A personal letter to the boutique fitness industry about the importance of community.
When the pandemic arrived in March 2020, I saw two massive crises that would hit the boutique fitness market:
- The immediate shock to studios and studio owners of having to lock down
- The longer-term (and harder) realization by studio owners that they weren’t fully prepared to compete in a new digital world where everyone else was trying to do the same thing at the same time (especially when it came to acquiring and retaining clients)
My reaction to the first threat was to immediately pivot my company, FitGrid, to develop and push out a live stream solution that automatically connects Mindbody to schedule Zoom meetings and send automatic links to instructors and clients.
We were the first to launch a live stream solution to studios. We did it because we knew our studio partners needed a way to continue offering classes to their clients.
Many technology companies followed suit, as we knew they would. Some went deeper, producing suites of software that provided VOD solutions in addition to live stream.
However, I saw the needs of studio owners differently. Rather than VOD, I felt studios needed technology that would make them even more competitive in the live stream digital space. They needed something that could offer:
- More clients to replace ones they had lost
- Greater retention to keep clients who were still there, but on the fence
- Low cost to support studios strapped for money
- Low maintenance because owners were dealing with homeschooling kids, instructor attrition, layoffs, reluctant landlords, and more. They just needed something that would work.
Perhaps even more importantly, studios needed a way to replace the social connection and energy that was key to their cultures and communities.
To combat all of this, the FitGrid team focused its resources on completing the community engagement system we had already been building. And I am happy and proud to announce that it is here.
Earlier this month FitGrid officially launched the FitGrid Class App as part of a partnership with Athleta. This app is built to connect clients to their classmates, instructors, and you, their studio. It rounds out our community engagement software and has some unique features itself:
- Automatic referral mechanisms so clients get prompted to bring friends and family on an ongoing basis
- Notifications when friends sign up for class
- Chat messaging among members so they create a tighter community
- Workout tracking so that clients can know where they stand against their goals
- Insights and information about clients needs and wants for studios
- Reservations of classes through the app
All of these features tie seamlessly into the other community engagement features we created to drive retention and personalization in a time of social distancing.
- In the instructor app, instructors can now message anyone from class—and you as the studio owner/manager get a record of that.
- Instructors can view summaries of who’s coming to class (e.g. 70 percent have lower back pain) so they can adjust and customize their classes.
- Instructors can message individuals who have different fitness goals (or other information we gather) with precise information on what they are hoping to achieve.
- Of course, we still have our Client Outreach feature, that prompts staff to reach out to clients on specific days, with personal messages, that can drive connection.
- FitGrid provides the client insights and even suggests the messages staff can write.
Together, all of these pieces form the industry’s first community engagement and management platform, and we are delighted to offer it to the industry at this time of incredible need. Much like our first livestream solution, it is just the beginning. It solves a set of problems that studios have been complaining about for a long time and, we hope, a set of problems that are particularly pertinent now.
I invite you to check it out. We currently integrate with studios using Mindbody. And to all of our studio friends and partners, and to the boutique industry as a whole, just as we promised when the crisis first hit, we are here for you and look forward to partnering together to get us to a much brighter, much better future.
Nt, Founder, FitGrid
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nt Etuk is the Founder & CEO of FitGrid and Co-Founder of BFS. The team at FitGrid has been working around the clock to create a simple, more automated live-stream solution FitGrid LIVE – that automatically connects Zoom and MINDBODY, for group fitness studios, in response to the crisis hitting the industry.
FitGrid is a community management system designed for boutique fitness studios to engage clients on a personal level