Building a thriving online training community is a fantastic means of spreading awareness of your business. It fosters a strong sense of loyalty, which can drive noticeable results in your business client retention and growth via recommendations.

Building strong communities takes dedication, time, and effort. However, if you don’t work strategically, you can spend a lot of time down rabbit holes instead of actually building your business.

In this guide, I’ll share nine great ideas I’ve used to build an online community. These strategies should help you create and grow a strong following and community and, most importantly, a sense of loyalty from your existing audience. This loyalty typically results in community growth, recommendations, and a significantly higher client retention rate. So, grab your favorite smoothie, sit back, and learn how you can grow your community and business following.

The Role of Technology in Modern Fitness Training

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The world has changed significantly over the last decade, and now is the time to take advantage. One thing the pandemic did for us, both personal and athletic trainers, was push everyone online. It’s easier than ever to get clients who want online-exclusive training and prefer their surroundings more than going to a physical gym.

What does this transition to online mean for your business? It means that you are no longer constrained to finding clients locally. Now, you can train clients from anywhere in the world. That’s why some online savviness is perfect for our business growth. Let’s dive into how you can use online technologies to grow your fitness community better and, therefore, your business.

Building Your Online Training Community: 9 Strategies for Success

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  1. Create Exclusive Content
  2. Facilitate Peer-to-Peer Engagement
  3. Host Regular Virtual Meetups
  4. Implement a Buddy System
  5. Celebrate Member Milestones
  6. Create Interest-Based Subgroups
  7. Encourage User-Generated Content
  8. Offer Real-Time Support
  9. Implement Gamification Techniques

Create Exclusive Content

“You can never go wrong by investing in communities and the human beings within them.” – Pam Moore (1)

Growing your online fitness training community will require attracting people. One of the best ways to do this is to create exclusive and helpful content. Whether the content is inspirational, educational, or has a different intent, the reader/viewer needs to either enjoy watching or learn something. 

Ideally, you want to create content that effectively succeeds at both entertaining and educational. However, the point is to have an original voice, whether it’s via text, video, or other form, you need to stand out with exclusive content that is only available within your community.

Facilitate Peer-to-Peer Engagement

“Communities are important because they promote engagement” – Digital Marketing Institute (2)

The whole concept of community is to connect people with other like-minded people. When you build your community, it’s a wise idea to promote communication between people within the community. It can develop friendships and simultaneously help you with customer service. How? Because when you have a thriving community, members of the community who are comfortable and enjoy peer-to-peer communication will help each other and answer questions other members have. It indirectly and sometimes directly helps free up your time from having to answer every question that comes into the community.

Host Regular Virtual Meetups

“ A Meetup can keep you connected to your colleagues and your customers.” GoDaddy (3)

Virtual meetups are a great way to have your community stay connected. It reminds people of the human connection. Furthermore, it helps to build community by putting faces to people who were otherwise only known from their comments in your community. Speaking face-to-face (even if it’s digital) helps build authority as well, especially if you’re giving a talk on some specific aspect of training.

Implement a Buddy System

“Helping your friends grow and succeed is far more rewarding than chasing after the next gold star for yourself” Daniel Higginbotham (4)

One neat trick I learned about is the buddy system. This system works really well when implemented right. For example, let’s say you have some long-term clients who are more fitness-minded and experienced than new clients who may not otherwise feel as comfortable being new to your community. Try using a buddy system and asking your more experienced members to take a new member ‘under their care.’ 

Setting up pairs of experienced/non-experienced (with their permission) to chat and have the more experienced member mentor the new member. When implemented well, this system can help in two ways: first, the more experienced members may feel a sense of purpose, especially if you offer some type of reward for being helpful (in-community badges are great for this purpose). Furthermore, a buddy system helps new members to feel more welcome and less inhibited to participate.

Celebrate Member Milestones

Celebrating member milestones is great for helping your members feel noticed, which is a great thing in the age of social media, where people can feel drowned out by digital noise. Making a person feel good by celebrating their milestones also makes them more likely to stay in the community as it gives them a positive experience and a sense of family.

Create Interest-Based Subgroups

Building a community can get confusing to new members if there’s too much chaos in terms of topics. I recommend that, in this case, you try to develop some sub-community areas, like specific topic sections or interest-based sub-groups. Using the Elite Trainr application’s built-in forum features is excellent for creating interest-based groups within your client audience. However, if you build your audience on social media, you’ll have plenty of options to develop specific interest-based groups, pages, and segments, depending on which social platform you choose.

