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Is Your Affiliate Website Making One Of These Mistakes?

As community manager of SocialWOD and someone who is generally interested in functional fitness, I spend a lot of time on affiliate websites. Some of these are news sites, like Tabata Times, and others are web pages for actual gyms.

As I was looking at different gyms’ sites, I started noticing the same few mistakes over and over. Poorly designed websites, no obvious contact information, and broken links/images to name a few. These mistakes are small and definitely fixable, but still need to be addressed. For most people, the first way they are going to learn about you gym is through your website. If your site it unappealing or difficult to navigate, that potential client might not even bother coming to your gym to see what it’s all about.

Here are 3 common mistakes that I see affiliate websites commit. Is your site guilty of any of these?

1. Not Owning Your Domain Name

I can’t tell you how many gyms are or Really people?! You’ve invested thousands of dollars to find a space, get equipment, and pay for insurance yet you won’t step it up and pay the $10/month in order to own your site?

I have no issues with people using WordPress or Blogspot but for goodness sakes, own your own name. There are a couple good reasons do this. Firstly, legitimacy. You just come off as more professional if you own your own domain. Another is that SEO tricks won’t work as well because it won’t optimize for your page but for whoever you’re hosting with.

2. Not Having Your Contact Information Clearly Stated 

This was another super common issue on a lot of gyms’ sites. Sometimes, I didn’t even know where a gym was located! Make sure your address and phone number are on the first page or that you have a clearly visible “Contact Us” link on your home page.

Additionally, if you have a Facebook or Twitter by all means link to those from your website. A lot of gyms didn’t note that they had a Facebook account on their page so I had to Google “functional fitness Random Facebook” in order to find their Facebook page. Link everything together!

Finally, if you do have a Facebook, Twitter, or blog for your gym please keep it updated. Having a social media profile and not updating it is worse than not having one at all. And make sure that your gym’s Facebook profile is a public page and not a personal profile. There were actually a few gyms that had Facebook profiles for their gym which meant that you have to friend request the gym instead of “like” it. Ridiculous!

3. Sad, Sad, Web Design

I am not a graphic designer nor am I here to put any specific gyms on blast but man…there are some ugly affiliate websites out there. Not as ugly as this but close.

I don’t expect you to be a small business owner, coach, and website designer all in one. Of course not, you’re only human. Luckily, there are tons resources out there to help you build a great website. In fact, our buddies at 321GoProject work solely to help affiliates with their branding, design, and image. If your site looks anything like the one I linked to above…please give them a call.

Kissmetrics has a great post on this called 7 Usability Mistakes That Will Kill Your Online Sales. If you have time, I definitely recommend you read it. It addresses a lot of other problems with poorly designed/laid out sites.
What do you think? Are there other issues you’ve seen on affiliate sites? Let us know in the comments!

Categories: Uncategorized.

Functional Fitness + Fundraising: Doing Good While Looking Good

You’ll hear us talk a lot about community on this blog, and for good reason. It’s the community of functional fitness that sets it apart from other types of group exercise. Many athletes become friends with their fellow gym members and do stuff together besides WOD. One example of outside activity is philanthropy. Athletes are an extremely generous group. In my time as a athlete, I’ve seen multiple fundraisers for a range of causes, from breast cancer to wounded soldiers.

As a gym owner you can kill two birds with one stone when you arrange a fundraiser: build a tighter community at your gym and raise money for a great cause. It’s a win-win situation. Here are a few of my favorite charities.

1. Barbells for Boobs

Who They Are: Barbells for Boobs helps provide funding for breast cancer screening and early detection programs. Their message is simple: SAVE A PAIR, SAVE A LIFE. They were founded in 2009 with by three Southern CA affiliates. Today, they have grown to over 800 affiliates and raised over $1M in 2012 alone.

Get Involved: Barbells for Boobs has an easy-peasy online guide that allows you to create an individual or team fundraiser website. They don’t have any specific guidelines for how to raise money–it’s entirely up to you! Many affiliates host team competitions.

