How to Build an Online Fitness Community That Lasts

Growing a lasting online fitness community in a world where workouts are just a click away demands more than emojis and comments. It's about building connections that outlast the 'leave meeting' button.

The pandemic has changed the fitness industry forever. When lockdowns hit, nearly 3 out of 4 Americans tried fitness apps to stay fit. Fast forward to today, the online fitness market is the fastest-growing segment in the fitness industry, with a growth rate of 77.33% since 2019.

In a traditional gym or fitness studio, connections happen organically. It could be a quick chat before class or a friendly exchange while wiping down equipment after a workout—but those shared moments within a space naturally cultivate bonds.

However, creating a fitness studio online poses a new challenge: a digital barrier between you and your audience. Still, establishing meaningful connections is entirely doable.

These days, there are tons of fitness options available that make it easier for everyone to stay active. Especially online fitness, which has been a game-changer for busy people who find it hard to fit workouts into their schedules. 

But fitness classes aren’t just about the workouts. Building a tight-knit community can help you stand out from what traditional gyms offer. It's this sense of community that can turn your workouts into deeply impactful experiences for both you and your students.

Why Building a Fitness Community Matters

Ever wondered what makes group fitness classes feel so effective? 

There's solid science behind that extra push you feel in a group workout. 

Studies reveal that exercising with others significantly extends your workout duration, sometimes even doubling it compared to solo workouts. Plus, seeing others in action can inspire you to work harder, keeping you going when you want to quit.

But it's not just in-person workouts that benefit from this camaraderie. 

Creating community in your online course or coaching business can also impact your bottom line. Research shows that building a community boosts brand loyalty, with 8 in 10 consumers more likely to purchase new products or services from the brand.

When your students actively participate in a community, they develop a sense of belonging and connection to your brand and their fellow community members. It also gives students the chance to engage directly with you, which builds relationships on a deeper level. 

Strong relationships mean loyal customers who stick around.

And here's the kicker: happy community members are also your secret weapon. 

They’re more likely to share their positive experiences with others, attracting new customers while solidifying loyalty among the existing ones.

How Do I Attract Online Fitness Clients?

The first step to drawing in online fitness clients is to start by honing in on your values. When you embody and project your core beliefs, you pave the way for a gathering of like-minded enthusiasts. 

But how do you figure out these core values? 

Start by asking yourself some key questions:

  • What fuels your company beyond turning a profit? What's your big 'why'?

  • What principles are non-negotiable for you? What do you believe your business truly stands for?

  • What kind of impact do you want to have on your customers, community, and the world?

  • How are you different from your competitors? What unique values define your approach to fitness?

  • How do your values guide your choices? What role do they play in your strategies?

  • What are your company’s greatest strengths?

You'll likely have a long list of values after you answer these questions. However, you don't need to embrace them all. Focus on making them memorable and practical, so you can realistically uphold them in high-pressure moments.

Just like our tastes, our values are subject to change over time. What felt right five years ago may no longer align with today. Regularly revisiting and challenging these values is vital as your business grows and evolves.

Once you've curated your list of values, it's time to put them into action in your marketing. Make sure these values shine through in your marketing and website!

It's not just about stating your beliefs, it's about demonstrating them. Anyone can claim they stand for something, but the way you live those values is what sets your brand apart. When every message echoes your core values, your brand becomes unforgettable.

The best way to communicate your values on your website is by sharing your story. People naturally connect with and remember stories—it's how our brains are wired.

For example, we use our About page on Marvelous to demonstrate our values. We tell our story of feeling spiritually disconnected with the bro-centric tech culture and how we turned down funding to build a company that prioritizes connection and humanity above all else. 

You can have a dedicated list of values on your About page, or you can weave your values into your website copy. Take a look at Zapier—a SaaS tool that links apps and automates tasks. 

They lay out their values right on their About page:

Highlight testimonials and stories that reinforce your values. For example, Mario Forleo introduces herself on her About page as an entrepreneur, speaker, and writer who helps empower her audience to create a business and life they love. 

When you look at testimonials on her homepage, they reflect these same values:

Embrace your values wholeheartedly and you’ll find yourself surrounded by people who share your ethos.

How Do You Grow A Fitness Community?

01 Use Groups for Community Interaction.

Facebook Groups were the place for online business owners in 2018. But the times have changed on social media since then: TikTok exploded, and video content took over.

However, Facebook still ranks as the most-used platform worldwide and it’s packed with millions of groups. It's free to create a Facebook Group, and you can set it as closed for manual approvals or make it private so it’s only accessible to members.

Other community platform tools typically require a subscription fee. On Marvelous, we have a Community Groups feature—a private discussion forum that you can easily add to your Marvelous site.

You're not just limited to text here—you can add GIFs to your posts, send audio messages, and video, or pin important comments. Members easily tag each other in groups, leave comments, or send DMs. You can even schedule posts, putting your group on autopilot while you're off doing other amazing things.

02 Encourage Activity in Your Community.

While we all know the physical benefits of exercising, it’s hard to measure the emotional and social perks that come from connecting with fellow gym enthusiasts. 

