A community refers to a group of individuals who share common interests and attitudes. The fitness community can be a melting pot of culture where individuals from all walks of life share a common goal of self-improvement. Acting as a chamber of positive reinforcements, a fitness community is crucial in supporting and motivating an individual on her fitness journey. From a business perspective, a strong community not only aids in customer retention, it builds the brand of a fitness studio, giving it a sustainable competitive advantage over others.
Based on the CMX social identity circle theory, there are three elements to building a community: Participation, Validation and Identification. Here are some ways this theory can be applied to your fitness business:
Step 1: Participation, building a platform to allow users to communicate
Social media is a common touchpoint used by businesses to engage customers. Having a social media presence is essential for almost all businesses in this day and age. A quintessential example of a successful brand will be Revolution Singapore. Revolution’s Instagram account has over 10,000 followers, with each post receiving approximately 300 likes. Its branding is unique, as communicated through the flow of its posts. From exciting Theme Rides to informative posts on Riding Technique, Revolution ensures that its viewers achieve utility and enjoyment from its page.
In group fitness classes, having a class chat can enable communication between the trainer and customers as well as between customers. Regular customers can utilize the class chat as a springboard to better know one another. This facilitates sharing of information and skills that can bring forth a collaborative spirit when approaching fitness. For example, vibefam is a local booking and payment solution that provides the class chat function.
Step 2: Validation, incentivising communication
Community challenges are a great way to incentivise communication and break the ice. For example, Ark Bloc Singapore hosted a successful powerlifting meet in December 2022, gathering close to a 100 competitors participating in 20 categories. Aside from an increase in brand awareness from the publicity and coverage of this event, many gym-goers had the opportunity to communicate and bond over their common interest in powerlifting.
Other fitness studios like The Ring Boxing Community take communication to the next level by organizing a Boxing and Breakfast event. In collaboration with PrimeTime SG, this event aims to be both a cardio and networking session, blending fitness with socializing.
Step 3: Identification, forming a social identity
Lastly, building a fitness community requires the unification of its members under a social identity. This social identity is in line with the branding of your gym or fitness studio. For example, EXERGAME4D by Ascend Fitness teleports your fitness class in the future using projection mapping and motion sensing. Originating in Korea, this paradigm of workouts gamify one’s usual strength and aerobic workout to be immersive and futuristic. In this case, the gym creates a distinctive brand of being technologically advanced and refreshing. This attracts a niche group of individuals who come together under the identity of thrill-seeking and competitive.
On the other hand, luxury gyms like Virgin Active build its brand around extravagance and luxurious comfort. With 6 gyms in Singapore, Virgin Active provides amenities like a Himalayan Rock Salt inhalation room, sleep pods and ice rooms. The gym constructs a brand of opulence, well portrayed in its spacious and immaculate interior design, attracting members who also relate to this social identity. Hence, building a social identity that your customers can uphold is crucial in strengthening your fitness community.
In conclusion, having a fitness community in your studio creates extrinsic value and it promotes greater brand advocacy. When your gym becomes more than just a place to workout, the memorable experiences created increases the mindshare and eventually, market share of your brand.