. In a fitness community, the coach genuinely cares if you fail to show up, creating a sense of care.

Can You Have an Online Community Based on Fitness?

As we have discussed in The Fitness Marketing Guide for the Modern Fitness Founder, an online community for your fitness studio is a must in todays world. By putting in the time and effort to maintain an online community for your members you will greatly enhance their experience.

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Set up a Group on Facebook or WhatsApp

It can safely be assumed that over 90% of your client base owns a smartphone. By having a group set up on Facebook or WhatsApp you can post updates and provide small tidbits of information on nutrition and training. In addition, you can get the clients to support and communicate with each other when they’re not in the studio.

They Have Access to Pools of Knowledge

There’s no doubt that a network has more knowledge as compared to an individual. So, when certain questions come to a members mind like how they should cook with coconut oil or how to add more proteins their diet, they’ll find all the answers within your network. 

There’s Tremendous Influence and Support

It is no secret: people you surround yourself with have an influence on you. So, if you’re the only person within your existing circle that makes staying fit and healthy a priority, you need to get influenced and motivated from somewhere else. This why an online group can help motivate and encourage a member if they feel they are losing their way slightly.   

How do you Build a Fitness Community?

As mentioned earlier, building a fitness community can be a struggle, but the following tips can surely make the process easier.

Define Your Mission

Note that your mission is the main reason people will join your community. In fact, your mission also determines whether people want to stay in your community. If your mission resonates with them, they’ll be there.

However, there is no point in creating values and finding your voice if you are not going to transfer that into the real world.

The things you say and stand for have to be present every day in your studio. Only then will be a living and breathing mission  and not just a nice idea you have created

Put simply, you have to practice what you preach.

Organize Field Trips, Contests, and Leaderboards

You can have a leaderboard going on in your fitness studio to build a sense of community. Have a leaderboard on your whiteboard and let your clients challenge each other in various events. Not only will this create some good old-fashioned competition, but it will also get people to support each other while also working towards being on the top.

Even if you have an online fitness community, this technique will work. You can just post the combined workout start in your group chats.  

You can also hold a variety of contests at different times throughout the year. Some examples of great challenges include the 21-day challenge, class attendance contest, and even a competition for who gets the highest number of workouts within a month.  

Another excellent way of building the community is to organize some field trips out of your fitness studio. This will get the clients together in a different, and much more relaxed environment. For instance, you could hold an annual New Year or Christmas party at a restaurant nearby. Or, you could go on hikes or a rock climbing gym to not only have a strength test but also to have just fun.

It might be the case that many clients just want to try out some new activities. However, they might not have someone to try them out with it, or they are just too scared. So, who is better at getting them to step out of their comfort zone if not their fitness family?

Make New Clients Feel Welcome by Introducing to Seasoned Veterans and Coaches

This is perhaps the most important of all. When a new client walks through the doors, they are most likely nervous which is why it’s important to do anything possible to make them comfortable.

The chances of the client returning if he or she is ignored or feels left out are quite low. So, introducing the client to other coaches or seasoned veterans and asking them to motivate the new clients with their experience can work wonders.

Start working on building your community!

Of course, the support of the fitness community that you build won’t take place overnight. However, you must know that it is surely worth it. So don’t be discouraged if no one is willing enough to take part in the very first contest you hold or attend the very first field trip that you arrange. Stick at it and it the long term the results you want will come. 


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