Skip to main content
McAlister Training San Luis Obispo

How to Build an Empowering Fitness Studio Community

By Lauren McAlister

July 25, 2023

If there’s one thing I’m most proud of as a studio owner, it’s our community. Google reviews would tell you our atmosphere “has an awesome family feel;” “is friendly, lively, motivating, and encouraging;” and that our team and members are “incredibly welcoming."

Now, I won't take all the credit for our community vibe—the magic really does happen naturally—but I will tell you my team and I do everything we can to:

  1. Create an environment where everyone feels welcome (no cliques here!)
  2. Build genuine relationships with and between our members

Our community sets our business apart and keeps our members coming back. Here’s how we’ve cultivated a "studio fam,” and how you can, too.

1. Define your values

My experience: We’ve always been crystal clear about what matters to our studio. Outside of providing really great workouts, our goal is to make sure every person who walks through our doors feels seen.

My advice: Take time to identify and communicate your brand values and mission. Set expectations about how you engage with your team and members—and how you expect them to engage with one another. Once defined, reinforce your values during employee onboarding, through your marketing efforts, and on your website. This will lay the foundation for a respectful, compassionate, and tight-knit group.

2. Lead by example

My experience: A welcoming environment starts at the top. My husband (and co-owner) and I understand our personal responsibility to embody the values we want to instill in our community. Our actions pave the way for our team and members.

My advice: Set the tone for your business. Be positive, supportive, and welcoming. Introduce yourself to new faces and check in with existing members. Take time to answer questions, ask for feedback, or simply chat. Community starts with connection, and it all starts with you.

3. Choose your team wisely

My experience: Our team is an extension of us. We take our time to choose the rightpeople, ideally from within our community. That way, they already have a strong understanding of our values and a good internal rapport, which trickles down to the rest of our studio.

My advice: Don’t rush the hiring process. Make sure every prospective employee aligns with your values, has excellent communication skills, and genuinely wants to connect with others. Once they’re on board, do a values deep dive so everyone is on the same page. Encourage them to attend classes (members love it!) and community events, too.

4. Make an impact with first timers

My experience: From our pre-class automated text messages to our customized welcome sign at the front desk, we go above and beyond to make our first-time visitors feel welcome. As a result, our members do the same.

Before they sign up

My advice: Give new folks a sense of what it’s like inside your studio before they even sign up for that first class.  Use your website and social media to show, not tell, what your studio and members are like. Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook are perfect platforms to introduce your team; highlight your brand values; showcase your workouts, members, and community events; and answer FAQs.

When they arrive

My advice: Train your front desk staff to welcome every new person with a smile and by name. Have them give a tour of your space, introduce them to whoever is leading the class, and, depending on how your workouts are structured, pair them up with a friendly studio veteran.

While they're in class

My advice: Create opportunities for existing members to interact with newbies during the workout. Add partner exercises or group activities that encourage teamwork and connection. Encourage high-fives or fist bumps, too.

5. Host get-togethers

My experience: We prioritize regular social events. For us, that means challenges, games, and outdoor workouts. We also throw non-workout gatherings like movie nights, potlucks, kickball games, and more.

My advice: Host casual get-togethers to give members a chance to connect with one another in a non-workout setting. Not only are they good for cultivating long-term relationships, but they’re just plain fun.

Our team has created an environment where individuals feel connected, motivated, and excited to come back day after day—and yours can, too. Building a strong community takes time and consistent effort. It doesn’t happen overnight, but I promise: It’s so worth it.

About the author:

Lauren McAlister

Lauren McAlister

Senior Marketing Content Specialist


Lauren is the co-owner of a fitness studio and a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP). Born and raised in California, Lauren has a heart for fitness, travel, and baking. She's also passionate about crafting meaningful content for others in the wellness space, which makes her role at Mindbody a perfect fit.


Explore related topics

New resources, straight to your inbox

Get updates on the latest industry trends, tips, and news.

We're committed to your privacy. Mindbody uses the information you provide to us to contact you about our relevant content, products, and services. You may unsubscribe at any time. View Privacy Policy

Back to top