Let’s just sum it up in one word:
Let me explain…
If you really want to “future-proof” your fitness business, then the entire MINDSET of your business (including you, your staff, your facility ambiance, etc.) MUST… and I mean MUST focus on building “COMMUNITY.”
I know you’ve heard this before.
But, most people just pay it lip service. As if “community” is some kind of millennial buzz-word.
It’s not just a buzz-word or something you can claim without being authentic.
It’s real. And, it’s happening right now.
What is Community..?
One way to add clarity to the concept of “community” is to compare a big box club against a boutique studio.
Visit any Planet Fitness or 24 Hour Fitness and you’ll see exactly how it looks to NOT have “community.”
Never mind that they’re just too big. They simply don’t have the mindset. (I know they claim to have it… but, they don’t.)
Contrast that with almost any modern “boutique” training studio where clients and staff know each other by name. (maybe this is you..!)
They train together and high-five each other at the end of their small group training sessions.
And, they are often “engaged” with the studio and other members via private Facebook groups, Instagram and other social media as part of their personal lives.
They are a TRIBE — actively building CAMARADERIE through a common cause.
And, that includes more than just physical fitness. Emotional well-being and mental fitness are part of the COMMUNITY feeling, too.
It is a culture of SUPPORT. (If you really want to get into the psychological weeds, this support translates into mutual caring and love for one another).
The Visual Component of Community
Beyond the actual support and camaraderie is the visual component of the community. The SYMBOL that ties it all together.
Yes, that’s right. Your BRAND.
Think of it like this:
Imagine your BRAND/LOGO is a needle with thread. That needle weaves and pulls together all the components of your community.
Here’s a good example. Glenn Greer and Luis Behar have done an excellent job building their COMMUNITY and tying it together with their brand: RZone Fitness.
Here’s another example: Dale Benedict and the COMMUNITY at his facility, The Training Studio, are more than happy to wear his branded T-Shirts.
For more than 20 years The Training Studio “Tribe” has trained together, competed in off-site events together (biking, walking, running, marathons, etc) — and hung out together as friends.
I kiddingly suggest Dale has created more than a COMMUNITY. It’s a CULT!
There is even a “sub-community” of young women who belong to his “Train Like a Girl” Program. Now, there’s a happy TRIBE!
Do you think this is a small thing..?
It’s not. In fact it’s HUGE when building a COMMUNITY.
Even something as simple as wearing a branded T-shirt symbolizes something much bigger.
It’s a COMMUNITY STATEMENT. It says they are “part of something.” That they “belong” to something bigger than themselves.
Listen…. as far back as recorded history…. countries, cultures and empires used SYMBOLS to identify themselves. Today, most nations use flags to symbolize who they are!
How to Do It
Think of all the different physical ways you can reinforce your sense of COMMUNITY. Among branding experts, these are commonly referred to as brand “touch points.”
You could probably add to the list:
- branded apparel
- branded supplements (of course!)
- branded journals (of course!)
- branded recipe books (of course!)
- branded water bottles
- branded coffee mugs
- branded towels
- branded yoga mats
- branded welcome kits (coming soon!)
- branded wall murals
Every single time your clients see your brand, it will remind them of the COMMUNITY to which they belong. It will evoke the emotional and physical sense of their own well-being.
And, when prospective clients see images on your website and social media they will sense the COMMUNITY “vibe.” They, too, will want to belong.
Digital Engagement of Community
Branded physical products, even at the “micro level,” have been around for many years. I’m super proud to be part of it with our branded journals, cookbooks, reference manuals, supplements and nutrition software.
But, today is different.
Now we have the opportunity to ENGAGE our COMMUNITIES outside our four walls — at any time of the day.
This is a BIG DEAL!
Unlike legacy fitness business models, we can now be much more proactive with our COMMUNITIES through DIGITAL OUTREACH such as:
- Facebook ads & organic posts
- Facebook private groups
- Facebook messenger outreach
- LinkedIn (corporate)
- Google Plus
- Blog Posts
- Email (email funnels)
- Text Messaging
- Webinars (Wght. Mgmt & Lifestyle Seminar Kit)
- Paid and/or Complimentary Courses (like Onboard 101)
- Subscription Services (new content like cooking classes each month)
- Online Consulting (Skype, Zoom, etc)
Again, imagine the needle and thread (brand/logo) pulling together all the components of your business — in both the physical and digital worlds.
It results in keeping your COMMUNITY ENGAGED with your BRAND.
This is UNIQUE to Us..!
One of the many “gifts” of our chosen profession is that health is universal.
In fact, Weight-Management is the second most popular subject in the world (right behind “wealth building”).
Just think about that for a moment. And, then compare your business with others such as:
- Car Mechanics
- Carpet Cleaners
- Dry Cleaners
- The list could go on forever…
How many of these businesses could literally:
- Build a TRIBE?
- Create a COMMUNITY?
- Conduct a DIGITAL OUTREACH PROGRAM to keep customers ENGAGED with their BRANDS?
The answer is: NONE OF THEM!
It is amazing how many health and fitness professionals don’t take advantage of this GIFT.
YOU are an expert at the second most popular topic in the world!
That means you already have an audience that needs and wants what YOU HAVE. —> ANSWERS and SOLUTIONS!
Most business owners, including the ones listed above, would “kill” to have a pre-disposed audience that is ready and willing to join a COMMUNITY of like-minded people with a common cause.
Start Future-Proofing Your Fitness Business Now
In case you haven’t noticed, this is exactly the point most big box clubs have missed.
They were convinced the best strategy to grow their businesses was all about price.
But, as it turns out, the high-value, low-price model is not only unsustainable, but, it really isn’t even what people want!
Yes, of course, it takes work to build COMMUNITY.
But, it is the absolute best way to future-proof your fitness business.
And, it all starts with YOU.
- Review all the bullets above and consider how YOU might start building “COMMUNITY” in your physical environment and in the digital online space.
- Reinforce your “COMMUNITY” with a symbol by IMPRINTING your BRAND on as many things as much as possible – both physical and digital.
It’s an insanely, noisy world out there. People truly want to “belong” to something with clarity and purpose.
YOU just need to give them the opportunity!