When does a gym become more than a gym?

If you want your gym business to grow, you focus on two core objectives. Attracting more new members and retaining more of your existing ones.

Doing that takes much more than just offering them classes, new equipment and great activities. If you want to stop existing members from cancelling (even with cost of living increases), you need to become more than a gym.

Members are crystal clear on what they want. They want to feel part of a stronger fitness community.

Make that happen, and you’ll retain more members and grow your gym business.

A strong sense of community is essential

Creating that community fitness feeling is essential for your gym. Your members are looking for it – and creating social bonds means they’ll feel even more like a part of your gym. That your gym is a part of their daily life.

And once they feel like that, they’ll find it much harder to cancel their membership.

A strong sense of community is essential because it:

Helps members feel valued

Nobody wants to be a statistic. They won’t feel valued if they’re member number 43678. They want to be part of a real community. They want to meet and recognise and know people and be recognised and known in return.

Creates social bonds

A sense of community spirit creates real bonds between people. Between your members and your staff. And between members and your other members. They’ll get to know each other and look forward to seeing each other.

Encourages more visits

We want to see and spend time with our friends. It’s human nature. If your members have friends at your gym, then it’s natural that they’ll want to visit your gym and spend time there. It makes their membership a core part of their social life.

Creates something bigger than “just the gym”

When your members feel valued, when they form solid social bonds with other members, and when they spend more time in the gym, they don’t feel like members. They feel like part of a community. They’ll stay loyal to your gym – even if a competitor offers a different class or a new piece of equipment, they’ll stay with you and the people they know.

They’ll feel like they belong. And it’s that belonging that makes your gym much more than a gym to them.

How to create a community for your gym business

1. Look past the workouts

Post-exercise recovery services, such as massage and nutrition, help your members to see your gym as more than just a place to work out. They’ll see it as a place to relax after a workout, to unwind, de-stress, and improve their overall health. Which means they’ll stay longer and interact with more people.

2. Increase personal interactions

That extra time your members are spending in your gym? That’s an opportunity to increase the personal interactions they have with your team. By putting more staff on the gym floor and having them check-in with members, ask how they’re doing, and help them track their progress, you’ll foster those important interpersonal relationships.

3. Create group interactions

Interactions between members are also key. By creating classes that focus on members working together, you’ll help them create social bonds with each other. What starts as having a new workout buddy in a group class can easily turn into a solid friendship built around your gym.

4. Move beyond the gym

You aren’t limited to your own four walls when it comes to creating a sense of community. You can place your gym at the centre of social interactions between members by organising other activities, including outdoor classes and activities, regular bootcamps, or even weekend fitness trips.

5. Provide people with a place to talk

You can also help form and solidify the personal connections that create a sense of community by providing space and leaving members to it. Repurpose unused space to create chill-out spaces or invest in a café with nutritious post-workout snacks, and you’ll give all of your members an opportunity to connect – with your gym at the centre of every social interaction.

A gym is more than a gym when it’s a community

Your members want to be part of something, and creating a strong community feel in your gym is a key way to do just that. By encouraging social interactions and providing the space and opportunity to get to know people, you’ll build more than “just a gym.”

You’ll build a long-lasting, strong fitness community.

Looking for more ways for your gym business to become an essential part of your members’ lives and keep them coming back again and again? Don’t forget to download our latest guide: 8 Ways to Supercharge Gym Member Retention.

Article by Xplor Gym

First published: 12 September 2022

Last updated: 09 February 2024