2. Steve’s Club

Who They Are: Steve’s Club is a national program that helps provide functional fitness to low-income and at-risk youth. Steve’s Club seeks to break the cycle of crime and violence that these kids fall into and provide a positive place to learn and grow after school. Founded in 2007, today there are 11 Steve’s Clubs (Local Clubs) nationally serving hundreds of at-risk youth.

Get Involved: There are two ways to get involved with Steve’s Club. One is to set up a Local Club at your own box for at-risk youth. Steve’s Club helps provide all the administration so as a gym owner you’re not burdened with the extra work of non-profit management. If this sounds like a lot of work you can host a Beat the Streets Fundraiser at your gym. This is simply a one WOD competition where your affiliate collects donations to participate. All money raised goes to Steve’s Club, which is then send out to new Local Clubs to help them defray costs.


Who They Are: GORUCK is 8-10 hour event patterned after Special Forces training. Founded in 2010 GORUCK Challenges and other events serve as fundraisers for the Green Beret Foundation. $20 of every event registration goes to the Green Beret Foundation. While not 100% functional fitness related, per se, the Challenges are physically and mentally taxing and many use functional fitness to train for them.

Get Involved: GORUCK hosts Challenges nationally, so all you have to do is sign up and do one. They also offer custom events, so if you wanted to do a Challenge with just members of your affiliate that’s an option too!

These are 3 of my favorite fundraisers. Does your gym have a favorite charity you fundraise for? Let us know in the comments!

Categories: Business.

How to Turn Free Trial Customers into Paying Members

In the past, we have blogged in-depth about how to get new members and what prevents potential members from signing up.

So how do you attract these potential members and get them to come on full-time?

1. Offer a Flexible Schedule of Free Classes: Many times gyms offer free classes once a week (i.e. Saturday at 12:00P). But is this the most widely attended class? Take a look at the last month of your class attendance (which you can do with SocialWOD) and see which classes are the most attended. Is it Tuesday at 6:00P? Thursday at 7:00A? There is a good chance that if most of your current members come at this time that many of your prospective members would want to come at this time too. Try offering a few different times and days for free classes and see if you notice an improvement in attendance.

2. Try One-on-One Free Classes: There are a lot of benefits to having your free classes be individual classes instead of the traditional group classes. First, functional fitness is intimidating to many people. They may be nervous, shy, or embarrassed. By working with an individual one-on-one you can assuage their fears and also go at their pace. Second, if you have novice trainers who don’t have the experience or confidence to lead a whole class, teaching a single individual is a great way to practice their coaching skills. Finally,  one-on-one trial classes allows your potential member to make a real connection with your gym–and not feel like just a number.

3. Follow-Up: This seems like a no-brainer, but it stands to be repeated: Follow up individually with every person who takes a free class. 321 Go Project mentions sending a postcard. Whatever you do, make sure you contact them after their free class. I recommend contacting people within 3 days. Ask how they’re feeling, what they thought, etc. Don’t assume that they will contact you. Many times people need a “push” to spring them into action. Remember, all of your potential members are people who have lives outside of functional fitness. You’re probably not their number one priority, so make sure to follow up!

There you have it, 3 tips for attracting new members.

The next step? Keeping them! Check out our blog post on creating an awesome functional fitness community.

Categories: Business.

10 articles to grow your gym – Issue #22

Hi friend,

Regionals are just around the corner! Check out this cool infographic which shows how much Games athletes are improving. And enjoy this week’s top 10.

1.  Welcome to the Fold
Affiliates have many options for integrating new members. Emily Beers talks to five gym owners who explain what they do and why.

2. 3 Squatting Myths That Refuse to Die
“The squat probably gets more of a bad rap than any other strength training movement.”

3. How Yoga and Functional Fitness Can Work Together
Yoga’s focus on mobility and mental clarity makes it the perfect counterbalance to the intensity of functional fitness.

4. 11 Ways Successful People Start Their Mornings
“Beginning the day with a purpose and a plan increases your chance of success.”

5. Why a Little Bit of Stress is Good For You
Chronic stress is bad, but research shows you can effectively channel short-term stress to boost cognitive function.

6. Progressive Overload: Rules and Guidelines
“Progressive overload is among the most basic principles in weight training, and unfortunately among those that are usually misunderstood by both the beginning trainee and the trainer.” 

