Community: The Key to Affiliate Success

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For many athletes, their Affiliate gym becomes the “third place” between home and work. As a Box owner, building this level of commitment from athletes requires consistency, intentionality and a deep understanding of your athletes. Commitments to the community and a culture of athlete-to-athlete support are essential for sustainable growth. In the Affiliate gym industry, there are a few main areas where a strong community drives tangible business success.   

Community Promotes Athlete Acquisition 

When it comes to attracting and acquiring new athletes, a strong community is a gym’s secret weapon. Simply put, athletes who feel an emotional connection to their Box are good for business. When an Affiliate gym invests into their community, members are more likely to talk about the gym to their friends and family. From posting on social media to referring their friends to the gym, a strong community can help an Affiliate gym reach more prospective athletes. Beyond the overall increase in exposure, community referrals generally become the best members because they understand the culture and have clear expectations from the start.

Pro Tip: Promote a standing referral incentive, like branded swag or a discount, for current athletes to refer their friends and family. Research shows 90% of people believe brand recommendations from friends. 

Community Fuels Athlete Retention

As most gym owners already know, retention is a crucial component of success. In fact, research shows it costs considerably more to win a new athlete than it does to keep a current one. A strong community fuels athlete retention and keeps everyone engaged. When an Affiliate gym builds a tight-knit community, it makes it hard for athletes to leave. These successful Affiliate gym communities not only deliver physical results, they foster healthy relationships and even lifelong friendships. Affiliate gym communities become more like families, and families are much harder to leave than gym memberships. 

Pro Tip: Use a workout tracking app to encourage athletes to connect with their community in the gym and on-the-go. According to the Annual Affiliate Gym Benchmark Report, 42% of the most profitable gyms use WOD tracking software. 

Community Enables Profit

True profits are notoriously tough to achieve in the Affiliate gym industry. Box owners and operators only have so much time in a day and developing multiple revenue streams can be difficult. This is where building community comes into play. Athlete acquisition and retention, as mentioned before, obviously enable profit to a certain degree. Beyond those pillars of Affiliate success, community can also strengthen supplemental revenue streams. For example, Affiliate gyms can host and charge for educational seminars. Additionally, athletes who have an emotional connection to their Box are more likely to purchase branded retail items and even nutritional products at the Box. 

Pro Tip: Track membership milestones with Affiliate gym management software and give athletes a free retail item, like a T-shirt or decal, every time they hit an anniversary at the Box. 

By Kinnick McDonald, the senior director of marketing for Zen Planner. She can be reached at or visit to learn more about Zen Planner and SugarWOD joining forces