But these interactions are proven to help us stay motivated to exercise and keep us looking forward to going to the gym!

Here are some ways you can encourage activity in your online fitness community:

  • Be responsive: Whether it’s inside your community or on social media, respond to as many comments and DMs as you can. 

  • Welcome new students: Give new members a personal, warm greeting to help them feel right at home from the start.

  • Ask questions: Get conversations going by throwing out open-ended questions that'll get your students talking. Mix it up with some easy ones too, just to break the ice and get everyone involved.

  • Be consistent: Stick to a regular schedule for interactions and posts to create a reliable community atmosphere. You might come up with themed post days or schedule posts after a livestream class.

  • Make things fun: Use fun stuff like memes, GIFs, and polls to liven things up—platforms like Marvelous make it easy.

  • Use a call to action: Whether it's a pre-recorded video or a live coaching call, don't hesitate to request feedback from your clients. Encourage your viewers or followers to comment on your workout videos, and be sure to engage and respond!

Encourage sharing: Maybe you came across an interesting article or video that you’d like to share with your community. Post it and ask for people’s opinions!

03 Interact With Members Consistently

Get in on the community-building action with your students! Being an active part of your community is rewarding, so make it a regular practice. Take the initiative to start conversations, reply to your followers’ posts, and answer questions quickly.

Engaging with comments and questions from your audience is a big opportunity for creators. Be sure to reply to comments left on your workout lessons or videos within your website or online studio. Don't forget, you can also engage with comments on platforms like Instagram or TikTok. (This alone will definitely make you stand out from many other creators and influencers!)

Make it a daily ritual to engage with your online fitness community. It doesn’t have to eat up your entire day—just 10 minutes, maybe twice a day can do wonders. Set a target for the number of messages or comments you want to share.

In the early days of growing your online fitness community, you'll probably have more time to engage with your audience. But as your business grows, it might be wise to consider sharing some of this interaction by bringing in a dedicated community manager.

04 Create a Fitness Challenge

Fitness challenges offer the perfect opportunity to build community engagement across different disciplines. Whether it's yoga, strength training, flexibility, or HIIT, there's a challenge for every enthusiast. 

When planning a challenge, the duration matters. 

Challenges can range from a week to a few months. While 30-day challenges are popular, they aren't the only option. Consider running shorter challenges (1 or 2 weeks, for instance) to cater to different schedules. Shorter challenges often offer a more focused burst of motivation. 

Either way, the goal of designing a program like this is that people can complete it together over a period of time. It can spark conversation and group support.

Studies have shown that sharing your goals with someone else increases the likelihood of achievement by 65%. However, committing to regular check-ins with someone about these goals skyrockets success rates to an impressive 95%.

Design challenges that resonate with your audience and niche. Here are 10 examples to inspire you:

  1. Equipment-Free Fitness Challenge

  2. 30-Day Stretch Series for Daily Flexibility

  3. Foundational Yoga Flow (5-Day Challenge)

  4. Back & Shoulders Sculpt (10-Day Challenge)

  5. Pilates Ball Bliss (2-Week Challenge)

  6. HIIT Cardio Blast Challenge

  7. 7-Day Meal Prep Challenge

  8. 21-Day Mindfulness Challenge

  9. 10-Minute Jump Rope Challenge

Each challenge not only supports personal growth but also acts as a platform for students to connect, encourage each other, and go after their fitness goals together.

05 Host Livestreams

Live events bring this undeniable energy that's often missing in pre-recorded videos—and that buzz brings something special to fitness classes.

It's not just about firing up motivation or making workouts more intense. Live events build connections, ignite conversations, and create a space filled with positivity and encouragement for your students.

When you offer live stream classes, you're tapping into that same energy and bringing that dynamic studio feel to their screens. Plus, there's no need to spend hours recording and editing. With just a webcam and the 'Go Live’ button, you’re teaching in real-time. 

Unlike pre-recorded sessions where you're in the dark, some live streaming tools, like Zoom, let you see your students and give instant feedback during class. You can address their questions and modify workouts on the fly.

With Marvelous, you can record and sell your live streams with two flexible options: a broadcast or a private 1:1 session. And our integrated Zoom feature makes link sharing hassle-free.

In live stream classes, it's like nurturing a tight-knit community—a space where shared interests bring everyone closer together. Keeping the class size small means more chances for personal connections and deeper bonds among everyone involved.

The Key to Growing Your Online Fitness Community

In today’s digital fitness world, the strength of community fuels motivation and brand loyalty. To attract and retain clients, you've got to live your values and make them the heart of your brand. 

Engage, inspire, and bring your community together—these are your tools for building a lasting community. Success grows in nurturing an inclusive environment where everyone thrives on their wellness journey, side by side.

Peek inside of Marvelous with a demo!

Teaching online just got gorgeous.

Demo Marvelous



7 Ways to Make the Most of the Marvelous Teaching Platform


Why It’s Hard For You to Sell Wellness