7. The Power of Third-Party Influencers
Building strong relationships with your local business community can pay dividends. 

8. A Look Back at the 2013 Open: Part 1
If graphs and statistics are your thing, you’ll enjoy this in-depth analysis of the 2013 Open.

9. The Over-Warm Up
Jacob Cloud recommends adding a single heavy lift to your warm-up in order to increase strength and confidence. 

10. Close the Gap
5 steps to share with your members to help them envision and realize their goals.

Categories: top10.

Is Your Gym on Instagram?

As I wrote in my last post, taking photos of your members is an important (and fun!) part of building your gym’s community. But lugging around a camera all the time can be tedious and heavy. Luckily, thanks to the wonderful world of technology, you have everything you need to take exciting photos right on your phone.

So you can take badass pictures, like these.

The leading app for photo taking and sharing is Instagram. This free app allows you to take photos, put a filter on them, and share them with the world as well as with your Facebook and Twitter friends and followers. Instagram is taking the world of social media by storm. With over 100 million active users and 40 million photos posted every day, it’s clear that if you want to share and take photos, Instagram is where it’s at.

5 Reasons Why Your Gym Should be on Instagram:

  1. A picture is worth a thousand words, and functional fitness is no different. A first muscle up, a PR on a clean, or maybe catching a member mid-air during a high box jump; these moments are best remembered through photography.
  2. Lots of your members are probably on Instagram already! You can tag them in the photos that you take of them. Once again, it’s another simple way to engage your members and make them feel more connected to your gym.
  3. It’s easy. Snapping a photo and throwing on a filter takes all of 2 minutes. Plus, you can cross-post to your gym’s Facebook & Twitter. Three updates for the work of one!
  4. It’s free. Scheduling a professional photographer every once and awhile to take action shots is nice, but it can get pricey. Instagram is 100% free.
  5. It’s a great way to market your gym. Add your Instagram feed to your gym’s website so that prospective members can see what your gym is like from day-to-day.

To get the most visibility for your photos on Instagram, make sure to tag them. Popular tags on Instagram include:  #weightlifting, #instafitness, and #bestofig. Tags will allow those who aren’t following you to find and see your pictures.

Extra Apps

Instagram is great but there are a few apps that can enhance your photos even more and let you add text, lighting effects, and multiple frames. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Afterlight (iTunes only)
  2. Frametastic (iTunes only)
  3. Labelbox (iTunes/Android)
  4. Real Bokeh (iTunes/Android)
  5. Over  (iTunes only)

Is your gym on Instagram? Do you have a favorite photo-editing app? Let us know in the comments!


(Photo Credit: 1, 2)

Categories: Social Media.

SocialWOD Top 10 – Issue #21

Hi friend,

Check out this week’s top 10 articles from around the web to help grow and improve your gym.

1.  30 Functional Fitness Workouts You Can Do At Home
Members on the road? Forward them this link so that they can train, even from their hotel.

2. A System for Developing Competitive Athletes, Part 1 
“There is no perfect program. There is no equation. But, nonetheless, there are numbers, and they tell us some things.”

3. Why Athletes Benefit From Learning the Olympic Lifts From an Olympic Weightlifter
An Olympic lifting coach explains common issues she sees in athletes attempting the Olympic lifts.

4. What Is Your “Functional” Fitness For?
“Pushing your mental limitations is just as important as your physical limitations.”

5. Key Ingredient for a Succesful Customer Loyalty Program
Find out what’s important to your members when it comes to loyalty and referral programs.

6. The Economics of Functional Fitness: Paying Premium Prices to be in Pain
An interesting take on the economics of functional fitness from a realtor’s perspective. 

7. Five Essential O-Lift Drills
Five drills perfect for anyone learning the snatch and the clean and jerk.

8. The 7 Most Underrated Exercises
When’s the last time you programmed Turkish Get Ups?

9. Rippetoe Throws Down
Legendary strength and conditioning coach, Mark Rippetoe, explains the difference between exercising and training.

10. A Manager’s Manifesto
“Realize you can’t do everything. Close your eyes, fall backwards, and learn to trust.”

Categories: top10.

