Whether your clients are training for their next competition or just trying to get healthier, they don’t have to go it alone. People are more likely to exercise when those around them are doing it too, right? But how do you build a community in your gym? And what steps can you take to foster that community?
Create a Buddy System
Many clients respond well to the buddy system and perform better when there are friendly competitions and mutual encouragement. Think of ways you can offer your current clients this option. New clients may benefit significantly from being introduced to veteran clients who may have shared the same type of fitness goal and achieved it.
Behavior change is hard. Support groups or sponsors can work wonders in keeping a client on track or getting him or her back on track when faced with a relapse. Encourage clients to identify a sponsor they can turn to (outside of you) for additional emotional support. In turn, you can create small support groups that meet at your studio, someone’s house, or public space to hold intimate conversations about goals, progress, and challenges.
Schedule Group Activities and Workouts
If you have several clients who are struggling with the same thing (portion control, meal prep, morning motivation, etc.) create and offer some a group activity, workshop, or social gathering where those clients can meet for additional support and motivation. Exercising with a companion or in a group, whether at yoga sessions or dance classes or when cycling, has many upsides. That’s because people tend to stick more faithfully with group exercise classes than with solo fitness routines.
Set-up Online Discussion Boards
Some of your clients may process their thoughts better through written forms of communication versus oral conversations. As you know, social media offers a number of potential outlets for you as the professional to create group chat boards for clients to participate when they are able. You can facilitate participation by posing reflective questions, prompts and challenges. What matters most is that clients have a space to share their ideas, frustrations, and exciting news and receive feedback and comments from their peers.
Create Brag Boards (IRL and Online!)
You should never overlook the importance of celebrating your clients’ success. Create a gym or studio brag board where you share the successes of your clients. Cheer on your clients and encourage them to cheer each other on and focus on building up.
Communities are important for fostering inclusion and for sharing the message that “we aren’t alone” in whatever challenge we face. What can you do today to work towards the goal of integrating a sense of community into your work and your clients’ experiences with you and each other?
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