Being a fitness founder can be an isolating existence, and it certainly has its moments of uncertainty. But that’s why we look to those who have come before us, and how their journey can give us the platform we need to launch our own business.
In an interview with us, Victoria Thomas, the founder and owner of JourneyFit, shared her inspiring journey. From practicing law to establishing a successful fitness studio, Victoria’s life is a fascinating story, with plenty of lessons learned. JourneyFit, based in Richardson, Texas, offers personal training, group fitness, and sports performance training for athletes, aspiring athletes, and regular members of the community. In our talk, Victoria discussed her approach to personalizing fitness, creating a welcoming community, and overcoming challenges in the fitness industry.
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5 Fitness Business Tips You Need to Know
1. Personalization is Everything:
“Personalization is the beginning and the only thing that will sustain your fitness journey.”Victoria Thomas
One of the standout features of JourneyFit is its commitment to personalization, even within a group fitness setting. Victoria believes that personalization is the core to sustainable fitness journeys and retaining more members. To achieve this, she starts with a detailed survey to identify each member’s unique needs and challenges. These in-depth surveys reveal the issues that might be holding members back from reaching their full fitness potential. By showing people the solutions to these issues, you can be the problem-solver they’ve been looking for for years.
Key Takeaway: Approach every new member as a new challenge for both you and your member – every body is different, and every person needs to feel heard and listened to.
Read More: How to Build a Loyal Fitness Community
Bringing Athletic Training to the Masses is Easier Than You Think
“We treat everybody like they’re an athlete – I feel like that is another thing that keeps them coming back for more.”Victoria Thomas
It’s hard sometimes as a professional in the fitness business to remember that some people are coming into your establishment having not exercised in months, maybe even years. This adds a certain intimidation factor that some people find hard to get over. By treating people like an athlete from the get-go, you give them the inspiration and frame of mind that makes everything seem a lot more accessible and a lot more achievable.
Treat everyone like the athlete they are – never stop reminding them of their abilities and potential. People come to your business for a unique and personalized approach, but also for someone to help guide them to their full potential: make sure you’re that person for them.
3. The Role of Accountability:
“It is very hard to influence behavior, but what happens is that everyone kind of gets on this self-motivation phase and they motivate themselves and I no longer have to influence their behavior outside of the gym.”Victoria Thomas
As a personal trainer or fitness professional, you only get to be with your clients for a few hours per week, even if you’re lucky. You can threaten to follow them home, you can send daily check-in texts, but that won’t help them reach their end goal. By having a personalized and accountability-focused approach to your training, you give your members the ability to educate themselves.
We’ve all been there – once a member starts to see a small bit of progress, their dopamine starts flowing, and then that starts carrying them to class every week.
Be the facilitator, the enabler, not the enforcer. Your members are ultimately the ones responsible for showing up every week – create an experience and environment where they see the progress, feel the benefits, and begin to self-motivate. 30-day challenges, weekly updates, or member loyalty rewards can be fundamental in building that experience.
4. Building Community and Partnerships:
“I think that one of the main things that, you know, other than our personal experience that separates us from everybody else is that it’s a community gym. All of my girls, they are going to each other’s baby showers and birthday parties, sometimes I’m not even there.”Victoria Thomas
Your members are coming to you for that feel-good factor and for those moments of connection and community. Take a few moments before and after class to check in on people, see how their week went. Remember, you’re the trendsetter: if you come in with your head down, get into the session, and then leave straight after, that’s how your members will act.
Never underestimate the psychological benefits your service provides.
For some people, you can be the highlight of their week, or can have the potential to be. Make sure that you build and develop that community and reward your members for being engaged.
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Slowing Your Fitness
One of the easiest ways of building a community feel is by setting up an online community. Even something as simple as a group message every week can have a hugely inclusive effect.
A simple measure that you can also add to your premises is a collective meeting spot. Maybe it’s a drinking fountain, maybe it’s just some benches at reception, maybe it’s an outdoor area – build an environment conducive to community and you’ll quickly see it develop.
Try your utmost to be the highlight of your member’s week. This is most easily done by creating a sense of community and collective progress. Group messages, loyalty rewards, or even just setting up a communal area at your business can have major benefits to your member retention.
5. Build Out a Plan, But Make It Realistic
“Your plan might not be robust, but you need to have some sort of marketing plan where you believe that you are doing five efforts that will bring people back into your gym.”Victoria Thomas
Make sure you’re never walking blind in building your business. From the very first day, you have to have a plan that brings people into your premises and wants them to stay there.
For Victoria, a huge game-changer for her business was when they began hosting free workout brunches. They would invite members of the local community to come at the weekend for a free workout session and a catered brunch. Now, she has to limit the number of people, because she’s run out of space in her gym.
Building a community is a massive part of retaining members, but never forget you’re part of the community too. Reach out to local businesses and residences, make yourself an engaged and active member of the local community. If you give back, people are far more likely to recommend you and your services to their friends and family.
Create a robust marketing plan, and place community at the center of everything. Creating a list of 5 actionable events or actions is a surprisingly powerful tool for achieving this goal.
Read More: How to Build a Stellar Fitness Community
Bonus Tip: Brands Want To Work With You More Than You Know
Victoria has worked with Nike, Under Armor, Whole Foods, and a long list of other world-famous brands.
How can you do the same?
Influencer Marketing is by far the most important marketing tool for major brands out there right now. You, as an inspiring small business owner, are the micro-influencer every department dreams of partnering with.
Take a look around at your local and larger industry businesses, reach out to them and see what partnerships you can create together. You’ll be surprised at how engaged and willing many of these seemingly “faceless” brands will eagerly reach out to you.
Don’t discount your own superpowers and unique business positions. Reach out to the big brands, see what partnership initiatives they have – it costs nothing to send an email.
Victoria Thomas’ Success Story
Want to learn more about how Victoria went from a single location to being a brand ambassador for Nike, Under Armor, and Whole Foods?
Don’t have time?
You can watch the video summary here: