CrossFit is known to have one of the best experiences in the world, for all of fitness.
There’s a reason that it caught on so quickly and didn’t die-out as some fitness trend—it works, and it creates a response that you don’t get from other types of exercise.
The member experience CrossFit wants people to have is outlined in their CrossFit Affiliate Handbook, showcasing exactly what you should be doing to create a positive, welcoming experience for your members.
We’re going to break it down right now.
What is Member Experience?
The way that your gym members feel about your establishment, your brand, your workers, and the overall atmosphere of being in your gym.
This heavily relies on first impressions, and can be impacted by the vibes they get from staff, the light in the room, how updated/modern your gym is, and so much more.
Every customer has their ideal experience. If the experience appears to fit their specifications, they convert into being a member. A positive member experience is how you get more memberships in your gym.
Why is Member Experience Important?
There are multiple reasons. First and foremost, we have to understand that people don’t typically spend money on a negative experience.
If your gym is either negative or nothing special, why would they spend their money there? CrossFit gyms have much higher monthly and annual costs than traditional gyms. What’s stopping them from going to “any old gym” and using their equipment? Your member experience. That’s what’s stopping them.
The goal is to make it so enticing that they want to stay regardless of the cost. This is what you need to know about the importance of a member experience.
Positive First Impressions
Your members have to have a positive first impression of your gym. They say you can’t redo a first impression, and that’s absolutely correct. When a new prospective member enters your gym, you could either welcome a new member who pays upwards of $1,500 annually, or turn them off to your business forever. That’s where you stand. Even if they don’t decide to become a member, word of mouth is powerful, and a negative experience will drive them to tell others about it. The point is that first impressions are more important than we think they are at face value, and you can’t skimp out on them.
We know physical activity reduces stress, but what we don’t know is what outside stressors/factors are impacting prospective clients when they walk in the door. We don’t know what changes in their day-to-day lives once they become members. Your CrossFit affiliate gym needs to be a safe space that helps them reduce stress through both exercise and the atmosphere you create. It should never add to it and make the member experience worse.
One critical element to the member experience is to always be welcoming and to always have your arms wide open. Catch them before they catch you, greet them kindly, smile at them, and make sure they know they’re welcome in your gym. This seems like a simple concept, but you would be surprised at how many gyms simply don’t do this. It’s very powerful and motivating to not only attract clients, but to retain them once they’re a member of your gym.
How to Create Positive Member Experiences
The member experience is essentially what you’re selling to prospective clients. This is what you need to know to execute this idea as well as possible.
Begin With Safety
Safe environments are key among any positive member experience. It doesn’t bear down on you, but gyms have been known to have some pretty horrific stories specifically for female athletes. CrossFit is a dominantly female fitness niche, so you want to make sure your space is safe. Openly discuss how your staff is trained to keep people safe, how they are approachable, and how you can come to them with problems or for safety. Make sure you train your staff to make women feel welcome without being overbearing. Keep a nice bright fitness studio with as few dark spots as possible, and never leave it to just one attendant during peak hours. Aim for safety to set the precedent.
Follow Affiliate Insurance Requirements
These basically outline a safe and reasonable way to keep your members and staff protected, while also protecting CrossFit and your own gym’s brand. Prospective clients are much more likely to visit and sign up for memberships if they know that the facility has complete safety in mind with valuable insurance. They need to know that if something happens, we’ve got them. Put up signs or include highlighted mentions of insurance and safety protocols in new member contracts. Basically do anything in your power to inform your members that you’re insured and take their safety seriously, and it will help build a beautiful foundation for your business.
During sign-up time, athletes will give you information. This is usually when they sign a waiver regarding injuries, but it’s also when you should collect as much helpful personal information as possible to build their profile. Medical issues, allergies, and anything of note should be written down in their athlete profile. This is something you can manage with PushPress as your main management system. This profile can help in dire circumstances; be sure to train your front-end staff on how to build athlete profiles effectively and efficiently during new member signups. Some prospective members might be hesitant about providing this information, rightfully so. Be sure to include why you need this information in the first place, and that you will keep it confidential.
Your member should be greeted at the door. Front-end staff have to make sure that your members/clients feel as welcome as possible regardless of when they’re coming into your gym. This means being located near the front door as often as possible. If a front-end desk member has to leave their post to assist a current member, they should make it noted when they return that they apologize for the wait, welcome the member, and then proceed to assist them with a smile. Find out what your front-end workers need to make sure they can uphold this level of customer service all the time.
Ease of Access
Your member is in the door. That’s great. Now, they need to know where they’re going. Some gyms feel like a garage or a warehouse with a bunch of mismatched machines that are mushed together. You want safe distances between each machine, as well as clear space to avoid injuries or overlaps during exercise. Be sure to organize your weight rack area, post signs regarding safety, and establish a protocol for how machines are used and where items need to be put away.
Have you ever been to a class with a hardened instructor? The kind that makes it seem like you being late is a menace to them? At the end of the day, your members could be late or not show up to a class because—reality check—everything else in their lives is more important than attending a class. This gym membership is supposed to be about their flexibility and working on themselves when they can. Be sure that your coaches/instructors do not make members feel bad or question them about why they may be late, or why they didn’t attend a previous class. We don’t know what they’re going through; badgering them about it will guarantee a fast and sudden drop in their member experience.
Keep it Fun
Exercising, CrossFit, improving yourself: these are all things that are supposed to be fun and rewarding. If you’re too hard on your members and you run your gym like a boot camp, they’re not going to walk away with any sense of accomplishment or positive feelings. Their experience is what matters. If they aren’t getting the results that they want, most members can be honest with themselves about their attendance and aren’t seeking to blame the gym or instructors for their slowed goals. Make sure it’s fun and they’ll want to come back no matter what.
Celebrate Every Victory
Make sure your instructors know how to spot small victories. If a class member achieves a move that was difficult for them the previous week, admiration and appreciation is in order. Celebrate the small victories. A positive member experience means making them feel genuinely positive about the changes and improvements they’re making. There is no bigger motivation in all of fitness than another person noticing, recognizing, and appreciating your strides and improvements. Make sure your coaches know how to assess the individual so they don’t make a big scene in a 20-person class. It can be a quick one-on-one acknowledgement after the class is over if that’s what would make the client feel more comfortable.
Attitude Runs the Show
There’s an element of customer service in every aspect of running a CrossFit affiliate gym. From the front-end staff at 5:00 AM, to the coaches during their first classes early in the morning, you have to keep things positive and alive. Members can feel when there’s a stagnation in the air, and it can seriously impact their experience. This is a training-related thing you have to set straight right in the beginning, and may come up during a SWOT analysis of your gym.
In short, make the experience positive, fun, and engaging for the member. Give them a safe space where they can feel comfortable and where they never feel judged.
Celebrating small wins makes big changes, and those big changes lead to longer retention times and more success for your CrossFit affiliate gym.
Creating a Better Member Experience From Day One
It’s paramount that you make your member experience as enticing and enjoyable as possible.
Some people already attribute exercise and fitness as an upsetting or unwanted experience, especially in the United States—it’s up to you to change their minds, and give them an experience that only your gym can provide.
Creating a CrossFit affiliate gym is no simple task. We take deep dives on every aspect of the CrossFit Affiliate Handbook right here on PushPress, granting you detailed knowledge on how to run a profitable, productive, and efficient CrossFit affiliate gym.