3 Ways To Leverage Community Partnerships When Running A Nutrition Challenge In Your Gym

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It’s that time of year when we see a big surge of gyms running nutrition challenges. In our experience of helping thousands of people with their nutrition, there are two times of year when we see gym members making a big push towards getting healthy. During the fall monhts, and at the new year. No matter what time of year your gym is running a nutrition challenge, there is never a better time to leverage community partnerships with your challenge.

Community partnerships are intended to benefit both the gym owner and the business, hence the term partnership. Many gym owners get caught asking “why would a local business want to support my gym’s nutrition challenge?”

Well we can help answer that question! If you are a gym owner getting ready to run a nutrition challenge in your gym, this blog post is for you!

We are going to give you 3 amazing ideas on how to leverage community partnerships, AND show you how these relationships benefit both parties.


What Are Community Partnerships?

3 ladies sitting at a table collaborating on partnerships

Community partnerships refer to collaborative relationships formed between organizations, businesses, or individuals with the shared goal of addressing a specific community need, or achieving a common objective. These partnerships are typically established to leverage the combined resources, expertise, and influence of the involved parties. Additionally the relationships create positive, and sustainable impacts within a community.

In short we love community partnerships because they help your gym collaborate with other small local businesses just like yours. The intent with this collaboration is to help each other engage people in the community by leveraging your reach. Your reach is how many people your business has access to wether they are leads on an email list, or people that you engage in person with every day.

When you partner with other local businesses, you can share each others audience, or reach. This allows both parties to increase access to the attention of more people. When choosing partnerships, there is typically a related theme between the two businesses. For example, my gym has partnered with meal prep companies, local cafes, local coffee shops, and local athleisure stores.

In each of these examples, there is a common theme, and shared vision between the two businesses. An athleisure business cares about how people feel when working out, and all gym goers need cool clothes to work out in. And for the other examples, the common theme is food or nutrition.

Other examples of business types that would be great to collaborate with as a gym owner apart from restaurants or coffee shops would be yoga studios, bike shops, physical therapists, massage therapists, chiro’s, or even sauna, and cold plunge providers.

Partnerships To Avoid

Our suggestion is to stick to local businesses when considering partnerships. Those big chain establishments like Starbucks don’t have a business model that will allow for many partnerships like we would be suggesting.

Additionally, there is something to be said for two local businesses working together to improve community health, and raise each other up!

starbucks storefront demonstrating companies not to develop partnerships for the nutrition challenge

3 Ways To Leverage Community Partnerships With Your Nutrition Challenge

Now let’s get to the good stuff! A nutrition challenge is an amazing way to start a collaboration with a local business. The reason being is that both parties win from the collaboration.

Let’s assume that you have landed a community partnership with a smoothie shop, and a chiro down the street. You have asked them to sponsor your nutrition challenge and they both said “yes”!

Now what!?

Here are some tips on how you as the gym owner can bring in a community partner, and have them benefit from the “sponsorship” just as much as the gym benefits.

Tip #1 - Invite Your Small Business Partner To "Sponsor" A Nutrition Talk

At HSN Mentoring, as part of our curriculum, we teach our mentoring gyms to hold either virtual or in person nutrition talk events a couple weeks before the challenge. The events are free, and intended to be a lead generator for the nutrition challenge. The free talk is given on a topic of great interest, and should help people solve a problem they are having related to nutrition and wellness.

Oftentimes nutrition coaches will have talks about fad diets, meal prepping, and building balanced snacks. Regardless of the topic, the event brings in interested parties who are now leads to the program, and challenge.

Here are a couple examples showing how collaboration on a nutrition talk could take place.

  1. The sponsor could offer a drawing for a prize or free give away related to their business for anyone in attendance at the talk.

  2. The chiro sponsor could offer a drawing for a free adjustment to anyone in attendance.

Free things perk peoples interest. If they listen to a nutrition talk, and also get the opportunity to win something like an adjustment, or a free smoothie, lot’s of people will take part. While they are there listening to the talk, they will learn something. They will think “if their free stuff is this good, I can only imagine what I would get out of something I pay for.”

And just like that, you will get a nutrition challenge sign up!

Tip #2 - Invite Your Small Business Partner To Collaborate On A Menu Item (Food & Beverage Partnerships Are Amazing)

We always encourage a food, or food & beverage sponsor for a challenge. Your clients are guaranteed a successful nutrition challenge if they can learn how to eat out by choosing healthier options at their favorite coffee shops, smoothie shops, and restaurants.

Collaboration on a menu item can happen a couple different ways:

  1. The nutrition program can highlight current menu items that are on the healthier side. This can be done via putting a little “gym” sticker next to items on the menu, or it can be done by highlighting these menu items in an email or challenge communication thread.

