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Building a Fitness Community That Lasts

Reading Time: 5 minutes 8 seconds


DATE: 2020-05-27

When you think about gyms, you often think about gym equipment and people stretching, foam rolling, and doing their best to get a great workout. The gym is a great place, with all sorts of potential and possibility.

But time and time again, we run into the reality that simply having a gym membership alone usually isn't going to get the job done in terms of weight loss, toning up, and the other functional fitness goals that many people have.

When it comes to health and wellness, it can be difficult for some people to prioritize these factors in their own lives. Sometimes, we could all use a little help. Going it alone, for most people, isn't a path to success (but for those of you who do—kudos!).

Ultimately, if you want to see your clients succeed, there must be more than just the nuts and bolts. You want to build a strong community. And strong community is only possible by focusing on relationships.

Why Community is Essential to Any Fitness Business

Just like a responsible fitness professional will apply focus to a client's core strength, a business ought to do the same. The core of any business is its clients. Community is all about them.

On the surface, fitness professionals offer a way to demystify the process of being fit and healthy. But on a deeper level, this isn't usually why people choose to use your services.

Many people will say that the workouts, amenities, equipment, and operating hours are the reason they're at their gym—and this might likely be the case. But it will be hard to find someone who has been with a particular gym for years where they hate the people.

Usually, if you dig underneath the surface a little, you can see that there are many social aspects to why people choose the gyms they do. Oftentimes, they'll select common interests—exercise classes like Zumba or Piloxing, exercise programs involving arts like Tai Chi and Yoga, and still much more.

But still, you'll find other groups of people who just like to get together and sweat as their only goal. It could be high intensity group training, tough challenges, or anything else that keeps the focus on strenuous activities.

You also have some groups that are age-based like those that focus on senior fitness programs.

Regardless, the key point here is to identify the factors that glue people together within a team or community. This is where it starts. What is the glue of your fitness business?

Whether you're a trainer working at a large-scale box gym, or you're at a boutique fitness center, building community can be what helps you to thrive.

Community Makes People Feel Comfortable

Remember that your community doesn't have to be in an "official" capacity. For instance, if you're a personal trainer at a local gym, you could still attempt to build a community of your own clientele.

You could do this through having competitions and challenges that push them further and give them accountability. It could be a Facebook group, other social media, or mobile app that builds motivation.

Fitness is a very personal challenge. No one can do it for you, no matter how badly we might like that sometimes. As such, being connected to communities helps us stay motivated through the ups and downs of life. Everyone needs support in their fitness and wellness routine.

But brick and mortar fitness businesses have a special opportunity to create a unique community. You already have the facilities which can host people. All you need to do is find the "glue" that's the key to what your clients love.

How to Start a Community From Scratch

To give you a sense of how this journey begins, it's important to look beyond the facts. Look deeper into the common elements that bring everyone together. Lots of times, it's nothing physical.

It could even be a separate interest completely outside of fitness. Do they like certain types of movies or TV shows? What about going to live concerts and shows? It could be faith-based in nature, which is a great way to address spiritual well-being in addition to the physical.

Once you've found what they like, think of ways to create an experience that speaks to those needs.

It doesn't have to be complicated, either. The biggest difficulty with starting a community from scratch is that you can do almost anything. When you could go in so many directions, it becomes difficult to know which one is right for you.

This is why buy-in from your clients is so essential to this process. Here are some ideas based on different factors:

Morning Sun Salutation

Let's say that you find out that your clients are all interested in yoga, but often don't have the time. They are people who like to exercise in the morning for energy, and want to kick everything off in a calm and centered place. For a small fee, you could hire a yoga instructor once every few months for an early morning yoga class in a park.

Something like this could be incredibly effective at encouraging the right people to stay connected with you.

Movie Buff Crew

If you were to find a common interest, like people who enjoy classic movies, or some form of specific genre like science fiction or fantasy, you could use that to help build cohesion in your community.

Start it with a Facebook group that focuses on movies, whether it's favorite quotes, scenes, and trivia. As your clients get into it, do a fitness or nutrition challenge each month. Whoever wins the challenge gets to pick a movie, and you can host your community for a special movie night.

Everyone gets to enjoy each other's company, and the winners get to showcase their favorites.

The Power Lifting Club

Know that group of people who like to lift heavy? Well, chances are you can find a few clients who share this same trait.

When you do this, you could put together a competition over the course of 60-90 days where they try to improve their one rep maxes as much as possible. Record their one rep max at the beginning. Then, after 90 days, hold a competition where everyone comes in to see what they can lift. Although a competition, you will often find, with the right direction, a sense of camaraderie and support for fellow athletes.

If all competitors are in the same general place, you could go straight for who can lift the most. But to be more inclusive, you could also make it about improvement. Everyone cheers on everyone during the lift, no matter how much weight is on the bar.

Then you see who has improved the most in 90 days, and make them the winner.

Leadership is Essential

It doesn't matter if there's one person leading the community or a few people who guide it along. The fact is that any community is going to require planning and maintenance to keep together.

So make sure you're really paying attention to how your community organizes. Make sure to keep the values consistent, and deliver on your promises.

At the heart of any community is trust. This trust will only help you to grow your business, and pick up some really amazing friends along the way.

If you would like to know about creating communities via online personal training, read our article about it here.

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