Everyone likes to go where “Everybody Knows Your Name” just like at Cheers but since we’re fitness pros we need a different approach to getting to know our clients and helping our clients know one another.
Often a new client will bring a friend with them when they’re starting in your classes; that’s terrific, you get 2 or more new participants for the recruiting efforts of 1. Now, they’ll do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to entertaining one another, plus with 2 people in a social circle working with you, you’re more likely to get others from their posse as well. Their friends won’t want them to be off doing things without them. Especially if those things are fun and making them look and feel better. You want to get to know each of these people as individuals AND get to know as much as you can about their friendship too. The more integrated you’re able to get into their group (within reason) the better. They’ll think of you as a part of their group and it will make them much more loyal to your services.
Beyond these pre-packaged relationships though, I think it’s endlessly important to help the members of your classes get to know one another even though they began as total strangers. I get every bit as excited to see that 2 of my clients have become Facebook friends as I do to see they’ve set a new Personal Record with exercise. You’ll ALWAYS remember how you met a good friend and rarely do you think negatively about those experiences. Your classes and services will forever be viewed in a positive light for reasons beyond the tangible aspects such as good workouts, results, cleanliness of your facility, new equipment etc.
There are many ways to skin this cat, to foster an environment where people become friends with the once strangers they’re sharing your space with and I’d like to quickly highlight some of these below.
Keep in mind that I work exclusively in an environment that’s ultra social, there is minimal choreography and people are able to pay attention to one another once the explanations are over and the class is rolling.
❏ Once you know something likeable about a person, showcase it. David plays guitar and people might think that’s cool? Talk about guitar with him sometimes as a part of the room’s conversation. Tim makes his own beer and just entered a homebrew contest? You’d be silly to keep that a secret, help him get that word out. Everyone will wish him luck and follow up with him when they see him next. Paula is hilarious and is the captain of a trivia team? Give her a chance to be funny in conversations and share useless knowledge. Kathy is quiet in your classes but keeps coming week after week? She probably really loves the environment but you can let this person chill a little more. Most people won’t keep their personalities a secret for very long so it’s usually a pretty simple read. This all might seem pretty obvious but it’s amazing how many instructors do nothing to engage most of the people in their classes let alone playing them off of one another.
❏ Do Partner And Group Exercises. A lot of partner exercises are new to people so you’ll look like a real expert when you start breaking these out. Also it forces people into conversation with whoever they’re partnered with. I NEVER partner people with the person they came with. (I’m incredibly transparent about this too. I straight up say that part of the reason we’re doing this in today’s class is to meet someone new because I want the community to be tighter) It may be impossible to pair people with a stranger, especially if you’ve had a consistent group for awhile but do your best to pair people who will match well physically and personality wise and didn’t drive in together. When you’re doing this it’s important to have legit exercise selections and not just pick silly uneffective moves to round out a community building segment of a class. You want their conversations to be getting to know one another and how hard and effective, but fun the exercise is, not “do you feel this”? “Naw I think this move is strange and I don’t really like it” “Yeah me neither, let’s talk about some other trainer’s class over a coffee later”
❏ Have Socials Outside Of Class Twice a year I advertise an evening out to have a nice meal and a couple drinks with anyone who might wanna ditch the yoga pants and get together in a different setting. It always goes very well and usually attendance is 85-90% of my class population. Everyone is welcome to bring their spouse and it’s nice for me and everyone else to get to know these other people. We often hear stories about our friend’s partners and they surely hear stories about the people that torture them at the gym, a couple times a week so it’s great to be able to put a face to these stories. Remember, the people who come to these kinds of functions, don’t quit your class the next week. There is a reason for this, it etches the connection between you and them on a different level than just a fit pro and a client.
Remember as you work on getting your clients results and building a strong relationship with them, “people don’t care what you know as much as they want to know that you care” We’re not just counter bots, keeping track or reps, loads, and sets. We’re many of these people’s social time and personal time away from their stresses and responsibilities. Take this seriously and pay attention to making the most of their exercise and their personal experience as well.