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Build a Better Business: How to create community at your studio

Studio Rue community gathering

Thanks to our Community

This month we’re celebrating our mindful movement community with stories highlighting your accomplishments and experiences bringing fitness and joy to people around the world. Healthy communities are happy communities. Thank you!


Creating a culture of community where staff and clients share common goals, attitudes and interests is an effective way of building a feeling of fellowship and belonging at your studio. By providing clients with something more to look forward to when they come to exercise, you’ll keep them excited, engaged and loyal to your brand. And you’ll likely get some positive word-of-mouth referrals too.

Establishing community can be done in a number of ways. You can start small: Be more proactive in how you reach out to clients— try to engage them in conversation before and after class or invite them for coffee. Or try hosting pop-up educational and social sessions after class. That worked wonders for one studio owner in the U.S., as you’ll read below.

Here are a few suggestions on how to shape the culture at your studio.

A strong culture begins with your staff

1. Empower and involve your staff in decision-making and be open to their ideas and feedback

2. Create camaraderie through additional training, teambuilding activities and continued education

3. Communicate with your team regularly, so staff feel connected to the bigger picture

Once you’ve established a strong internal community, you can start looking at how to extend this to your clients and beyond.

Build community among your clients

1. Welcome client feedback in comment cards and through surveys before implementing big changes, and monitor social media for both positive and negative reviews

2. Provide added value with a personal touch. When you go above and beyond, even if it’s just a little thing, clients will remember it

3. Build and nurture relationships by hosting social or educational events. Connect with your clients at the studio and online, offer loyalty programs and referral discounts. Highlight stories about your community and celebrate their accomplishments

How Studio Rue became a social hub

Like most good things in life, Wine Down Fridays at Studio Rue in Webster Groves, Missouri, began organically. About four years ago, after STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor Kelly Ruesing’s studio’s grand re-opening, she acquired a case of wine from well-wishers and was at a loss as to what to do with so many bottles.

“One of my clients suggested we drink it right then and there. The rest of the class agreed. It took three months to finish the case of wine,” she says.

Kelly thought the event would come to a natural end, but then clients started bringing their own wine to share.

Kelly started calling these events Wine Down Fridays. Clients pay $35 each in advance to join the 45-minute medium- to high-intensity Pilates class and then each person gets to enjoy a glass of wine of their choice after class. Many clients bring snacks to share, and sometimes they bring wine as well. Attendance can be anywhere from six to 12 people.

“Wine Down Fridays were simply a call to action placed on me by my clients. Now everyone wants to get into this class and I have had many requests to start Wine Down Wednesdays,” she says. “We do things the old-fashioned way here, so our overhead is really low which allows us to offer the wine for free.”

Wine Down Fridays can also be purchased as a package deal for parties. “It’s a great way to kick off a girls’ weekend,” she says.

Kelly and her staff have worked hard to make Studio Rue feel welcoming, safe and accommodating.

“While we all know the physical benefits of Pilates, the emotional and spiritual benefits are just as important. I believe that creating and maintaining a supportive, positive, communal environment is key to client retention, client-instructor relations and overall studio success,” she says.

As a result of fostering a sense of community through Wine Down Fridays and otherwise, Kelly says clients feel more ownership over the studio and equipment. That means they’re more apt to take care of the equipment, help each other out and communicate their needs and wants to instructors.

“They are better able to support one another both in and outside of the studio and many have made some lifelong friends that extend far beyond the studio,” she says.

“Because of this, the studio is able to celebrate in the successes of each client and support them through the hardships together. When you join Studio Rue, you are joining a family. Wine Down Fridays have played a big role in that.”

What are you doing to create community at your studio? Let us know in the comments, on social @Merrithew or email us at communications@merrithew.com.

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