How to Create a Community and Get Better Results

Nov 6, 2019

By Tim Saye

In the third article of the "Real Results for Real Clients" series, we'll discuss the effect of a supportive community on fitness results and give you tips on how to build such a group around your business, whether you train clients in person or online.

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Why Do Fitness Communities Thrive?

Think of the Nike Run Club, and the different diet communities like Weight Watchers. People relate to people, Your clients hire you because they trust your knowledge, expertise, and that you can get them the results they desire. When adherence to the plan becomes tough, however, they will often be even more receptive to a piece of advice from someone they can relate to on a different level such as a client who has a similar job, or one of the same gender and age group that has faced the same struggles and overcome them.

In a nutshell, if you plan to stay in the industry for the long haul, you can only benefit from building a community around your brand. A group of people supporting each other will help you get better results and spread the word about your great trainer services and community.

Here's how you build an engaging and supportive community?

#1. Launch Group Classes

Not every personal trainer likes instructing group classes. Still, if that's something you enjoy doing, the easiest way to build a community is to create a consistent group fitness class schedule. 

At the start, it may take a few months for it to take off, and you need to be consistent with your marketing, as well as not cancelling sessions and ensuring you put on a workout people will love. Anything a bit different from the standard gym classes will attract people. Once they are through the door, you need to provide an experience they will love.

Whether that's music, the type of workout, environment, equipment used, your attention to detail when it comes to exercise form or a combination of all that, find things you are good at as well as different from others and be approachable before and after sessions for discussion.

Look after your loyal members and encourage them to welcome newbies and make them feel part of your fitness family.

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#2. Organise Socials

Meeting up with your clients out of workout gear for a meal or an activity will strengthen the bond not just between you and them but between your clients as well. 

Think of Christmas meals, quarterly night outs, organising activities like a climbing event, a hike or even going for a sail. Anything that suits your environment and can get your clients excited.

#3. Organise Challenges

People are competitive. Even those who claim they aren't bothered about comparing themselves to others will perform better in group sessions purely because there is group motivation and nobody likes to be left behind.

Consciously scheduling regular challenges where your clients can prove themselves will benefit every party. They will realise that they are stronger, fitter or better team players than they think. That sense of achievement will further deepen the connection between clients and keep them committed, engaged and interested to keep working towards their goals.

Think of team challenges, running or even obstacle race they can enter as a team. You can organise in-house challenges for individuals or groups that form within the community. Anything that gets them to push through limits they didn't think they could.

#4. Start an Online Community

The most obvious choice for an online group is via Facebook, but you can explore other options, like a forum on your website or other social media where your ideal clients hang out if Facebook wouldn't be their choice. We will use Facebook Groups and the above article as the basis for the following methods. Still, the principles are applicable on any online channels so long you have a system set-up that supports them.

- Keep the Group Private - There is a benefit to launching public groups, but if you'd like your members to open up about their fitness journey, ask questions and give advice based on personal experience, you need to make them feel safe.

- Screen Prospective Members - You can ask screening questions new applicants need to answer before they're approved to become members of your group. Use this opportunity to weed out spammers, trolls and anybody whose intentions may not be honest.

- Create Your Community Rules - Your group, your rules. If someone isn't willing to adhere to those rules, you can show them the door. Create guidelines that create the type of environment you'd like to provide to your community and ensure it's published everywhere for new members to see. You can even put it as a screening question whether they agree to it or not.

- Monitor Conversations - Introducing a monitoring system that warns those that aren't adhering to your guidelines then removes them if they keep up with damaging behavior will create that safe environment people crave. When the group becomes too big for you to manage, find trustworthy moderators who can help with that.

- Welcome New Members - Imagine the first day you went to school. Someone entering a group with many people will feel the same way. Encourage your members to welcome the newbies, explain how they can make the best out of their membership and let them know they can always come to you with questions.

- Encourage Conversations - Be present, ask thought-provoking questions, share content members can react to, comment on members' post to encourage others to post when they want to, and so on.

- Celebrate Member Wins - After asking for consent, feel free to share client success stories, no matter how big or small and encourage other members to share their own.

Once you have an engaging online group running, people will start to behave just like in person; encourage each other, ask for advice when stuck with something, etc. The more engaged your clients are in your community, the more likely they will hold up their end of the bargain and stay committed to their fitness goals. Their success will be your success, and the word will travel.

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