By Emily Rittenhouse
You all want clients to feel welcome when they walk through your door every day. After all, it’s that sense of community, family, and inclusivity that keeps clients coming back—and bringing their friends along. It doesn’t happen overnight, but with the right people, space, and partners, you’ll be growing your tight-knit “fit fam”’ in no time.
1. Your people
Once you’ve opened your own fitness studio, you know you’ve entered a people business. Your staff is going to be what drives your studio’s performance, and they’re also part of what differentiates you from the studio across the street. Because of this, your coaches and trainers will play as large a role in community-building as you. Here are four simple ways to approach it.
- Encourage staff to not only introduce themselves multiple times but also make a point to remember members’ names, taking note of any personal details they’ve shared. Members will feel more comfortable knowing the staff member’s names and feeling that reciprocated when they return.
- Find staff members who are passionate about your business and actively engage with members. These people are the face of your business, and they can significantly affect a member’s experience in a positive—or negative—way.
- Track class attendance and incentivize instructors who keep clients coming back. There are various tools available to you that can help you track instructor performance and popularity to better manage your schedule.
- Use challenges to not only promote camaraderie within your studio but to encourage consistent practice as well. As Kate Davies, owner of YO BK, a hot yoga and Pilates studio in Brooklyn puts it, “They see the same faces in class and create friendships within the community. High fives during Hot Pilates class also help!”
2. Your space
In a day and age ruled by powerhouses like Instagram and Amazon, people crave human interaction and real experiences more than ever. Just as your “people” are crucial for creating an attentive and inclusive environment, your space and floor plan have a major impact on whether or not a new client will feel comfortable enough to come back.
- Your space should match your brand. When your clients enter your studio for the first time after seeing your website or an Instagram ad, they should have an idea of what to expect and will feel comforted by that consistency.
- It’s the little things. Small touches are what your students appreciate about your studio and their experience there. Clients will remember you for having that extra hair tie available when they forgot theirs, those mints at the front desk, or the great-smelling shampoo in your showers.
- A virtual community is just as vital as a physical community for your studio. Try starting a private Facebook Group or group chat to encourage members to connect outside of class and create an environment for them to motivate each other. Have an Instagram? Great! Build your audience to increase brand visibility and show off some of your members working out and having a great time doing it.
3. Your partners
Don’t be hesitant to ask for help and seek out new partners. Look for a business that’s not only aligned with your goals and values but can also leverage their strengths to improve your weaknesses – and vice versa. This could be a partner who helps you encourage members to refer friends to your studio or even someone who could help increase brand awareness in your community. Here are some simple ideas to get you started:
- Tap into your local employer network! Peerfit is a company that helps fitness studios connect with corporate wellness to open new streams of revenue while fostering community. Learn more about how Peerfit can help you recruit local employee communities to your studio.
- Sign up with a local charity and sweat for a cause. This could entail championing a team for a local 5k, or hosting a “healthy happy hour” event onsite to raise money for a cause close to your members’ hearts. Not sure which organization to go with? Put it to a vote! Give your members the power to choose.
- Reach out to the coffee shop or juice shop next door. Give members a reason to hang out after class by bringing in healthy treats once a month, or work with the shop to create a coupon code that works for both businesses.
Loneliness is a rising epidemic in the United States, and community is the key to solving it. Whether you offer onsite co-working spaces, in-studio cafes, post-class massages, or something as simple as the occasional happy hour or holiday party, strengthening your community will provide your members a family both inside and outside the studio.