Why a Strong Community is Critical to a Gym’s Success

Often times when we hear the word ‘community’, we instantly associate it with ‘unity’, ‘togetherness.’ Within gyms, ‘the community’ is most often the #1 response of every day folks who report on what keeps them coming back to their training, day in and day out. Clearly, a strong community is the most important aspect to a gyms long term success.

As human beings, we all have an innate desire for community.
In fact, statistically speaking, the happiest people in the world are reportedly those who engage with people—face-to-face human contact upwards of 6-7 hours per day, according to a Gallup-Healthways Happiness report.

First and foremost, community gives us a sense of identity. It helps us understand who we are and feel part of something larger than ourselves. By nature we are social creatures, so it makes sense that connections with other people are central to our happiness. Think about human emotions and behaviors, for instance (ie. Kindness, love, compassion, reciprocity, gratitude, generosity, laughing, laughing)—all natural feelings you experience in a given day throughout your life that are intertwined with your community and relationships, others in your life. Or think about how difficult it is to end ties with people, or experience change in relationships (often painful to do so)—we are people ‘people’.

Interestingly enough, researchers have also found that “people with strong social connections have less stress-related health problems, lower risk of mental illness, and faster recovery from trauma or illness. Friends and family can also encourage and support us in healthy lifestyle habits, such as exercise and moderation.”

It’s simply how we are wired.

These noticing paint a picture of why exactly group training has become so successful. Many of us initially stumbled into group training, simply looking for community—coming together with a group of like minded people, working hard alongside one another, encouraging us to do things we would not do on our own, or to gain the support and push of others in our own endeavors.

Building a strong community starts with a few simple steps:

  • Control the Number of Clients – There are studies that show that 150 people is the limit by which a community begins to break apart and lose unity. Overpopulation can be detrimental to gyms that want to create strong communities. It may seem counterintuitive, but you can strengthen your community by limiting the number of clients you take in.
  • Manage Your Culture – Community always starts with culture. As a business owner or coach, you set the tone by which members will follow. Be supportive, open and fun in your interactions with clients will open the door for them to respond in the same way.
  • Find the Similarities – In what ways are you similar to your current clients? Finding these points of connection will help develop the bonds between individuals and ultimately the gym population at large.

However, you don’t need to be a group fitness gym in order to build a strong community. A common misconception of individualized design(what OPEX Gyms offer), however, is that it means you must forego the community aspects you know and love in your training, or that you must ‘go it alone.’

At OPEX, we hear this all the time from those considering a more individualized approach in their gym, but who are hesitant to ‘give up’ the community aspects of their gym business:

“My clients hate training alone.”
“My clients don’t get the same push from doing things on their own”
“I can’t have everyone in my gym doing different things.”

Contrary to popular belief though, the reality is quite the opposite. Community can, in fact, occur within an individualized design model, while concurrently empowering you, or your clients, to progress individually in their own fitness, strength, health and lifestyle endeavors.

How have you developed the culture and community in your gym? Let us know in the comments below.

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