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Increase Attendance at Your Gym’s Online Classes

Get more people to attend your gym's online classes and explore unique ways to engage your existing members from a distance.

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As the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to increase, more healthy individuals are at home in self-quarantine. This poses a significant challenge for those who want to stay active.

While some of us are happy to have a valid excuse to finally skip the gym, the WHO recommends people undertake 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week. 

Several gyms, yoga studios, and CrossFit boxes around the country now offer online classes that are either on-demand or live. 

While fitness entrepreneurs have already spent some time putting together the perfect class, choosing the best exercises, selecting the right playlist, and rehearsing it, even seasoned vets are still figuring out how to make the shift to online classes.

There is one key factor in the success of both your gym’s online and physical classes: attendance. Attendance is especially crucial if you charge on a per-class basis and rely on the revenue.

Bring Members Into Your Gym’s Online Classes with SMS

In this article, we focus on four ways you can use text message marketing to drive participation. Yes, SimpleTexting is a text marketing service. Our love of texting aside, the best way to communicate with people in a time of upheaval is through the channel with 98% open rates and 30% click-through rates (CTRs).

Plus, people now receive COVID-19 emails from dentists, shoe brands, and that project management software they tried three years ago. It’s easy for your gym’s online class offering to disappear among the noise.

Compared to email, SMS engagement is six to eight times more than what businesses usually achieve with email marketing. We can hazard a guess that this is much higher during the COVID-19 crisis.

Here are several easy ways to use SMS to fill up your online classes and grow an even broader online group of loyal fitness fans. 

How to Start Promoting Your Gym’s Online Classes with SMS

If you already use SMS, then you can skip this part. If not, here is what it takes to start texting your customers today. (Spoiler alert: it’s easy.) 

1. Create a SimpleTexting Account

Start your 14-day free trial and send texts, import contacts, and explore the platform. Plus, we’re here seven days a week to answer any questions you may have about what’s possible with SimpleTexting.

By default, every SimpleTexting account comes with a 10-digit local number capable of sending texts to large groups at once after upgrading. (If you use a local number after upgrading, just be sure to have it registered.)

2. Use Keywords to Subscribe Your Members

Many local governments now offer COVID-19-related text alerts. To sign up, all people need to do is text in a word. The same idea applies to texts aimed at increasing attendance at your gym’s online classes. 

Thanks for your interest in our online WODs. We’ll send you WOD and a link to our live online class every day. Invite a friend and get 5% off an annual membership.

3. Promote Your Keyword

Now it’s time to let your members know that they can sign up for text alerts. There are many ways to do this, but here are five tried-and-true strategies organizations use to build their lists. 

1. Send an email to your customers or staff with your keyword

2. Post on social media 

3. Add it to a sticky bar on your website’s header 

5. Include your keyword and number in your email signature 

6. Mention your keyword on your phone’s answering message 

4. Send Your First SMS Campaign

This 90-second video explains how easy it is to send your first SMS campaign.

Use These SMS Templates to Increase Online Class Attendance

Whether you’re just starting out with online classes or recently started running them due to the coronavirus, these approaches and templates can help you boost attendance.

1. Let People Know You Offer Online Classes

One of the first texts you should send is a simple message letting your members know that you are offering online classes. Here’s an example:

Hi Sarah, thanks for being part of the Glow Tribe. We hope you are okay during this crazy time! If you’re looking for ways to stay active, we are offering live online classes. Follow this link to find out more:

2. Use SMS to Incentivize Turn-out

Even though COVID-19 has changed people’s daily routines, there are still certain constants in our lives. When people exercise, they are motivated by incentives, even if it’s just beating their personal record.

You should consider sending out weekly challenges and providing prizes for whoever wins. Bonus points if those prizes include a charitable donation.

We’re throwing down the gauntlet. Get the highest weekly calorie burn and we’ll donate 25% of your next month’s gym fees to America’s First Responders Foundation. Are you in?

3. Ask for Attendees’ Feedback 

While you may be a master of in-person classes, online classes are a different world. The first step to increasing online class attendance may center on improving the classes and learning what you are–and aren’t–doing well.

Feedback could focus on scheduling, or leaving out exercises that are too technical without someone around to correct their form. 

Chances are if you see a pattern and can fix it, more people will attend your online classes.

Hey Glow Tribe, we’d love to understand how you’re finding the online classes? If you have feedback, we’d love to hear it. Just reply to this text.

4. Offer Free Two-way Fitness Advice

Given that we are living through an unprecedented time, people are likely to have questions. Maybe a member at your gym is training for an Olympic lifting competition and worries that all their progress is lost.

You could offer a texting hotline where people can text you with questions, bounce ideas off of you, or seek support for meeting their fitness goals.

You can use this opportunity to shape your online classes and promote existing ones.

Hey! I’m afraid my knees can’t take the pounding from running but I want to stay active. Do you have any tips?
I have a bodyweight class that would be great for you! Ideal for all levels. You can sign up here:

Other Ways To Engage Your Members While Socially Distant

Throughout March we’ve seen several gyms use text messaging to invite members to join online classes with great success.

We’ve also seen fitness entrepreneurs utilize SMS as a way to share resources with their members in an effort to help them stay active and healthy. There are many other creative ways you can engage your members while keeping your distance.

  • Text out daily or weekly nutrition tips
  • Receive daily fitness challenges
  • Encourage people to ask fitness-related questions

With the ever-changing landscape of the coronavirus pandemic, gyms and fitness entrepreneurs have adapted by offering online classes. Thanks to your agility, we can all still get our sweat on while following rules around social distancing. 

We hope the ideas above help spark some fresh approaches to increasing attendance at your gym’s online classes. And most of all, stay healthy and safe.

Drew Wilkinson
Drew Wilkinson

Drew Wilkinson is the Head of Marketing at SimpleTexting. Drew has more than a decade of experience managing successful integrated marketing programs to build brands, raise awareness, and generate demand.

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