What do Gymshark, Lululemon, SoulCycle, Peloton, and the likes all have in common? Community. When we talk about community, we think of social unity, a sense of belonging, and a safe place to be yourself - almost as if we were talking about religion with commonly shared values. In today’s article I wish to highlight four prominent fitness brands that have leveraged community to their advantage;
Many fitness influencers you see on Instagram today relate themselves to this Megaladon of a retail company. With that striking white Gymshark logo and bright-colored workout pieces, it's hard to miss. Gymshark made it a point from the very beginning to put their community first - and still do! Gymshark would hold large events in popular cities with their athletes, staff, and loyalists to create that in-person connection and essentially humanize the brand. Even after the events, everyone would lift together - now that made a strong community. In addition, Gymshark brilliantly leveraged influencer marketing to further thrust their brand out there to their exact target market. Gymshark partnered up with fitness influencers who already had a strong community within their profile, and all Gymshark had to say to those individual communities was, "Hey! We've got the clothes to look and feel your best when working out - just like your fitness influencer!". And of course, why wouldn't you trust your community?
And since then, Gymshark has maintained its large community well through several channels, from different social media platforms to active blogs to keep its community engaged and strong during the pandemic. They always put their community first, they have two-way communication between their community and always translate that into the products and events they put out to the community.
Although similar to Gymshark, Lululemon did not need aggressive influencer marketing to create the community it caters to today. Rather than focusing on their products, they concentrate on sending a message about the lifestyle that Lululemon wants you to have - that zen and peaceful flow through life and fitness. They wanted their stores to be a place where they could educate and share the benefits of healthy living, mindfulness, and the possibilities of life. My past trips to Lululemon stores showed that they always made sure to ask what fitness activities I was planning to use their clothes for and what fitness goals I had set out to accomplish. Lululemon also incorporates in-person fitness activities into their retail stores - yoga sessions with customers and joining local fitness events. They made it a point to create that physical and spiritual connection with their customers and create a sense of community.
Peloton has been on top of their game. People spend a few thousand dollars for a Peloton bike, and that doesn't come cheap when you throw in the $39 per month subscription to access their classes and content. It may seem costly for an exercise bike but, this hasn't stopped people from buying it. The idea of feeling connected to the Peloton community, its competition aspect, and its convenience is what makes it so successful today. The touchscreen provides a shared social board of information that brings riders together from all over the world. It allows people to rise in the leaderboard in real-time and unlock the competitive spirit that keeps them focused on the ride, which pushes them further to become more immersed in the class. Such user engagement and user experience are hard to find in the realm of the digital space. But with Peloton? They are breaking that fourth wall in people's homes and creating a solid community digitally.
SoulCycle may be in the fitness industry, but its brand is much more than that. It's a business built around connection, empowerment, and the people. It's about a unique connection and bond that forms between the instructor and every person "tapping it back" on the spin bikes. It's ultimately about how they make you feel during the 45 minutes of intense pedaling & sweating. Each SoulCycle studio would introduce its members to each other, which sparked friendships and a loyal network within their customer base. So whatever SoulCycle you are in, you have that intimate community that will welcome you with open arms. Each class or region has its dedicated instructor that are gurus in their respective fields. You have all these little tribes within a big tribe, but those tribes keep the community, personal, and connected. Keeping many of those little tribes happy can add up to a popular, profitable, and rapidly growing company with more than $100 million in revenue.
When we talk about community in a fitness setting, there is that 'we're in this together mentality. Especially when working out, people work best - or work out the hardest when they have a workout buddy to push them through a rep. The community holds you accountable to smash those weights, push your limits, and achieve beyond your fitness goals. In reality, having that strong sense of community does encourage a person not to be afraid because they will always have a tribe to count on.
The gym can be pretty intimidating for many people, especially when walking into a new gym for the first time. That is why a sense of community in studios and gyms will ensure that clients keep coming back. It isn't only about doing the exercises themselves, but it gives people a purpose for all the effort and time they've been exerting to reach their goal. It makes it more meaningful because it's not purely about the result, but the journey alone is already something they can be proud of. Fitness goals tend to be a solo thing, but one factor that helps people stay consistent in their fitness goals is finding a sense of community where they feel safe no matter the outcome and effort they put in.
Community drives success and is a competitive advantage for studios because, beyond their member's fitness goals, they provide a safe space to reach their goals without the fear of failing collectively. Further, giving them that sense of belongingness and their relationships will help give purpose and intensity to their members' workouts. As a result, the workouts yield better results, making members feel more accomplished, who can't wait to come back for their next session.
A key takeaway that you should remember is that a physical community will not give any fitness brand a competitive advantage. Combining virtual community with physical workouts is a key part of a winning formula nowadays. Putting in the time and effort to maintain an online community for your members will significantly enhance their experience. We cannot stress enough how important it is to keep your community close - no matter if physically or virtually. Then at the end of the day, your tribe will always be the one to show up.