Involved Members are Happy Members

Members at CrossFit Chicago pose for a photo.

Members are the lifeblood of your business, so retaining them is key.

CrossFit Chicago sees one of the best ways to retain members is to get them involved. However, the Box’s strategy to do this has changed with its growth.

“When we were a lot smaller, it was a lot easier because we were a tight knit community and everybody hung out together,” said Kate Mikelsons, director of marketing at the Box. “Now that we’ve grown, I think like in the last three years it’s starting to get a little cliquey-er because we have more members.”

However, the cliques have not stopped CrossFit Chicago from attempting to get its members involved. Instead, Mikelsons communicates with the clique leaders in order to reach more people, interacting with them to get those they hang out with to come to various events.

But, that’s not Mikelsons only way to get news out about events. First a blog goes up about the event and it’s added to the website’s events section. Then, Mikelsons will announce the upcoming events in the Box’s monthly newsletter. Finally, about a week before, the Coaches are instructed to hit talking points in their classes — usually during the warm-up or mobility portion — reminding people about the event and talking to members about attending it.

Following up and communicating with the members is perhaps the biggest thing that leads to more involvement. Mikelsons said they will ask various cliques who is and isn’t coming. “If they’re not going to make it, [we ask] why can’t they and what can we do next time to make sure that it’s something they want to attend?” she explained.

Since participation determines a large part of the event’s success, it’s key to make sure people know about the event. So, Mikelsons said repetition is key and is done by flooding social media and talking about an event, even perhaps to the point that people are annoyed. “You have to talk about it all the time,” she said. “Just because it seems to you that everybody knows about it, there’s always going to be people that are like what’s going on?”

Finally, member involvement can be largely determined by planning. After every event, Mikelsons and her team will sit down to discuss what worked, what didn’t and where they can improve next time. For example, CrossFit Chicago had a Barbells for Boobs event in 2012 and then one in 2014. Mikelsons said the registration process had been a “huge hiccup” in 2012, so they spent a lot of time smoothing it out for this year’s event.

By not only having events run smoothly and making them enjoyable for the members, but by also putting on a wide variety of events, Mikelsons said they hope to get every member involved and feeling part of the Box. “If you can make it more than just a gym, if it’s your family and it’s where you go to meet your friends and have fun, then people are more apt to stay,” she said.

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at