Fostering a Member Community
Fitness is big on community, but there are different levels of community fitness can provide, and only you, as a Affiliate owner can provide the small community feel that supports its athletes on a daily basis. The thousands of CrossFit discussion boards can create a community with the collective drive towards fitness, injury rehabilitation, nutritional changes and more, but this larger community can not provide the extra motivation needed on some days to get out of bed at 5:30am and hit up Fran or run a 5k. This larger community will not celebrate as much when someone gets their first pull up, after weeks of staying after class to work on them with a few other members. You want to create a member community where people are cheering for each other even in the middle of their own workout. You want a community that is accepting and engaged regarding the goals and abilities of others. Foremost, you want the kind of community where camaraderie runs so deep that your members will make dates for dreaded workouts and call each other up if one is missed.
It will take a lot of work now, but research studies have shown that the more you pour into building your community, the more successful you will be. Money spent towards advertising will drop as word of mouth takes over (bring a friend months can really kick start this), and as others see how much fun your members are having, they will want to join as well.
Ideas for Building a Community
- Host breakfasts and BBQs at your house. You can have a small buy in ~$5 to cover food costs. Make sure to have paleo and non paleo options, and if you choose amazing treats (like Nutella stuffed french toast) it could be a great cheat day for members to look forward to.
- Plan evenings out. You see each other sweaty day in and day out, but what about hitting the town for a night of drinks and nice clothes? Making a reservation, or just crowding into a small space can add to the fun of it!
- Hold fun sports related events. How much fun would it be to have a weekend Dodge ball bracket? What about learning to rock climb together? Add a little alcohol and these could be really fun times that bring members together.
- Have a monthly reading club. Athletes may be fit, but they are also multi dimensional. Hosting things like book clubs can bring together like minded members - plus you can steer the gym dialog through the books chosen.
- Host educational seminars. Most athletes are eager to learn more, and holding seminars is a great way to get people together, make a little extra cash and have some fun.
- Raise money for a cause. Yes, Fight Gone Bad is a great fundraiser, but it only happens once a year. Choose a charity close to the hearts of your members 9you could even have them vote on it every year) and then have a fund-raising contest. You could even track money raised, workouts attended and PRs attained to get an overall winner. Not only will this be fun for members, but it will also build your brand in your city (contact newspapers to let them know what you are doing and how much you raised)
- Have a comments box. Most members won't come up to you and voice a complaint. Having an anonymous comments box will let them tell you that they dislike the current rubber matting, are annoyed with all the broken plates, or are fed up with people coming into class late.
- Highlight athletes monthly. Highlight one athlete every month and post up a blog article on who they are, why they are amazing, what they contribute and what their current goals are. Members will love learning about each other and be thrilled when they are selected. You can even make a yearly calendar to sell of each spotlighted athlete.
- Attend competitions together. Get groups of people together to cheer on the competitors. Make it a badge of honor by supplying cowbells, signs, tent space etc for the supporters.
- Talk to members. Nothing makes someone feel more special than a bit of one on one attention and conversation. Find out how everyone is doing, how their work life is going etc, keep track and remember what they say for future conversations.
What do you do to foster a tight knit community? We would love to hear your methods!