SocialWOD Top 10 – Issue #20

Hi friend,

Congratulations, you made it through another Open! Now it’s time to start training for 2014. In the meantime, check out this week’s top ten articles. 

1. Cook Your Own Food. Eat What You Want. (Think for Yourself.)
Chef Michael Ruhlman encourages listening to your body post-meal to understand what you can and cannot handle. 

2. Twelve Time Management Habits to Master in 2013
As a gym owner and coach, it can sometimes be hard to strike the perfect work/life balance. Time management is key to finding balance.

3. Gymnastics: Building the Foundation
“A lack of commitment to fundamentals will doom any training program and dilute the efficacy of both athlete and coach.”

4. An Analysis of the Hormonal Response to Functional Fitness
A new study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows that workouts may actually lower cortisol levels.

5. In the Gym with Rudy Nielsen, Elite Coach
An interview with the creator of The Outlaw Way, Rudy Nielsen.

6. Why The Gym Is Becoming The New Center For Business
“The gym has quietly grown as a new center for business, where aspiring partners in commerce can work off stress while making connections that follow them right back to the office.”

7. Make Your Website Rock: 3 Tools
Does your website need a facelift? Check out these 3 free tools to boost traffic and engagement.

8. Behind the Branding: Roy Dean
Your gym’s brand communicates a certain meaning to potential clients. Be mindful of what you design and choose.

9. How Firing Clients Can Positively Impact Your Bottom Line
NorCal Strength and Conditioning’s Nicki Violetti outlines 3 types of clients that need to be fired and how that can positively impact your gym’s community.

10. Train Like A Champion: Technique, Habits, and Positivity
Dedicating time to proper technique work is crucial for optimal performance.

Categories: top10.

10 Ways to Create and Grow Your Gym’s Community

After a brief hiatus, SocialWOD’s blog is back up and running. Here is our first post written by our new community manger, Cynthia.

The first quarter of the year has just wrapped up. Now is a good time to step back and look at your numbers. Your gym may have seen an influx of members as a result of New Year’s resolutions and the growing popularity of functional fitness, but new sign-ups mean nothing if you can’t retain them. Last year, we surveyed over 200 gym members and discovered that the community of a gym was what kept members coming back for more. Here are 10 ways to help create and grow your gym’s community, which will in turn help retain current members and recruit new ones.

1.  Facebook Groups: This is something my home gym in South Arlington, Virginia is especially good about. We have a private Facebook group that gym members belong to. We strive to keep the posts functional fitness related: videos, articles, shout-outs to members who PR’d, etc. It’s a great way to help your members build and maintain the friendships they’re making at the gym.

2.  Public Recognition of Success: People love being recognized for their hard work. I know I do. Your members are working their butts off in the gym everyday—so help them toot their own horns! This is something that Active Performance in Mission Viejo, CA does well. They frequently post on their public Facebook page as well as their blog when their members PR. That sort of recognition makes athletes feel like they are more than just a number, and keeps them coming back to your gym.

3.  Photos: If there is something athletes love besides bacon, it’s photos. Take some shots of your athletes during WODs and post them on your Facebook page or blog.

4.  Scheduled Communications:  Communicating with your members is key to keeping them engaged and interested in you gym. At the bare minimum, you should be sending out a monthly email to your members with updates such as: upcoming events, new members, PRs, etc. SocialWOD makes tracking PRs easy for coaches to do, too.

5.  Free Classes: Yes, obviously you offer them. But how often does a current member go to a free class? Probably never, but this is a great recruiting tool. When I went to my first free class a couple of current members worked out with us. It was cool because I got a taste of the sort of community my gym had and an opportunity to ask them questions without feeling pressure to commit. Every once in awhile, ask some of your friendliest members to do a free class. Their enthusiasm for your gym will surely attract the newbies. And a couple days after the free class, be sure to follow up with those prospective members.

6. Tap Into Talent: One of the many awesome things about functional fitness is that is brings together a very diverse group of people. As an owner, use this to your advantage! Does a graphic designer go to your gym? An SEO specialist? A photographer? All of these people offer services that would benefit your gym. Offer them a discount off their membership if they help you redesign your website, take photographs during the occasional WOD (see #3), etc.  It’s a win-win; you gain value from services provided and your member feels more invested and connected to your gym.

