What’s harder than running a small business? Running a small business in a highly competitive space — like the fitness industry. When it comes to getting the word out about your studio, networking can be one of the most powerful tools to utilize. But to do so effectively, you’ll need to master the art of making connections that feel genuine, allowing you to create relationships with people you can leverage to help build your business.

Ready to master the art of networking your way through the fitness world? We asked a few pros to share their best advice based on what’s worked for them. Read on for their tips on networking in the competitive fitness industry.

Take other classes in your area

Okay, so you likely won’t head to your direct competitor to partake. But personal trainer Diana Mitrea says that one of the easiest ways to make connections is to get out there and support others in the space. “People tend to live in their own facility’s bubble,” she says, “looking down on those who attend other classes or worse, getting catty when their own members or staff go to other fitness spots. But we’re all are one big fitness family, and attending other people’s classes is an amazing way to build relationships long-term. Those people will likely return the favor and go to your class or facility, and thus the cycle continues.” Make sure you take the time to introduce yourself after class as well. “Talk to them about what you liked about the class, and mention your studio,” Mitrea says. “Don’t just go in and leave immediately! I always cringe when people message me online after the fact saying they attended.”

Create strategic partnerships

If you own a yoga studio, there’s likely not a realistic way that you and the owner of another yoga studio would be able to partner on something that would benefit both your businesses. Janis Isaman, owner of My Body Couture says that finding business owners with offerings that complement yours is a great way to grow your network. “I have a partner who owns a high intensity business that’s online subscription-based,” she explains. “She needed someone to provide expertise in the low-intensity ‘stretching/flexibility’ portion of her business, so we filmed segments for her website that I can access for my social media in return for her viewers getting access to my expertise. It was a win-win.” It helps for both parties to be clear about the goals they want to achieve in working together to make sure they align well.

Teach class outside of your studio

Your studio will always be home base. But hosting a class in another fitness space where there’s a need can help build connections while attracting new potential clients. “Some of my favorite classes to teach (and more lucrative) are not at yoga studios,” says yoga instructor Scarlett Redmond. “I teach a group of lawyers in their office on their lunch break, and I teach restorative stretch classes at CrossFit gyms. Get creative! The people who need yoga the most are not usually the same people hanging out at a yoga studio.” Best of all, you’ll get the word out about your studio and could even take some postcards or flyers to those groups to encourage them to come check you out on a regular basis.

Leverage social media

Being present on social media has plenty of benefits for your fitness studio, including the ability to connect with others in the space easily, from reputable instructors to fitness brands in your immediate area. “Ask respectable instructors to sub a class at your studio,” says Zumba instructor Ashlea Bonds. “Contact fitness apparel companies to see if you can review and promote their clothes at your studio or next event.”  You can also use social media to find out about fitness events happening in your area that you can partake in, either as a sponsor or a member. Tagging other instructors or studios in your posts after you take class at their studio is a great way to foster love and support in an otherwise competitive industry.

ClassPass Partners: Network with other business owners and ClassPass studios and gyms in your area with our ClassPass: In Session event series! Stay tuned for updates on when we’ll be in your market by subscribing to our Partner emails and review past events here