Seven Steps to Run an Effective Fitness Studio Challenge to Increase Engagement and Revenue

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Seven Steps to Run an Effective Fitness Studio Challenge to Increase Engagement and Revenue

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It's warming up, which means summer is coming. This can also be a source of anxiety for fitness studio owners, who typically experience a slowdown during the summer months. If your studio sees attendance or revenue drop between Memorial Day and Labor Day, challenges may be helpful to keep classes full and energy high.

Fitness studio challenges are an effective way to engage members, attract new clients, foster community, and encourage attendance. If you charge an accountability pay-to-play fee and offer a special challenge pass, it can also contribute to a revenue boost. When designed and executed effectively, these challenges can foster motivation and increase retention. Here's how you can run fitness studio challenges that keep your clients excited and coming back for more.

1. Define Your Challenge Goals

If you've been reading our blogs for a while, you likely know we always start with the goal. Running a challenge (or any programming) for the sake of checking a box isn't helping you reach your long-term goals. Before launching your challenge, start by clarifying what you're aiming to achieve. Are you looking to:

  • Increase member engagement?
  • Attract new clients?
  • Boost revenue?
  • Promote a specific class or program?

Defining your goals will help you tailor the challenge to meet your studio's specific needs and measure its success in the end.

2. Choose the Right Type of Challenge

I've been in this industry for more than a decade, and I just learned about a new type of challenge yesterday. There are so many options, but taking the time to select the kind of challenge that meets your objective for running a challenge in the first place is crucial for ensuring participation and achieving your goals. Here are some popular types of fitness challenges:

Class Attendance Challenge

Grow class participation by challenging members to attend a certain number of classes within a set period. It could be something like:

  • 15-20 classes in 30 days
  • X# of classes in 60 days
  • Memorial Day to Labor Day challenge (which is 99 days)
  • A choose-your-own-adventure challenge where clients pre-select the number of classes they'll try to attend during a set period (I love these).

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Bingo Challenge

These are a tried-and-true fitness studio challenge because you can incentivize clients to do what your studio needs the most. Short on Google review? Add a review square. Are leads slow lately? Reward clients who bring a friend with a bingo spot. You can offer prizes for everyone who gets a bingo row and also a grand prize raffle for everyone who gets a bingo blackout and earns every square. 

Weight Loss Challenge or Nutrition Challenge

This only works for studios that have a clear culture of fat loss, decreasing inches, or measuring body composition, so it won't be right for every studio. If this fits your culture, you could bring in a body scan at the beginning and the end and add prizes for clients who either lose the most or reach their specific goal. 

Strength Training or Targeted Growth Challenge

This one also depends on your studio's culture. If your clients want to focus on building measurable strength through weightlifting or bodyweight exercises, an achievement challenge could be motivating during the summer months. You can choose whether to set the goal for the studio (like a timed plank) or if it takes more of a choose-your-own direction, where clients work towards a personal goal, like a set number of pushups. Track progress with strength assessments and reward milestones.

Endurance Challenge

Encourage clients to improve their cardiovascular fitness with running, cycling, or rowing challenges. Set distance or time goals and offer incentives for hitting them. I recently saw a format where the studio had posted paper clouds along the studio walls, and each client had a little paper airplane clothespin. Clients got to move their airplanes when they had achieved the number of miles. The sky's the limit to challenge creativity. 

Team Challenges

This is one of my studio's favorites. Organizing team-based challenges promotes camaraderie and friendly competition as a group. Teams earn points for attending classes, completing workouts, or achieving pre-selcted milestones.

3. Set Clear Rules and Guidelines

To ensure clarity, establish clear rules and guidelines for your challenge ahead of time. Outline the following:

  • Duration: How long will the challenge last?
  • Cost: What is the challenge fee? Can clients use their passes, or do they need to purchase a new one?
  • Participation Requirements: Who can join, and what do they need to do?
  • Tracking and Reporting: How will progress be tracked and reported?
  • Prizes and Incentives: What rewards will participants receive for achieving goals or winning the challenge?

4. Promote Your Challenge

If this is your first challenge, it's going to take time and effort to get your clients excited and willing to play. Give yourself at least a month if you're marketing to current clients and at least six weeks if you're marketing to a cold audience. Use all of your channels to spread the word:

Social Media: Create engaging posts, stories, and videos to generate excitement. If you have them, showcase last year's challenge participants and include social proof from clients who played previously and loved it. 

- Email Marketing: Send out detailed emails explaining the challenge and how to join. Ideally, these emails should be sent weekly for an entire month. One newsletter isn't a campaign. Remember, it takes an average of seven attempts before a client takes action.

- In-Studio Signage: Use posters and flyers to catch the attention of current members. Hang the challenge boards up early to generate buzz.

- Word of Mouth: Encourage staff and existing members to promote the challenge to friends and family.

5. Provide Support and Motivation

Offer regular support and encouragement to keep participants motivated throughout the challenge. Without your attention, clients will likely revert back to their usual behavior, so make sure you show support through check-ins, motivational content, and incentives to keep clients going strong.

6. Track Progress and Celebrate Success

Track participants' progress regularly to keep them accountable and motivated. I have always used a poster with stickers, but if your studio has the technology, you can use apps or fitness trackers to monitor achievements. Celebrate successes along the way with shout-outs on social media, recognition in classes, or small rewards.

7. Conclude with a Celebration

End the challenge with a celebration event to acknowledge participants' hard work and achievements. Host a party, award ceremony, or group workout to bring everyone together and reinforce the sense of community. Hand out prizes, take a ton of photos, and remember to gather testimonials for next year. Have fun!

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About the author:

Niki Riga
Industry Expert
Limitless Studio

Niki has been a client, a studio owner, and a coach in boutique fitness for over a decade, and she can’t think of an industry she'd rather be in. Her favorite part about coaching and studio ownership are the same: she loves supporting clients as they push past their limits and achieve their goals. Niki became a coach because she was regularly asked, “how did you do that!?” by other studio owners who were drowning in the day-to-day responsibilities of business ownership but didn’t have the support to grow their studio to its potential. She created Limitless Studio to partner with owners who have a vision for their business and are ready to implement systems to build the studio of their dreams.