Encourage User-Generated Content

One of the beautiful benefits of online communities is that an active community will help grow the content (and thus, organic reach) faster than you could ever do on your own. You could think of it this way: Once a community reaches a critical mass, the user-generated content will help it grow on its own without your help. 

However, it doesn’t mean ignoring your moderation responsibilities as a community manager. Many busy fitness trainers will hire moderators when their community is at a critical mass, and it becomes beyond their scope to manage.

Offer Real-Time Support

I mentioned moderators, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay online at all times. I’ve found that offering real-time support during specific times is a great way to help your community members get answers. Furthermore, it encourages members to come online during the days/hours you choose to offer real-time support, which can also help encourage engagement.

Implement Gamification Techniques

Introduce gamification into the community to increase engagement and motivation. It can include implementing point systems, leaderboards, or badges for completing certain activities or challenges within the community. Gamification can create a fun and competitive environment, encouraging members to interact more frequently and intensely with the content and each other. This approach not only maintains the online-centric model but also harnesses the power of playful competition to foster a more vibrant and interactive community.

Managing Growth: Advancing Business with Technology Like Elite Trainr

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Whether or not you have your online community started, it’s wise to consider your plans for future growth. Looking ahead and setting goals and milestones for yourself is fantastic. Still, it’s also wise to consider how you will manage your client base growth. That’s where a professional platform like Elite Trainr comes into play.

Key Features of Elite Trainr That Enhance Training Efficiency

Elite Trainr is a complete solution for managing online fitness clients. It has everything you need to build a community, invite clients, manage training, track nutrition and fitness, and more. It’s the perfect tool to grow with you as you create your online community.

Enhancing Professionalism with White-Label Branding

One of the features of Elite Trainr that works to build your professionalism and client trust is the white-label feature of Elite Trainr. Picture this: you upload your training business logo to the Elite Trainr platform and then invite your clients to the app. What they see is a professional fitness management platform with your logo, making you look like a pro with your very own custom application for your clients.

Increasing Revenue with Integrated Business Tools

Elite Trainr has features to make growing your business easy. First, there’s the 3,000+ animated GIFs that make building digital workouts easy. Second, there’s the custom private forum that you have complete control over, where you can invite clients and build a private base for your paying clients’ community.

Elite Trainr also comes with robust meal planning and nutrition tracking features that make it easy to help your clients live their healthiest lives.

Lastly, the invoicing and in-app payment features allow you to collect payments right inside your branded Elite Trainr platform, making it easier than ever to manage and scale your fitness training business. 

Multi-Team Management Features: Scalability You Can Use

I mentioned how being prepared for your planned growth is a wise move and something to consider before you pour your heart and soul into building your online community. That’s where Elite Trainr really saves the day. How? By enabling you to hire trainers, add them to your Elite Trainr platform, and will allow them to have client groups connected to their trainer accounts. Repeat this as many times as you like for a scalable growth solution that can help you manage an ever-growing fitness company.

Empowering Your Fitness Journey with Community and Technology

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In building a thriving online training community, the integration of effective community-building strategies and advanced technological tools like Elite Trainr can transform how you engage with and retain clients. By fostering a vibrant, interactive online space, you provide invaluable support and motivation to your members, which in turn drives your business’s growth and success. 

Embrace these strategies to not only enhance your training services but also to ensure your business thrives in the digital age. Remember, the strength of your community reflects the strength of your business—invest in one, and you uplift the other.

I encourage you to see technology not just as a tool but as a partner in crafting a more engaging, effective, and expansive training experience. As we move forward, let’s leverage these digital solutions to not only meet the current demands of the fitness industry but also set new standards of excellence and community in fitness training.

Article Sources:

  1. Patel, Neil. 2013. “50 Inspiring Quotes from 50 Top Social Media Power Influencers.” Neil Patel. July 26, 2013.
  2. “The Value of Building a Social Media Community – Digital Marketing Lesson – DMI.” 2024. Digital Marketing Institute. 2024.
  3. GoDaddy. 2020. “The Benefits of Hosting Virtual Meetings and Meetups.” YouTube Video. YouTube.
  4. “LinkedIn.” 2024. 2024.