Back to Podcast

Vanessa Severiano: Why Community-Driven Companies Last

Vanessa Severiano

Vanessa Severiano is a seasoned expert in growth, branding, and sales. In this interview, Vanessa sheds light on the ever-evolving dynamics of the fitness industry and why fitness businesses need to find their unique selling point. With a career spanning over two decades, Severiano’s advice can help you understand what you need to do to prepare for the future of the fitness industry. 

Vanessa’s Journey: From Crunch to Entrepreneurship

Vanessa Severiano’s career began at Crunch’s corporate office in New York City. Her decision to sidestep law school in favor of working with mission-driven, exciting brands marked the start of an illustrious career. Vanessa later contributed to the launch of Equinox in Florida and played significant roles at DavidBartonGym and Flywheel. Her pivotal moment came with the opportunity to develop a brand from scratch in Miami, a venture that she led for over six years. Now, Severiano leverages her vast experience to consult for fitness and wellness brands.

Adapting to Changing Consumer Expectations

“The consumer is expecting to be able to work out online, to be able to work out in-person, to have a community aspect. We really have to rise to the occasion and meet those consumer expectations.”

The fitness market has transformed, with consumer expectations now extending beyond the confines of brick-and-mortar locations. Severiano emphasizes the need for fitness brands to adapt and provide value through a blend of online and offline experiences, fostering community, and focusing on health benefits beyond mere aesthetics.

The traditional will no longer work for most fitness businesses – now is the time to innovate and find out what your unique selling point really is. 

Read More: Discover Your Own Unique Selling Point


Embrace Digital Transformation

“Right now, you have to adapt to be able to thrive.”

It’s hard to justify a $150-a-month subscription to members when they can get a similar offering online for $10. To overcome this, you need to either provide an exceptional customer experience from start to finish, or you need to develop a hybrid model that allows you to capture those online customers that you’re currently losing out to. 

This brings us to our next tip, one which should be at the core of your conversion tactics.

Get Sincere With Your Members

The day of the hard sell is over. People are constantly being bombarded by advertisements, product offerings, and pitches from every angle. Your fitness business should be an escape from that. Trying to strongarm people into signing a contract will just lead to them canceling their membership as soon as they can. 

Instead, treat them as what you want them to become – devoted members of your fitness community. Don’t jump into the sales pitch; instead, take the time to learn about the reason why they’re looking to join your gym or studio. Understand their needs, the job that your business does for them, and then offer them to join. Remember, most people are going to work out in a physical location because they need accountability, a fixed time, and guidance. If you can provide that, you’ll quickly have a dependable and highly devoted community of members.

Vanessa explains it perfectly: 

“People are willing to pay for accountability, your time, and attention. If you are a fitness brand providing those things for people, then you can justify your value and you can continue to grow.“

Community is by far the most important aspect of your business for member retention. If you can make your new members feel welcome and involved from day one, you will have a significant chance of keeping them as long-term members. Just remember that when your members show up, you have to show up too. Be that dependable resource they’re looking for in their fitness journey.

Read More: The Complete Member Onboarding Guide


Create a Stellar Community 

“We have to rally around our members and our clients by creating community. Really, it all boils down to creating relationships”

Vanessa explains that businesses need to step away from the vanity pitch because it’s no longer the purpose of the fitness industry. People can get lean or lose weight on their own, what they need now is a community that’s not just for their body, but also their mind. 

Mental wellness should be at the forefront of your business model. Not because it’s the most lucrative tactic, but because it’s what people are looking for and need right now. 

You can build a thriving community in a thousand different ways, and it’s a lot easier than you might think. All it takes is sincerity and persistence. If you’re constantly showing up for your members and encouraging them, soon enough they will start doing the same for one another. 

Something as simple as a monthly coffee get-together on a Saturday morning could be massively beneficial to the community you’re trying to grow. Then, instead of just seeing your business as a place to get fit, your members will quickly see it as a place to belong. 

Finally, if your business is a physical location, stop seeing digital as the enemy, especially when it comes to community. Digital fitness is not the competition, it’s a tool. Any business can utilize it, as long as they have a clear path and the platform best suited to the job.

As Vanessa says:

“Digital is a tool. It’s not here to replace the brick and mortar. But it is a tool to use so that if I can’t make it to a class or I’m not feeling well, I can still exercise. I don’t have to miss out and I’m not going to another brand to get what I need.” 

Read More: Glofox & Trainerize – Tools to Boost Your Online Business


Embrace Change and Celebrate What Makes You Special

“I would implore each business owner to look at their business and assess what are their key differentiators, what makes you stand out in the sea of fitness spaces and all the noise right now.”

The fitness industry is a very crowded place, but that shouldn’t be a problem for businesses that have a truly unique offering and a stellar community. 

Take a step back from what you think your business provides and really see what makes your members want to exercise with you and your community. Providing a great workout is no longer enough for you to survive as a fitness business. You need to create an open, welcoming, and holistic member experience that ensures that you’re focusing on their mental well-being as much as their physical health. 

Once you create that sense of belonging for your members, you know that you’ll be safe as a business. 

Need help creating a more predictable experience for your members? 

We’re here to help.

We empower you to boost your business

"I think Glofox speaks to lots of different fitness businesses. I looked at a few options, but the Glofox positioning was more flexible. Without it the business wouldn't be scaleable”
Mehdi Elaichouni
Owner at Carpe Diem BJJ

Trusted by studios, and global gym chains.

  • flydown-9round
  • flydown-f45
  • flydown-snap-fitness
  • flydown-BMF
  • row-house
  • flydown-spartans