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Justin Dominick, the senior director of fitness at the JCC of Greater Baltimore, shares four ways to create community through fitness.

Being part of a strong, vibrant and diverse fitness community has long been proven to create lasting improvements to your mind, body and spirit. Creating, fostering and maintaining these relationships can be difficult. However, if you follow a few simple steps, you will find it to be one of the most rewarding things you can do for your business and your community. A friendly and welcoming community within your facility will lead to more returning customers who will be getting better results.

How To Build Community at Your Facility

1. Introduce new members to “veteran” members and other staff to make them feel welcome.

New members are likely nervous walking into your facility the first few times. It’s important you make them feel comfortable. The likelihood of them wanting to return if they feel ignored, left out or uncomfortable is very low. Introducing new members to “veteran” members and staff is a great way to make them feel better about their first few visits to your facility. It also makes them want to come back for more.

2. Do other stuff than workout.

Planning non-workout events is one the of the best ways to strengthen your community and create relationships. Plan events both on-site and offsite that have nothing to do with fitness or working out. As your community starts to grow these may start to happen on their own, but as a leader of your fitness community make it a point to plan some of these from time to time. The bonds formed in non-fitness events will only work to create strong workouts and a strong community.

3. Create leaderboards and challenges.

Use a whiteboard or online platform to create a “leaderboard” that will allow your members to challenge each other in different events. You can also create challenges or contests at different times of the year that are difficult and tough yet achievable for most of your members. These things create competition, and it’s great to see how your members will support each other and do whatever it takes to come out on top. Some of your members may even be encouraged to try a new activity.

4. Create private and public Facebook (or other social media) groups.

This day and age it’s a good bet that 95% of your members have a smartphone, which means they can probably access these types of groups. These platforms are a great way to post updates about your facility, provide tips about training and nutrition and allow your members to communicate and support each other when they are not at your facility.

Creating community through fitness doesn’t not happen overnight. You will need to be patient as you may only have a handful of members participate in your first few contests, challenges or social activities. That is all you need initially. Be persistent and keep coming up with new ideas. Create energy and excitement and before you know it all your members will be lined up for your next one.

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Justin Dominick

Justin Dominick is the senior director of fitness for the JCC of Greater Baltimore. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association with over 15 years of industry experience as a coach and trainer. He utilizes a multifaceted approach for optimizing performance concentrating not only on strength and conditioning, but also nutrition, mindfulness and recovery. Over the last 10 years, Justin has been directly involved in club and facility operations and management.

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