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How to Create a Personalized Experience For Your Fitness Members

Matthew Cicci

Matthew Cicci

Why is a personalized experience for members so important at your fitness studio? Well…

I want you to remember the last time you flew the “friendly skies.”

You wasted time in a security line for 45 minutes (on the low end, right?).

Then, you waited around a crowded airport with other passengers for hours.

Finally, you boarded a plane with serviceable features like overhead reading lights, (possibly) fee-based beverage service, and a seat that may or may not have had a head rest…

Now imagine that instead of flying commercial, you were flying a private jet!

There are no lines.

The pilot would ask you where you wanted to go, how fast, and at what altitude.

Your food and drink would be catered specifically to your tastes.

The in-flight entertainment would be tailored to your personal preferences.

And instead of seats, there would be large, plush recliners and wall-to-wall sofas.

Nice, right?

That’s the difference between what a typical gym visit feels like for members versus a personalized experience they’ll love, remember, and never want to leave!

Even our friends at IHRSA agree, a personalized experience is going to be the biggest trend to hit the boutique fitness industry!

In the take-no-prisoners studio world of European-model-thin margins and Fifth Avenue-like amenities, it’s no longer acceptable to merely give people a workout.

Today, you have to create a culture and an experience that makes each client feel like they are in the private jet of fitness studios.

How to Create the “Personalization Effect” at Your Fitness Studio

That level of personalized experience is now expected. And, studios that fail to understand how to deliver such white-glove service, will end up struggling to hit class minimums and book sessions.

The good news is that this high-touch attitude of specialization is happening all around the industry right now. And by following their lead, you can reinvent your studio’s staff, technology, programming, and culture to give members that all-important sense of private, instead of commercial.

Is Your Staff Into Role Playing To Create A Personalized Experience?

A studio’s staff is unique. They have to be. We ask them to be brilliant and multitask in ways that big-box clubs do not. And, because there are only a handful of employees, an overabundance of potential touch points exist between staff and guest!

Now consider your fitness studio’s numbers. Is your team interacting with members more frequently than a traditional club’s staff (which in turn means more opportunity for negative exchanges)?

If so, how do you ensure that your team is consistently on brand and delivering the service, quality, and personalized experience that you strive to create in your studio?

I have two words for you: Role play.

Telling your team to do something is one thing, but watching them do it (over and over again) is something else entirely.

Teaching customer service is critical in order for your staff stand out from the studio down the street.

Owners who don’t set aside time every week to role play are in for a business riddled with turnover, grievances, and staff identity issues.

Make Technology Work For You… And Your Members

Technology is one of the biggest leaps forward for our industry in the past 10+ years.

The membership experience is no longer taking place solely at a physical address. It all starts with your CRM.

Studio software is so advanced now that it can track innumerable amounts of data on your clients. But, the best and most underused feature is the NOTES section!

Your staff should fill that area of a member’s profile page daily with information like injuries, referral opportunities (kids, spouses, coworkers, etc.), billing issues, instructor comments, and other feedback.

The goal is to create a more personalized experience between your member and fitness studio.

How to Create the “Personalization Effect” at Your Fitness Studio

Next, look over your app.

Is your fitness app merely a generic class scheduling tool? Or, does it provide studio updates and bulletin board-type information that your members can actually use?

Instructor changes, theme classes, promotions, and more are all small details that, when taken together, make the user feel like they’re in the know with their studio.

Then, there’s the actual class itself.

Heart rate monitoring is pretty standard these days, and some studios even offer VO2max and glucose testing as well!

Studio monitors can also demonstrate exercise technique with modifications for clients with physical limitations.

Finally, after the class is over, do you send follow-up communications regarding member’s progress, account activity, and successes?

Automatic emails, individual emails, traditional newsletters, eblasts, and monthly status check phone calls all go a long way to further develop the relationship with your members and their personalized experience.

You can do all of this with minimal effort, thanks to technology! And, implementing these changes will set your studio apart while making your members feel unique.

Create a Program of Change! Sometimes a Personalized Experience is as Simple as Something “Different”

Custom programs are great!

By their very nature, they’re meant to have a solid foundation of rules and policies that ensure a consistent quality standard. But, the best quality for these rigid systems to have is flexibility.

It’s not enough to just evaluate your classes, instructors, and operating procedures monthly or when problems arise—it needs to be done daily. On top of that, issues need to be addressed quickly!

Furthermore, the changes you make need to reflect the attitudes and preferences of your members… not your wallet, and not your team.

Trick Question

Here’s an all too common example. A studio has back-to-back classes. One draws members and the other doesn’t. Your options are to:

a) Combine the classes into one,

b) Drop the class that doesn’t draw, or

c) Change instructors to see if attendance rises.

What’s the best answer?

It’s actually a trick question. The answer is a, b, and c. And even d, e, f, g… you get the point.

Doing nothing will kill a studio’s energy, excitement, staff motivation, and most importantly, revenue.

So, make changes, make them often, and make them reflect the needs and wants of your members.

A studio that fails to change often might as well stock up on leg warmers, steps, and 80’s rock anthems.

Allow Members to Influence Your Culture, and Voila, a Personalized Experience is Born

Seth Godin’s book Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us has many useful insights for fitness studio owners…

He defines tribes as  groups (or communities) of people who are bonded by some purpose, ideology or practice, and who have a shared belief in each other.

In a big-box gym, tribes naturally develop on their own. The yogis, spinners, the treadmill groups, and massage addicts, just to name a few, each form their own little tribes.

mean girls personalized experience

But in the boutique studio world, the entirety of the membership base needs to become one cohesive tribe in order for the model to succeed. This might sounds contrary to a personalized experience, but it’s not.

What’s cool about a tribe—a tribe that can only be found at your fitness studio—is how much one person feels like they’re part of special… making they themselves special. We’re fun creatures.

So ideally, the member will end up dictating your environment, which is a good thing!

The job of the studio is to capitalize on this culture and expand it to whatever lengths it needs to create a personalized experience while simultaneously creating one that differentiates them from their competition.

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