We spoke to Stretch Rayner, Founder and Trainer at Momentum – CrossFit Hackney, one of London’s leading CrossFit boxes, who transformed Runner’s World’s, Kerry McCarthy into a lean machine. CrossFit Hackney affiliated the London Box Battles, who partner with Fresh Fitness Foods, Whatever It Takes and Motion Nutrition.
Regardless of whether you love CrossFit or if you hate it, there are some lessons that all brands can learn from CrossFit communities.
Many CrossFit gyms work with their local community and the people in their gym to build the presence of their gym. For example, you could partner with a local coffee shop by promoting their amenities to your gym, and in return, they may publicise your gym or offer a discount to your members. Similarly, they can move that promotion online. Another example may be that one of your members is a Web Designer, so why not use them to improve your website and in return offer them a discounted membership?
CrossFit gyms are very good at being resourceful in their immediate and local communities, meaning that we can build strong personal and business relationships very quickly in the local area. This infiltration is key in the very beginning stage of your gym launch to ignite the in the word of mouth promotion of your gym.
We do a members survey every year, which 90% of our members complete, to find out how our members found us and to ensure that their gym experience is going well. In 2014, 75% of our members said that they found out about our gym through word of mouth promotion, in 2015, that decreased to 60%, and last year it decreased even more to about 50%. The other stand-out promotion source was social media promotion, which showed a steady increase through the years.
2. Build a community through social media.
- Like local business pages, add your members as ‘friends’ and create private Facebook groups for your gym members, and different classes within your gym.
- Engage with your audience. Post members’ questions and gym instructors’ responses online (on a blog, or on social) to show your members that you are open and that you are listening to them. Facebook groups are a safe place for your member’s to share queries, or proud moments, and to encourage friendships offline, which makes for a great in-gym experience. On our main Facebook page, we post a mix of educational and inspirational blog content, but our members’ posts are often our best content; groups are so important to encourage that two-way engagement. A Facebook community itself is such a basic element of social media marketing and one that CrossFit communities do well, potential members can see what your gym is like, see the people they will be training with and really get a feel if it’s where they can see themselves. And existing members can engage with the gym even when they are not at the gym, which will help you to retain them as members.
- Post workouts online to build hype around the workout, to showing your investment as a coach, and to allow your members to plan their time around their gym visits. In-gym and online results boards can also be a key source of community building online, to engage with your audience and encourage others to share and be organic ambassadors for your gym.
- Know how social media is changing. Video is becoming more prominent, our members film themselves working out and post them on Facebook and Instagram, members have also ’gone live’ during class. Coaches can offer them advice from these videos and members who couldn’t make the class can workout independently using the videos as a reference.
3. Live offline.
You can have a good social media community but you have to translate your online affinity to offline promotion. Many CrossFit gyms have their own apparel, the members wear the apparel to show pride for their gym community, which in turn helps to build the brand and community presence online and offline.
4. Focus on your trainers and members rather than on equipment.
Some CrossFit gyms focus on the importance of equipment and technology (apps) to be impressive, however, we have stuck with whiteboards and basic equipment “old skool” equipment, but we have put a bigger focus on better programming and coaching. Anyone can open a gym, but there is a difference between awareness of the quality of coaching, with stricter movements and safer changes, and a gym that looks good but hasn’t got the quality of coaching to support its members. Listen to what your members want and develop your gym to suit them. They way I see it is, as a gym member, are you getting a complimentary towel or are you getting brilliant results?
A solid community and great coaching is a formula that CrossFit gyms have used to ensure that people want to join and members don’t want to leave.
Are you a gym owner or a PT? Read more articles to help you improve your gym.