    Having a discussion with the owner of the business you are partnering with to determine how they are willing to work with you regarding the way the menu item will be highlighted is the best place to start. We have seen restaurant partners willing to print and re – laminate menus in order to highlight specific choices as “healthy”.

  2. Coming up with a “special” for challenge participants to enjoy during the challenge at the establishment is also a great way to collaborate. The special can be a custom recipe or menu item made just for the challengers, or it could be a current item on the menu highlighted, and offered for a discount during the challenge. For example during one of our nutrition challenges, a partner offered $5 recovery shakes for all challengers during the challenge.

    In the past we have collaborated with our restaurant partners to come up with recipes for “buff bowls”, or smoothies named after the gym that were macro friendly. Additionally we would provide some education via zooms on how to eat healthy at the specific partners establishment. Doing this teaches challengers how to make healthy choices when dining out which is a great interactive lesson during a nutrition challenge.

Tip #3 - Invite Your Small Business Partner To Collaborate On Prizes For The Challenge Participants

In order to run a successful nutrition challenge do you need prizes? No, but prizes are great to offer. Yes, there is always the notion that everyone who has success during the challenge is a winner. That is true, but people love prizes, and for some it helps with their motivation, especially when working towards health goals.

During the nutrition challenges I run in my gym, we always give a grand prize. Additionally we provide smaller prizes for our “mini challenges” that take place weekly during the challenge.

Offering the partner a chance to sponsor the grand prize, and also weekly mini challenge prizes are great ways for them to get involved. Most of the time prizes provided by sponsors will have something to do directly with their business. However I have seen sponsors provide prizes like air fryers, and fitness shoes which are both pretty cool prizes.

Weekly mini challenge prizes are typically something small, like a $5-$10 gift card. If a smoothie company were sponsoring mini challenges, they could provide a free smoothie the the weekly winner. Our meal prep challenge sponsor provided a weeks worth of dinners for the grand prize, and a lunch for the weekly mini challenges.

The sky is the limit when it comes to prizes. Try something new, and if it doesn’t work out, change it up for the next challenge.

How Do Local Businesses Benefit From Being a Gym's Partner?

During the mentoring calls I do for HSN Mentoring, I hear many gym owners question why other small businesses would want to partner with them. They don’t see how both parties will benefit from the relationship.

There are a couple ways partners will benefit from the relationship.

  1. The partnership provides the opportunity for the business to promote itself to a new group of warm leads.

    Think about it, if a smoothie shop sponsors a nutrition talk for your gym’s nutrition challenge, you will invite them into the talk to briefly speak about their business, and answer questions. This opportunity alone is worth its weight in gold, and really cheap marketing to warm leads.

    If the smoothie company provides grand prizes, and prizes for the challenge, they have basically just received 100’s of new warm leads for the cost of a few shakes. People doing fitness love protein smoothies. All the company has to do is come up with a healthy option, and offer it to your people. They will be customers for life.

    Value shown.

  2. Social Media, and email list exposure is another benefit of being a sponsor.

    Still using the smoothie shop as an example, the social media advertising the gym does to promote the nutrition talk and challenge will include the smoothie shops name as a sponsor. This also puts the smoothie shop in front of a ton of people it may not have had access to otherwise. We have over 2000 people on our email list. Many gyms have twice or three times that amount. Getting access to all those leads for just a few smoothies and some time is a great opportunity for the small business.

How Does The Gym Benefit From Having Community Partnerships For A Nutrition Challenge?

girl screaming in excitement from winning a prize donated by a community partnership

Gym owners get just as many benefits from having a partner as the partner does for being one. A couple of those benefits are:

  1. Prizes for the challenge participants

    Prizes can be expensive, and having those taken care of by a sponsor is a big relief. When working with different businesses over the years, it’s really cool to see their ideas for prizes. Sometimes they come up with ideas I never would have thought of. Additionally, because these partners share common ground regarding health and wellness, it’s fun to see them them get excited to give something to people who are really working hard towards their goal.


  2. Shared audience = more leads

    Just like your chosen partner benefits from your reach, or audience, the gym has the same benefit. When you partner with another local business, the end goal is to be able to leverage their email list too so more people are informed about the opportunity to sign up for the challenge.

    Sharing each others reach develops more leads for the both of you. A successful partnership is one where both partners benefit from the relationship.

Wrap Up

Community partnerships could be part of the long term success of your nutrition program. Not only does involving the community solidify your existence in the local business network, but it exposes your members to services that may benefit them. The mutual respect you will gain from working with community based organizations could lead to other collaborations, and referalls in the future.

If you are a gym owner reading this, we would love to hear how you are collaborating with a local business for your challenge! Send me an email at heather@healthystepsnutrition.com.