I have a special place in my heart for the fitness community. Maybe it’s because I’ve owned (and still do) a few studios and maybe it’s because I love to sweat, but either way, I have a passion for helping my fitness studio owners connect with their clients, engage in a meaningful way, and improve overall retention (and we all know – hopefully—that it’s far cheaper to keep a client than it is to bring on a new one). So here are my top 15 ways to connect with your fitness clients and keep them coming back:
- Learn names and use them. Ok, so if you have a class of 50, I don’t expect you to know everyone right away, but you should make an absolute effort to use everyone’s name at least once in class and try to commit those names to memory. Even better? Connect with your fitness clients in a text, call, or email and let them know how great they are doing!
- Give recognition. Pick a student of the month! Give awards for hitting milestones and personal records. Make an effort to inspire, motivate, and encourage! Even better if you can offer them studio-branded, exclusive swag when they hit those class milestones like 50, 100, or more!
- Make it fun. Everyone loves a theme! Country Western Wednesday. 80’s Day. Black Light Night. Holiday anything! There are literally infinite options to add excitement and engage your clients. Never miss the opportunity to work a holiday! I know it seems cliché, but it’s still fun … and fun is addicting!
- Share the music. Before and after class, you have an opportunity to reach out to your clients with something as simple as music. Does anyone have a request? Do you want to share a special playlist? Do it! Music can motivate in a way that’s completely unexpected and incomparable!
- Encourage socialization. And by socialization, I mean social media. I don’t want you to feel like a slave to your phone, but reach out to your clients on social media and encourage them to post pictures of their workouts (you did take some, right?) with their friends and tag you and/or the studio. People want to brag about your awesome classes, so give them the opportunity.
- Ask for referrals. Although word-of-mouth isn’t exactly a marketing strategy, there is no better way to connect with your future ideal clients than with a direct referral. So, you need a referral program of some kind. Don’t be afraid to ask for one!
- Throw a party. Studio anniversaries, student showcases, special events, whatever the reason, give your clients the chance to celebrate and interact outside of the traditional workout environment. Celebrations bring people together and a good fitness studio/company will be just as interested in community as classes.
- Reach out. Your instructors are amazing, obviously, but there are a lot of other amazing instructors in the world, too. Invite guest instructors to teach at your facility and introduce your students to all the world offers. They will appreciate the experience and super-appreciate you and your facility.
- Work outside the box. Offer something out of the ordinary like blacklight classes, candlelight classes, recovery or flexibility weeks (or even just minutes at the end of class), and more. Offering something a little out of the ordinary will keep things interesting for your clients.
- Create a Selfie Space. Is there a special wall in your studio that showcases your brand (or just screams your name)? Encourage your students to take selfies and tag the studio. Maybe even offer a ring light for their efforts. You want to make sure everyone shows off their best side (your students and your studio).
- Plan events. Whether it’s once a week or once a year, plan an event or two for your clients, outside of the normal workout. Things like beach barbeques, hikes, meal-prep parties, potlucks, family picnics, or charity events (LOVE charity events!) are great for this AND build a stronger community!
- Give some options (but not too many). Allow your clients to pick a part of their workouts, occasionally. Bands or balls? Legs or Abs? Hip Hop or Rock? Giving your students the opportunity to contribute to class can increase their engagement and remind them that these workouts are geared toward them! Bonus: if you have chosen a student as the Student of the Month, or if it’s their birthday, you can offer them a chance to tailor the workout with warm-up songs, favorite exercises, etc.
- Pick up your phone. It’s amazing how something as simple as a phone call or text can brighten a student’s day! Auto texts and emails are ok, but a personal touch is always better!
- Write an actual letter. And while we are on the subject to connect with your fitness clients, grab a pen and paper and write an actual letter to show them how much you care. Reach out for birthdays, anniversaries, or just to say thank you. You can even throw these notes next to their gym bags or on their car windshields while they are in class. Everyone likes a little love surprise after a sweaty session!
- Host a pop-up. This one is especially helpful before the holidays. Create a Sip and Shop event with local vendors (or maybe even your client’s wares), special deals, and light refreshments. See if you can partner with other local vendors in the area for an added bonus of strategically aligning yourself with other business owners. These are best held on a Saturday or Sunday, preferably right before or after classes so you have added foot traffic.
Retention is more than just dollar signs—it’s about creating the kind of community they (and you) would want to be a part of. Give your clients more and more reasons to come back to your studio by treating them the way they want to be treated. Make them feel appreciated, noticed, and wanted. People can work out anywhere, but they chose you for a reason! Use any and all of the above tips to remind your students why they love your space and keep them coming back and referring you for years and years. The key is to make your engagement genuine, sincere, and enthusiastic!