By Nt Etuk, SUCCEED! Speaker  

“We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding–tribes. This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival.” - Sebastian Junger in the book Tribe

One of the few places where people regularly come together with a common purpose is in our fitness studios and gyms. In society, however, people report feeling disconnected from others. For example, Forbes reported on a survey of 20,000 people, revealing that approximately 40% of respondents said they “lack companionship,” their “relationships aren’t meaningful,” and they feel “isolated from others.” Given statistics like these, it’s almost obligatory that we attempt to introduce members and clients to each other in our fitness studio spaces.

What Fitness Studio Members Want (Besides Health & Fitness)

Connecting others is also good business because the more connected—and the more deeply connected—clients are to other studio members, the more likely they are to stay. This could also include connections between instructors, trainers, other clients and the studio owner! 

People want a sense of belonging. The fitness businesses that succeed the most – particularly the businesses that deal with people – are those that build belonging into their operating models and plans. They create spaces and opportunities for people to connect.  They offer tools to bring people together.

Create More Connections at Your Fitness Studio

Connecting others is also good business because the more connected—and the more deeply connected—clients are to other studio members, the more likely they are to stay.

Companies actively engaged in building belonging and community include big brands, such as CrossFit, SoulCycle, Sofar Sounds (a music event company), OfferUp (a mobile-driven local marketplace) and Starbucks. These organizations realize that the next frontier beyond social “likes” or “follows” is the fostering of deep, real-life, in-person connections.

This is something that we, in fitness, are uniquely positioned to do.  So how do we do it? 

For starters:

  • Look happy to see every fitness member when they walk in the door
  • Interact and encourage others to share stories and participate with each other
  • Give credit to others when credit is due
  • Challenge your clients and employees to grow and reach new limits
  • Connect people to each other

Think about your own fitness studio environment and how many of these points you already do or could include in your daily operations? 

Express happiness when we see people?  Instructors do that all day. As a gym owner, do you do this? Plan ways to make members feel even more welcome...

Give credit?  How many high fives go around the room after a particularly hard set of exercises?  We could encourage that more...

Challenge your people to push themselves? We’re experts at that in the fitness industry...

In fact, it occurs to me that the two things we don’t do so well in our space is actually connect people and give them a place to share stories and participate with each other. 

If you want to see your retention spike, ask your instructors and trainers, and also ask your clients, to start introducing themselves to each other. In fact, play host and do the introductions for them. Find the tools and the moments to make that happen. 

The more people feel part of a group, the more they’ll invest in staying part of that group

Join Nt Etuk in his session at SUCCEED! AFS' Annual Business Convention & Expo (April 12-14, 2019 in Irvine, CA) and leave with an action plan for creating better community, connections and retention at your fitness studio.  

Utilizing Technology to Connect Your Studio's Community and Supercharge Retention and Sales

Nt Etuk is the Founder of FitGrid, a ground-breaking communication and connectivity platform for fitness communities. Nt also founded DimensionU, creator of the award-winning 3D educational videogame platform. Previously Nt worked with Citigroup and McKinsey. He is a Crain’s 40 Under 40 awardee, a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer, and a Henry Crown Fellow at The Aspen Institute.  He has been featured numerous times in publications such as Forbes, BusinessWeek, and The New York Times, and has been a guest on a number of networks including NBC, CNBC, and Fox, among others.  Nt holds a BS in Computer Engineering from Cornell and an MBA from Columbia Business School.