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A Personalized Approach to Onboarding


There is no denying that CrossFit has proved it is not just a trend or fad, but a rapidly growing segment of the fitness market. And while the CrossFit boxes of the world might be providing a little competition, there is something we can learn from them, and that is the fact that they are simple.

CrossFit boxes do not have a wide variety of programming options; instead the core of CrossFit is community. When joining a box, members are not overwhelmed with a ton of equipment, training packages or classes to choose from. With a large, traditional gym facility, it can be easy to be flashy, but you do not want your members to feel overwhelmed.

Allison Flatley, the chief strategy office at Corporate Fitness Works, explained the member onboarding process is not just providing the long list of wellness and fitness services available. “We believe that giving a new member a long menu of options can be overwhelming,” said Flatley. “If we don’t take the time to get to know their goals and challenges and walk them through a short list of customized solutions that will appeal to their needs, we miss out on a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate our credibility.”

Corporate Fitness Works has developed a Member Experience Program with the goal of fostering a sense of community within the clubs they manage. “The Member Experience Program is designed specifically to help members become engaged with not just our staff, but also existing members through a variety of ‘touch points’ within their first 60 days,” explained Flatley. “The key is to personalize the onboarding experience to the member’s goals and objectives and to create relationships so new members feel comfortable in the club.”

Maybe it is time to re-evaluate your member onboarding process. Flatley explained there are two common mistakes she usually sees clubs making:

  • Overwhelming members with too many services options. “The new member can easily become overwhelmed and struggle with what to do if a sense of connection is not established early on in the relationship,” added Flatley. “The focus should be centered on getting them involved and connected, becoming comfortable in the environment and celebrating each small success along the way.”
  • Having too short of an onboarding process. “Onboarding should continue until the new member is ‘active’ at a level they define as ‘active.’ Clubs tend to put every new member through the same on-boarding process, regardless of their fitness level or demographics. Onboarding should be customized to the individual’s needs and desires.”

In order to develop a strong relationship with new members and make them feel comfortable in the club, Flatley suggested asking questions like, what are your goals, challenges and expectations, and then create a customized plan.

“It also helps to incorporate a formalized system that provides multiple opportunities for members to become engaged with staff and other members, but allows for personalization and customization within the system,” said Flatley. “For example, certain members with extensive fitness experience may not be interested in an exercise orientation, so don’t make them go through one. Instead, provide them with options that are tailored to their experience level.”

Emily Harbourne

Emily Harbourne is the assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine.

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1 Comment

  1. Nicole Johnson May 19, 2016

    Allison will share her expertise on how to empower your staff to create engaged teams at this years IHRSA Institute, August 2-5, 2016 at UNC Chapel Hill. I am looking forward to her class on Staff Hiring, Training & Retention.


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