Gyms are the original social networking platform. They connect people with similar interests, motivate members and encourage good vibes.
At least, that’s a fitness professional’s dream, right? This kind of close-knit community is great for your fitness business. If members feel supported by friends who are invested in their success, they’re more likely to show up, work hard, see results and keep coming back. (See how you can grow your business with Wix Fit here.)
Why you need a fitness community
Whether you own a gym, fitness studio or online training business, satisfied customers are your best brand ambassadors. They’re the people who will buy gear from your fitness clothing line, book classes through your fitness website and post online reviews about how they’ve never been to a better yoga studio.
Essentially, a strong community helps increase customer satisfaction. Everyone likes encouragement, whether it’s given virtually or in person, but in some ways, it’s even more crucial in digital communities. Here are some smart ways to establish a strong fitness community, no matter where you train your clients.
How to build your fitness community online
01. Build an engaging website
If you want to build an online community, remember that your fitness website shouldn’t be a static page. It should engage your members with blog posts that inspire conversation, groups tailored to specific interests and forums that encourage discussion. You can use forums to ask questions about upcoming workouts or events so that members can weigh in with their preferences.
02. Meet your community on mobile
You can’t be in the studio at all times, so how can your members reach you if they have a question? Members can download the Fit by Wix app to interact with you directly (you’ll use the Wix Owner app to respond).
Use the Branded App by Wix to take the experience to the next level with your own branding. Nicole Carlile, a gym owner in Australia, uses her branded app to keep her community accountable in fitness challenges and online programs. “We can see who’s doing things and who’s not, so it works really well for those fitness challenges,” she says.
03. Build online programs and challenges
Speaking of online programs and fitness challenges, these formats lend themselves really well to community engagement. Build a 30-day program that people complete together over the course of a month to foster conversation and group support. With Wix Online Programs, clients will be able to message you after each workout, and you can build groups based on a specific program so that members can discuss among themselves.
04. Introduce icebreakers at the beginning of class
Icebreakers may feel a little middle school, but they give your members something to talk about. Even a “question of the day” (what’s one thing you hope to do this weekend?) can bring shy athletes out of their shells and offer an excuse to approach others. This is especially helpful at the start of a Zoom workout since it’s harder to create conversation in this setting.
05. Learn everyone’s names—and say them
It’s easier to chat with someone if you know what to call them, so encourage your staff to address members by name. If you’re especially bad with names, you can have an easily visible board with everyone who checked in for the day (ideally with their picture, too). Steal a glance if your memory isn’t firing on all cylinders.
06. Be active on social media
Athletes reluctant to approach a stranger IRL may feel more comfortable engaging online. Post content you know will elicit a reaction (“I love burpees!”) to generate conversation, and if you’ve got photos of your clients crushing a workout, upload those too (with their written permission, of course). You can also repost your members’ photos in an Instagram Story, which will make them feel acknowledged by their coaches and excited to tag you in the future. Read more: 7 ways to encourage your clients to post their workouts on social media
07. Send a fitness newsletter regularly
Not everyone is active on Instagram, but it’s almost certain that your members have an email address. In fact, you probably have it on file already. That’s why a fitness newsletter is the perfect way to promote upcoming gym events, highlight new coaches and complement your social media strategy. You can also solicit success stories to highlight members who are reaching their goals.
08. Sell branded merchandise
Every team’s got to have a uniform, right? Selling merch, like a branded snapback or t-shirt, helps members recognize each other outside the gym. It’s also a way for drop-ins to commemorate their positive experience. Even better: Ask a member to design it, or present the community with a few options and ask them to weigh in via forums. Here’s how to start your own fitness clothing line.
09. Think niche
Brielle Collins, founder of Practice Shraddha, enjoys hosting wellness seminars that serve a niche audience, like her recent series on exercising after a miscarriage. “There’s more opportunity to serve your community,” she told us for a story on hybrid fitness. Zero in on your audience to connect people going through the same struggles (or victories), and they’ll bond over the things they have in common.
10. Get outside the gym
Transitioning from class acquaintances to friends outside the gym can be a process, but you can speed it along as the gym owner. Organize a social event at a nearby park or restaurant. Your members may not recognize each other outside of their athletic apparel, but thankfully, they’ve all got something in common: fitness.