How to Keep Members Engaged During the Holidays

members engaged

The holidays can be a difficult time for a gym, what with all of the holiday parties, family commitments and the budget crunch in purchasing gifts that our members are juggling. We wanted to find a way to keep members engaged and on track, and reward them for doing so. Our Solution: The Check In Challenge. Or as we call it, the #icehousechallenge.

How does it work?

It’s fairly simple: Members check into social media – we allow Facebook or Instagram – 30 times between November 1 and December 31. If they complete all of their check ins, they receive a free Check In Challenge shirt. That’s it. 

This is our fourth year doing this, so we have had to make a rules sheet to put some guidelines around it, and make our lives easier to track it. Here are a few of our rules:

  • Anyone who wants to participate must sign up at our front desk. We have a simple sheet asking for their name, shirt size, Instagram handle or Facebook, and their social media name if it differs from their name.
  • The athlete must come to a class or event at Icehouse to be able to check in.
  • The hashtags #icehousechallenge and #1of30, #2of30, #3of30, etc. must be used to track progress and be easy to find.
  • Only one check in per day. We had some folks trying to do two to three a day to get them all done early.
  • Check-ins must be done on their personal Facebook timeline or Instagram. A huge benefit to this is a lot of free engagement on social media, so posting in a closed Facebook members only group doesn’t help.
  • Any added hashtags will be considered in the design of the shirt. Members always have a blast with this, but include a disclaimer that you can veto any inappropriate ones if you feel the need; we had to in Year Two.

Once the New Year rolls around, our admin checks through the list to make sure everyone has posted their 30, then places an order for their shirt. We submit the most popular hashtag(s) and have some fun with the shirt design.

An image posted on social media that was part of a past Check In Challenge.

Why do a check in challenge?

1.     Improved Attendance: We have found this to be a great – and super cheap – way to keep attendance and engagement high during a traditionally slow time of the year.  

2.     Member Engagement: Members get super creative with their posts, so they all try to make funnier videos/photos/etc. and then they also engage with each other on social media as well as more in the gym. They also tend to find some hashtags they love and petition around the gym to get others to join them to get shirts they like. It makes for some very entertaining conversations around the gym.

3.     Free Advertising: Participants are sharing 30 times during the challenge on their personal pages and checking in to the gym. We also get higher engagement, messages and interest during a challenge because our name is all over people’s pages. And the light heartedness of a lot of the posts takes away much of the intimidation factor CrossFit can have when they see lots of adults having a blast consistently over those 60 days. To use this more than justifies the cost to print a $10 shirt for each of the participants. We often sell enough memberships on referrals alone to cover that bill.

4.     Consistency: There is a reason so many people feel the need to set a New Year’s Resolution. Even if they are doing well going into November, the holidays throw a wrench in so many people’s routines. Couple that with all of the cookies, sweets and tasty but not so healthy meals that come with the holidays, it can lead to a full faceplant off the wagon. Having something, even just a free T-shirt, to keep them coming in is huge. Then they kick off their new year having made progress over the holidays instead of starting over.  

Even just a one-month Challenge of some sort can be huge to keep people on track, especially during a time when peer pressure to just have that glass of eggnog, eat that homemade cookie and/or skip a workout for a holiday party gives them something to work toward.  

And, it’s a reason to share their experience with their friends. Because if you didn’t post your workout to Facebook, did it even happen?

Born and raised in York, Pennsylvania, Courtney Shoemaker then slowly migrated over the years to Fargo, North Dakota. She spent most of her adult life working in corporate America, and finally took the leap to leave for a new career in CrossFit. Outside of the gym she also spends time skydiving or doing yoga. CrossFit Icehouse was established in 2015 in Fargo, North Dakota, with the goal of “Building Everyday Athletes.” CrossFit Icehouse is a “You First” fitness environment. It builds relationships and create healthy habits through fitness to allow you to become the best version of yourself. Reach her at