Building a thriving functional fitness community is an important part of owning and operating a successful box. According to our survey, word of mouth is the second most popular method (after location) for choosing a gym. If your community is strong, you will have many walking endorsements for your box, along with a group of people that enjoy working out together. As they cheer each other on and hold each other accountable, they will continue to purchase membership packages, merchandise and services, while serving as the best sort of advertising for new customers.
How can you build your box into a strong community? The best and most sustainable way is to provide your clients with services and an atmosphere that is welcoming and encouraging. Give them services that are specific to their needs and will help them reach their fitness goals and celebrate with them when they do. Here are some steps to try.
Leverage your blog and your website
There is nothing like positive reinforcement made public. Did a client reach a milestone? Compete in a competition? Have a functional fitness anniversary? Acknowledging this, even if it’s just with one line, can inspire that client and others to push harder, and keep coming back.
Post athlete profiles and testimonials
Your clients are often your best marketing tools. Giving the community a chance to express how those around them (coaches and other athletes) have inspired them to move toward their fitness goals is always great. Knowing how far other members have come can serve as a strong motivation to push others to become stronger athletes. It can give other members a sense of what to expect from their experience, and show newcomers to the community that they too can be a big part of the success of the box. At the Centerville box, athletes are featured in first person testimonials on the “success stories” page of their blog, along with before and after pics.
Share members results
Make sure members are posting results to the white board. Not only does this practice encourage members to show off that new PR, or show how many minutes they have shaved from their Fran time; it gives them a secondary means of tracking their scores and attendance. Not to mention, recognizing members accomplishments is a great way to build customer loyalty. It also gives you a means to assess the skills of the group for future program planning.
Use Facebook to your advantage
Create a Facebook group for your box that runs in conjunction with your existing Facebook page. Inviting members to a forum where they can discuss functional fitness and life outside of the box can help build a community of friends and training partners that stay constantly engaged. Since most of your clients are likely using Facebook already, having their comments to your page show up in their friend’s feeds is another way to get the word out about your box. Also, sharing recipes, articles about fitness, videos and training tips are all great ways to keep the community participating in a meaningful way.
Show your current clients some love
More often than not, we place the emphasis on getting new clients through the door. Our current clients can get lost in the shuffle with the assumption that they will continue to renew without any sort of motivation. This isn’t always the case, and it is always a good idea to reach out to current and expiring members. Offering them new gear (a T-shirt, sweatshirt, hat, keychain or other type of small gift) with a contract renewal can make members feel appreciated and encourage them to renew regularly.
Feedback Feedback Feedback
Solicit customer feedback and put their suggestions to work within the box. Thinking of trying a different training format? Adding classes? Feedback from your clients makes them feel that their input is valued, and gives you ways to improve your business. Blog polls, informal polls during the announcement portion of group classes, and email solicitations can be great ways to glean information from your clients. It is amazing what you can learn if you just ask, and the information will help you to build the kind of community they are most interested in being a part of.
Make your clients more social
Hold social events for members. The box that plays together, stays together. Take advantage of the unique group of people that make up your box by organizing a paleo potluck, a movie night, a book club or some other event that will bring your clients together.
Compete together at affiliate and non affiliate events. Nothing builds teams of athletes (and a family atmosphere) like competing together. Signing up for local competitions as a team can get you started on the road to the games. Signing up for larger events like Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, local triathlons and other non-affiliate competitions can give the same feeling of togetherness, and show just how functional fitness training can help with other sports, and help bring your clients closer together.
Offer specialized services
Sports massage, functional fitness centric yoga, mobility and skill building workshops are just a few services that can help keep members engaged. Have a number of clients still looking for that first pull up? A pull up workshop like this one being offered at Thames can be a great way to get your clients involved and improving. Coach Elizabeth Wipff holds yoga workshops at other boxes to teach helpful yoga movements and help them become more flexible.
When it comes down to it, functional fitness is one of the most grueling fitness methods out there. An encouraging word, high five and congratulations on a job well done (or a hard fought finish) can mean the world to a client.
Building a strong community is one of the most important parts of building your business. A friendly environment that encourages members to work harder, learn more about their sport and each other, and brings people together is one that will keep members coming back, and bringing their friends, family and loved ones into the fold.