YMCAs are built on strong communities, but social distancing protocols have made it challenging for YMCA directors to maintain the sense of community that they’ve worked so hard to build. Though it can be a struggle to stay connected with members during this time, here are some tips to keep them engaged. Don’t forget, now more than ever, your members need the motivation and connection you provide.
Hold Virtual Fitness Classes
The doors to your facilities may be closed, but your members have not lost their desire to maintain their fitness. Give members a chance to participate in their favorite classes by offering virtual workouts that your members can access from home.
ACTIVENet can help you manage your virtual classes and has the tools to get the word out about your offerings.
Start a Private Facebook Group
Connect with your members—and allow them to connect with each other—by forming a private Facebook group. Use the group to encourage members to brainstorm activities they can do at home, share workout ideas and generally support each other through this trying time.
To start the group, assign an employee moderator to oversee it. That employee will be responsible for inviting members to join, ensuring that the conversations stay on-topic and remain respectful, and keeping the group interacting with each other when participation begins to lull.
Share Health and Fitness Tips
Whether you do this via the private Facebook group, your public Facebook page or on another forum of your choosing, keep members engaged by sharing health and fitness tips, healthy cooking recipes and other fitness-related news that they may find relevant (like local park closures, for example.)
Sharing this kind of information will not only help keep your members engaged but will also allow you to highlight other aspects of your organization that your members may not be aware of, like your on-site nutritionist.
Create At-Home Challenges
Chances are your YMCA hosts at least one annual member fitness challenge. Now is the time to take everything you know about hosting a fitness challenge and move it online.
Challenge your members to complete at least one workout a day while your YMCA is closed. Give them some guidance on how to log their progress (post a downloadable log-sheet online, for example.) Make sure that you reward the members that log the most workouts with fun swag, like a t-shirt, or recognize them publicly in the next newsletter.
Keep the Newsletters Flowing
Speaking of newsletters, you should continue to send out your regular member newsletter during COVID-19 closure. The newsletter is great way to connect with members and let them know that you’re still there to support them. It’s also a great chance to spread the news about your other offerings (like your online classes and your private Facebook group) as well as share the work you are doing to support the larger community during this challenging time.
Don’t Forget the Kids
It’s not just the fitness arm of your organization that has ground to a halt, after school and childcare programs have stopped in their tracks, too. Don’t forget to engage the youngest members of your organization.
Whether you reserve a section of your newsletter to share kid-friendly resources or build a webpage for caregivers to download the curriculum you use in your childcare centers, make sure you continue to engage the kids (it’s a huge help to their parents, too.)
Offer One-on-One Virtual Training Sessions
Some of your members will wish to continue working with their trainers, even if they can’t do so in person. Offering one-on-one virtual training sessions for your members can keep your trainers working and your members on track, even when they’re cooped up at home.
With just a few simple tools that can be purchased online (hand weights, exercise bands, yoga balls, etc.) your members can create a functional home gym. An online chat platform, like Zoom, will allow them to easily connect with their trainer.
Think Out of the Fitness Box
YMCAs are so much more than workout classes and exercise equipment. Most YMCAs offer many community-building programs. While some of those programs are inevitably on hold, others can be moved online.
Offer members a chance to join your YMCA’s virtual book club, take an evening cooking class, log-in to live group meditations or participate in your efforts to sew and donate face masks. The pandemic has caused so much disruption, but one silver lining is that it’s giving you the opportunity to show off every facet of your organization, and engage members in new and meaningful ways.