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How Fitness Studios Can Continue to Keep Connected with Their Communities During COVID-19

By Lauren McAlister

Uncertainty is the name of the game for fitness businesses these days. However, one thing is for sure—your clients need connection more than ever.

Thankfully, the status of your physical studio doesn’t mean you can't stay in touch. Whether you're open, closed, or toggling between the two, you can continue to engage and even grow your community by thinking outside of the box—or in this case, the studio.  

We’ve compiled (and will continue to add to) this list of creative ways to keep your fitness clients connected—for however long the ups and downs of the coronavirus last.

Host virtual happy hours/get togethers

What we do is so much more than a workout—it’s about the relationships we have with our clients and the bonds they build with each other.

It’s likely your clients (and your team) are missing the normal face-to-face time we used to take for granted—think workshop events, large holiday parties, etc. Especially if your studio is closed or facing imminent closure, schedule regular virtual get-togethers to strengthen your community connection and fill the gap for now.

Make it fun by theming your get-togethers—have a pajama party, a luau happy hour, or a fancy Friday virtual hang. Another idea—rotate virtual get together “hosts” and encourage staff members or clients to get creative and play games, speak on a topic they’re passionate about, or demo a skill (baking, cocktail making, hand lettering, etc.)

Add in virtual one-on-one or small-group offerings

If your physical space is closed and you don’t already offer small group or one-on-one sessions, now may be the perfect time to start. The benefit of having a one-on-one appointment on the books with your trainer is the much-needed accountability factor. Who knows? You may convert a diehard group class attendee to a class and one-on-one fan. Here's more on virtual 1:1 sessions.

If your fitness business has reopened, it's likely you're operating at reduced capacity. Personal or small group sessions enable more hesitant clients to workout safely (less clients = more social distance) and serve as an additional revenue source for your business.  

Develop an accountability program

Accountability is one of the main reasons consumers say they prefer in-person fitness. Over the past year, though, we’ve learned in-person isn’t always possible. So, what do you do? Consider creating an accountability program.

First, survey your members to determine the level of interest. Then, partner with your staff and members to create accountability partners or groups. Each set of opted-in partners or group can determine how they want to communicate—via email, text, or private Facebook group—and can set goals together. Whether it’s simply encouragement to sign up for class, or a commitment to attend a set number of workouts per week—your program can be customized to the needs of your business and your clients.

As the business owner or manager, make sure you outline specific guidelines, including dos and don'ts for your staff and members, and be part of regular check-ins to see how the program is going. 

Partner with other fitness businesses

Switch up your live stream schedule by partnering with other fitness studios in your area. Are you a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) studio? Partner with a yoga business to provide a well-rounded workout schedule (plus, your clients might be extra tight spending more time sitting at home and need an extra dose of stretching). Own a barre studio? Partner with a dance spot to add in some cardio.

Even if your studio has reopened, this can be a fun way to mix up your hybrid schedule—in-person, outdoors, or online. It's also a good way to introduce your business to prospective clients who want to diversify their routines. 

The lesson here: The more we work together, the better. Plus, your community will be grateful for fresh additions to your schedule.

Offer rewards for social media challenges

Up your challenge game, and promote safe social distancing, by asking clients to post photos of themselves doing workouts, a movement of the day, or making a healthy recipe at home. Encourage participation with prizes like branded swag or gift cards to local businesses. VYB Studio in Durham, North Carolina, created their own NamaSTAY at-home yoga challenge, giving participants a chance to win free, branded swag in exchange for posting yoga poses on Instagram. 

Another idea that works whether your physical studio is open or closed—create an attendance bingo challenge. The best part is, depending on your current offering and capacity, you can encourage clients to mix up their schedules to suit your business needs. Want to encourage virtual attendance? Add more bingo squares for virtual. Want clients to try a specific in-person class or instructor? Add more bingo squares for those. 

Host virtual workshops

Regardless of your open/closed status, a virtual workshop is a chance to both engage with clients and educate on topics you aren’t normally able to cover in class. Plus, it's the safest way to host an event right now.

Give members a discount (or an incentive to continue their autopay) and charge a small fee for drop-ins. Whatever you decide, clients will love seeing your face and learning about especially relevant topics like:

  • Stress reduction 101

  • At-home stretching

  • Foam rolling basics

  • Snacking dos & don’ts

  • Healthy DIY desserts

Send a survey or run a poll on Instagram Stories to see what topics your clients want to learn about most. If you decide to host a virtual workshop series, develop a consistent schedule—and stick to it. That way, your members know what’s coming up and can invite their friends and family to join, too.

Connect with your clients individually

Show your community how much you care by reaching out individually to members. A simple phone call, text, FaceTime, or even a notecard in the mail is a small gesture that will mean a lot.

Right now, it’s the little things that mean the most. Don’t underestimate what a bit of extra effort can do to keep your clients motivated and connected. After all, our communities are the lifeblood of our businesses and our clients are worth fighting for.

Want more ideas from business owners like you?

Join the Community

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.


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