In 2017 I launched The Active Man, a multi brand website dedicated to sourcing the best fitness gear from around the world for the guy who wants to live an ‘Athletic Life’. This was something I was always passionate about and had wanted to do for years. Our USP is identifying small brands from USA, Australia, Europe which have a great message around fitness and an active lifestyle, whilst also working with the big brands like Adidas, Under Armour and Reebok. We launched Active in Style, the female equivalent, in 2014 and grown that to 45 brands and a store on Kings Road, and thought the time and market is right to launch the men’s version.
Social media, particularly Instagram had played a big role in the growth of awareness for Active in Style and I wanted to look at using this tool for growing the awareness of The Active Man. However, guys don’t use that platform in the same way as girls i.e. taking selfies in the gym in their new fitness gear, so we had to rethink our marketing strategy. I had met a few guys who are PTs and Fitness Professionals and thought it would be great to do a workout when a few of the guys have some ‘downtime’ during the day. 6 of us went to UN1T in Fulham and joined in one of their lunchtime sessions. An intense workout, a few high fives and the obligatory shirts off photo later, the chat was these should be more regular. There had been loads of ‘girls only’ workout events over the past two or so years and thought it was about time the guys had something tailored to them.
So I emailed a mate who owned a studio in Parson’s Green – Evolve353, Instagram direct messaged a few guys I had seen on social who I thought would be great to meet and two weeks later we had 12 guys for a workout, most of which I hadn’t met before and the other guys only knew a few.
We have since done team based competition workouts at F45 in Tottenham Court Road, Reach Fitness, Core Collective, The Foundry and Metabolic. Each event brings a handful of new guys and quite often the events have a significant waitlist as the workout is capped around 25 due to space in the studios. These events have received interest and sponsorship from some great brands with guys coming along often getting gear and food/beverage from the like of Under Armour, 2XU, Fresh Fitness Food, Neat Nutrition, Mobo Bottle and Nocco.
We have called these workouts ‘Training Days’. What made these events ‘unique’ or ‘different’ from a lot of workouts is they had an element of competition and comradery to them. Like myself, a lot of PTs are ex sportsmen (not all professional) but used to love playing team sports and the competition it offered. PTs spend a lot of time by themselves or with clients making it hard to connect with others in the industry. So giving them a platform to meet new people who they can learn new things off and also do something they love – compete – was a win win for all those who attended – the interest level quickly grew.
To help build the awareness and community, we shared images and videos on social and I also continued to spend quite a bit of time connecting with people on Instagram and asking the guys who were coming along if they knew anybody who would be a good addition to the group. After each event now I come home to messages in my inbox from people who have seen what’s going on and are asking to get involved.One thing which has been core to the whole community is that everyone is there for a common reason – fuelling their passion, meeting new people and learning new skills. There is no place for ego in a community like this one. Luckily to date everyone who has joined has been a top shelf.
What’s next? Each event has to be different or better than the last so in September last year we launched the TURF GAMES. This event saw 30 guys in 6 teams of 5 competing in every month over September, October and November with a huge prize pool for the winning team at the end. The first event was a strongman style workout at The Foundry in Vauxhall on 27th September and you can see the video HERE. The second event was a S&C style session at Rosslyn Park Rugby Club on 25th October – video HERE and the third was at Crossfit Shapesmiths on November 25th which was a functional training workout testing various skills – check it out HERE.
This year the Turf Games will be next level, with the first one kicking off on 3rd Februaryat Metabolic. This series we have 60 guys across 12 teams battling it out across all forms of functional training workouts. If you want to be part of it this weekend or future rounds do drop us a email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Spectators are also welcome this weekend from 12-3pm
Here are some of my top tips to build a community:
- Just ask! Social media has allowed us to easy access people we would never have been able to and most people love getting an invitation or learning something new. Don’t hold back on private messaging people you have never met.
- Provide value – whether it is a workout at a new location, or a platform to meet new people, if there is perceived value, people will attend.
- People will say no, or not reply. Don’t let this put you off, persistence beats resistance
- The first session doesn’t have to be all bells and whistles or perfect, just get the first one done and see where it takes you.
- Keep in touch. Ideally when building a community you need regular touch points, whether it is regular meetups or emails. Once you have momentum, don’t give it up.
- Leave your ego at the door. No one person is bigger than the group. You may make mistakes in inviting people along, but be sure that the group dynamic remains cohesive throughout
Here is what the TURF GAMES is all about.