7.  T-Shirts: This is a no-brainer but you should really have t-shirts on hand at all times. Sell them. Your members will wear them. And sell them to drop-ins instead of charging them and having them walk out with nothing.

8.  Relationship Building: I am a fundraiser by trade so this piece of advice comes from the world of fundraising.  First, how big is your gym? If it’s over 150, I bet it’s difficult for you to really connect with all of your members. Why? There is a number called Dunbar’s number that suggests a cognitive limit for how many people a person can interact with and remember. 150 is usually the agreed upon upper limit. What does this have to do with fundraising ? As a fundraiser, you never have a “caseload” of more than 150 people because after that the relationships break down and are hard to maintain. Relationships are crucial for building a community so divvy up your members between your coaches so that everyone is accounted for. Then make sure that your coaches are making concerted efforts to check in with the members of their caseload at least once a month to see how they’re doing and if they are achieving their goals.

9.  Nutrition Challenges: Paleo, Zone, Whole30, whatever! Most people start functional fitness because they want to see body composition changes. Help your members achieve their weight loss goals while encouraging healthy eating. 30-day programs seem to be the most popular, but my gym did a 60+ day program that yielded some serious results.

10.  Purely Social Hangouts: Sure, it’s fun to do a holiday WOD or a Paleo potluck but some people have lives outside of functional fitness (I don’t, but I’m sure these people exist) so encourage some events that don’t revolve around the gym.


So there you go! 10 ways to help grow and retain your gym’s community. Do you do any of these? Or do you have additional ideas that would help gym owners? Let us know in the comments!


Categories: Business.

10 articles to grow your gym – Issue #19

Hi friend,

After a little hiatus, we’re back in business! Here’s the second edition of our 2013 Top 10 articles to help make you a better coach and help grow your box, brought to you by our new community manager, Cynthia.

1. 50 Page Sample of Supple Leopard

Check out this free preview of MobilityWOD’s Kelly Starrett’s upcoming book.

2. Hierarchy of Staff Qualities

“The most important attribute a coach can possess is consistency.”

3. Opening a Box: Walnut Creek Affiliate

An informative interview with two brothers who opened a box together

4. Beware the Lure of the Sexy Metcon

New gym members might not think there is enough “cardio.” Read this and explain why strength programming is important.

5. Coach’s Corner: One Size Does Not Always Fit All

Make sure you are tailoring your coaching to each of your athlete’s skill level and ability

6. Fear is a Four-Letter Word

We all have fears when expanding or opening a business. Read this to learn how to conquer them.

7. Why Good-Better-Best Prices Are So Effective

Consider scaling membership options and benefits in order to increase revenue.

8. The Qualities of a Good Coach

Learn what it takes to become the “quintessential” coach.

9. Post Workout Nutrition: High or Low Carb?

Robb Wolf explains the pros and cons of a high vs. low carb post-WOD snack.

10. 18 Inspirational Quotes for Spring

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” -Helen Keller

Categories: top10.

10 articles to grow your gym – issue #18

Hi friend,

1. 50 Ways to get better at functional fitness


Some good tips in here even if you’re been training for years.

2. Why can’t I PR everyday?


Are your athletes disappointed because they’re not PRing as much as they did when they started? Some thoughts on why here.

3. Sitting Is the Smoking of Our Generation


A quick hack to make sure you (and your members) can sit less and live longer.

4. How to get big while doing functional fitness


Want to get bigger while training? These are things you must do.

5. Get cozy down there


Improve your snatching and cleaning.

6. Retail or reinvestment?


Should you spend your cash investing in retail products, or is there a way to make an even better return?

7. Delivering Open


How to leverage Open to maximize the benefits to your gym.

8. How Do You Know You’re a Great Coach?


Can you actually QUANTIFY your success as a coach? The Biz thinks so.

9. This Lifestyle


Take 5 minutes and laugh at these hilarious animations about living the functional fitness life.

10. Maintaining Perspective on Functional Fitness


Always good to step back and consider why you do what you do.

Categories: top10.