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Athletes at an affiliate gym

Strengthen Your Community to Strengthen Retention at Your Affiliate Gym

By Nt Etuk

Nurture your community or lose clients to your competition. 

As an affiliate owner, you're in the incredible position of nurturing, facilitating, and bringing the incredible energy of your community to life. This includes your gym itself, the coaches you hire, the workouts you create, and the countless small things you do to ensure a great experience for athletes.  

BUT don’t forget that, at its core, a fitness business is about human connection and interaction—not about how many unbroken double-unders you can do. Building a community is like any other type of skill work, so let’s break it down. 

As a client, I come to your box because I'm looking for a convenient, challenging place to get in a workout. But that’s just why I decided to enroll. Once I’m in, it’s all about my connection to the people—the coaches and the other athletes—that keeps me engaged.  

This insight supports the SurveyGizmo study of 1,211 US fitness consumers revealed by Mindbody in September 2017. The study asked the question, “Thinking about fitness businesses that you’ve attended repeatedly, what are the most important reasons you continue going back?” 

In order of importance, the answers were: 

  • Activity (the training style and workouts offered) 

  • Accessibility (the location, price, and schedule) 

  • Community (the coaches and other athletes) 

  • Amenities 

  • Music 

  • Daycare 

Once you get beyond the two base requirements for signing up in the first place—activity and accessibility—the most important factor is the people and connections made between them. 

In other words, once someone has chosen to WOD with you, the connections to others are what keep them around. 

I equate this to looking at why people stay in or depart from their hometown. 

A 2008 Pew Survey found that people who stay in their hometown, overwhelmingly say they remain because of family ties. Most say at least half a dozen members of their extended families live within an hour’s drive. That means that 40% of those people who stay in their hometown, more than 10 relatives live nearby. 

Equate this to your fitness business: your gym becomes their family. 

If you want people to stay, they need to feel connected to other “family” members. If they don’t, they’ll leave. 

In an increasingly fast-paced world, finding a “community” where we feel safe, where we feel a sense of connectedness, and where we feel a common set of interests with others is something we crave. 

Being a member at a gym is more than just what name you rep on your t-shirt; it’s somewhere we look to for that support more than ever before; and walking into a community of like-minded people, committed to the same fitness goals is something we deliberately seek out. 

So, if you want to drive retention and sales in your affiliate, focus on driving personal connection both inside the box and outside and invest in tools that expose, deepen, and allow those connections to flourish.

Interested in learning more?

Visit Mindbody Integrations

About the author:

Nt Etuk

Founder & CEO


Nt Etuk is both founder and CEO of FitGrid, the first community management system for fitness studios, and co-founder of The Boutique Fitness Summit. He graduated from Cornell University and Columbia Business School, has been recognized on Crain’s 40 Under 40, and has been featured on NBC, CNBC, and Fox, among other media outlets.

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