How to create a family in your franchise
When Lynnae Palu and her partner Matt took over Takapuna’s F45 gym, creating a family vibe was a priority. And when COVID tried to break that family up, Lynnae worked to make the bonds even stronger by keeping connections going.
Adrienne: Have you always been into fitness? How did you come to F45?
Lynnae: Yes, I’ve always been passionate about health and fitness and giving back – I love to help other people reach their fitness goals. I’m a certified Les Mills group fitness instructor and for three years before taking over F45 Takapuna I loved, lived and breathed F45. So when the opportunity came up for Matt and I to take on the gym, it felt like a great match. We took over last year and have been running it for nine months now, through all the ups and downs of COVID.
Adrienne: You clearly made a strong impression from the start! You were nominated as a Local Business Hero with the comment that your F45 gym felt more like a family than a gym. How do you build that family vibe?
Lynnae: Our motto at the gym is family, friendly and fun. We always wanted to make it feel like a family and you’ve got to have fun while you exercise!
For us, creating that family feel is about being in the gym every day, getting to know our members. Early on, it was especially important that we were on the floor every morning, checking in with members, learning their names and making them feel welcome. I always ask, what are your goals? Where are you stuck? How can I help?
Now we get hugs and high fives! A simple “how are going?” can turn into a much bigger conversation. And that’s exactly what we want. No one feels like a number. Everyone has a name.
The F45 franchise is very supportive of the way we run our business and appreciate our focus on building a community vibe – that’s where their members come from after all.
Adrienne: As we speak, New Zealand is back in stage four restrictions. How do you manage to keep the F45 family together?
Lynnae: It’s all about staying connected and keeping people engaged. That might be through making a quick call or via the members’ exclusive Facebook page where we post daily challenges with small prizes to keep members involved with their fitness goals. They can also use that page to engage with each other – whether it’s for meal suggestions or about life in lockdown. It’s a great way to keep up momentum and stay motivated.
It’s important to figure out how people prefer to communicate so we can stay in touch with everyone. Some people don’t use social media and just prefer a text message – we like to make sure we can reach everyone.
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Adrienne: What’s your strategy for attracting new members?
Lynnae: Word of mouth is the most effective way of reaching new members. We’ve increased our membership by 60% since we acquired the business with significant growth to come. It’s helpful also that F45 has wide brand recognition in the community.
Our existing clients are so enthusiastic and positive about their experience and they bring in work colleagues, friends, family members. I always like to make sure I’m there to meet someone new and make the connection and we find that once people have had their free trial, they usually sign up straight away.
Adrienne: What about your staff – are they members of the family too?
Lynnae: Absolutely. We’ve got seven trainers on rotation and they are a really mixed group of people. They all have different body types and some are parents, and that [diversity] is important to us so that our members can see what’s possible. You don’t have to be thin to be able to do burpees!
Our trainers really understand how important it is to keep members uplifted – their mood creates a chain reaction that filters through.
We touch base regularly about where we are at and where we want to be. When we’re all on the same page, everything runs smoothly.
Adrienne: F45 can seem pretty intimidating! How do you help people get over that fear?
Lynnae: Think of it like that first swimming lesson when you were a kid – we all remember that feeling! Once you’re in the water, it’s okay. And you don’t have to prove everything in your first session. You can modify your exercises to suit your level. When I call someone who is about to start, they always say they’re a bit scared. But that’s what our trainers are here for – to help guide you through. And there’s no cliquey groups! Everyone is kind and in it together.
We find people who thought they could never do a rowing challenge, for example, get really motivated by the group and the momentum carries them through. It’s that chain reaction.
And it’s not just all about muscles. It’s about helping people feel good. We have members who will sit in traffic to get to their session because it’s so important to their mental wellbeing.
Adrienne: You’ve got some new initiatives and equipment coming in – is that generating some excitement?
Lynnae: It really is! Our members are hanging out for the equipment and it will be great to offer some more variety and change up the workouts. There’s a lot of anticipation building for the new ski ergs and bikes!
We’ve also got our Spring into Summer challenge coming up which is super popular. We’ve started pop-up Sunday sessions too which are a big hit with our mum members as it gives them the opportunity for some time-out on the weekend.
In the meantime, we’re offering Zoom classes so everyone can stay on track with their goals or at least include a bit of exercise in lockdown life. But we can’t wait to reopen the doors and be reunited with our F45 family.
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