How a Community Focus Can Change Fitness.
TRX guru and Fitness Literacy advocate Fraser Quench has a Ted Talk where he admits that he has failed as a fitness professional. With more than 60% of Canadians not exercising enough each week to derive the benefits of it, it’s hard to argue that anyone working in the industry is not a failure, myself included.
Despite admitting these failures, Fraser has a moment of genius in his talk where he acknowledges that we have to shift our focus and concentrate on the playful elements of human movement in order to get more people active. I agree and second that by suggesting that we need to focus on the community and shared experiences that human movement offer as well. Community is a fundamental value of Momentum Fitness and I believe it should be a focal point of not only fitness businesses but every business. When I say community I don’t mean charity or giving back, although these are also virtuous endeavours. To me, community means removing the competitive culture that is pervasive in fitness. It also means focusing less on the individual. Instead, we need to create a co-operative culture that brings people together and focus more on being part of something bigger than ourselves.
When I started Momentum Fitness I made sure that community was at the core of everything we did.
I knew that if we could get people to focus on being part of a group, a community, they would focus less on the things that limit them from exercising on a regular basis. Things like intimidation, lack of knowledge, lack of time, lack of motivation, fear of looking stupid or doing something wrong.
To do this we use a simple but genuine strategy.
All we want to do is bring people together and create new opportunities for them that they never had before or have never had the courage, means or network to do on their own.
The results have been amazing. What I love most is that no matter what differences people have (including their fitness levels) the next time they are in the gym and see each other, those differences melt away because of the shared experiences they have had. They are connected by being part of the same community.
So how did we build a community…
1. Hired a Community Lead – we hired someone to create a calendar, organize events, promote what we are doing and recruit participants. They are also our liaison for charitable events and social media point.
2. Engagement Activities – we focus on 5 engagement activities including:
Clubs, Challenges, Social Events, Community Events and Workshops. The goal with these events is to offer different opportunities for people to learn or try something new.
3. Social Media – most fitness centres are heavy on sharing content related to exercises or nutrition. Our focus is on featuring our people as it relates to our community. We feature members in our member of the month spot, or members who have a business or events and causes that are going like the Climb for Cancer, Around the Bay or Road to Hope. We feel it’s more real and in line with what is important to us.
4. The answer is always YES – we might not have a huge budget to support different causes but we can always be involved. We do this by participating, promoting or donating. We can always do something and this shows that community is part of our make up.
I truly believe that our focus on community is our biggest competitive advantage in a saturated marketplace. We have seen reduced dormancy, way higher retention than industry averages and way more referrals as a result. I know that with a shift towards community we will get more people moving and enjoying exercise on a regular basis.