This fitness leader created a daily challenge with community at its core
“Channels is so user-friendly from both the leader standpoint and from the member standpoint. I also love that it’s raw. A lot of the common social media coaching out there right now tells us to “Be authentic. Be unfiltered. Be real.” You get that on Channels, and I think people like that.” –Austin Taylor, MA, CSCS, and creator of the With Me, For You Fitness Challenge
When Austin Taylor decided to take his fitness business online, he knew he had the expertise to create valuable subscription-based programming. He knew how to give people their healthy, daily dose of strength training and cardio.
But he was interested in offering something more. So he began by asking himself what his clients craved most. The answer wasn’t just rock-hard abs.
“It was connection,” Austin says. “Especially right now when everyone has to be home. Whether it’s a parent coping with kids out of school or a professional missing daily interaction with coworkers, what we all need right now is connection.”
Here's how, with Channels by Marco Polo, Austin created an immersive online fitness challenge that supported not just his members’ physical health, but their social and emotional well-being. As members stayed fit and accountable from home, Austin monetized his online coaching business and built a new kind of fitness community.
Effective coaching doesn’t just go one-way
Before discovering Channels, Austin was posting hour-long workouts on Instagram Live. While his followers liked streaming his workouts in real time, they could only comment in text – next to impossible when you’re in the middle of crunches.
It also concerned Austin that people were paying for his time and expertise without being able to really interact with him, or, for that matter, with each other. How could people stay motivated and accountable when no one could really see what they were doing?
And finally, Austin missed the personal bonds he forged with clients when training them one-on-one. Getting to know people’s lives and stories as they worked together made Austin a more successful coach.
Austin wanted a direct, personal line to his clients, with no filters, no high production values, and no algorithms, ads, or other distractions getting in the way.
The Channel: “With Me, For You”
Austin’s 30-day With Me, For You Fitness Challenge kicked off in April 2020, offering workouts that people of all skill and fitness levels could follow from home with no special equipment – just Channels, the Marco Polo app, and access to live meeting software.
For a one-time charge, members received five workouts each week to follow live or watch later; a daily group check-in on Channels; and a weekly one-on-one coaching session.
The night before each live workout, Austin posted a preview on his channel along with a link to the next day’s live session. After the session, he posted to his channel again, this time asking every single member of the group to check in with status.
Because he received a notification every time someone posted, he knew who was actively participating and who needed extra motivation. During one week of the challenge, he offered a giveaway to the person who replied to the most posts.
“I have a couple of members who are really good about not just posting their own accountability check-ins but replying to other people’s. Just seeing someone say ‘Hey, awesome job!’ makes a difference.”
Accountability rests on everyone’s shoulders
During the first 30-day challenge, 90 percent of members actively participated, meaning they watched posts, participated in workouts, and checked in daily with their status.
- Members’ favorite aspect of the challenge was being able to interact with Austin and with each other over Channels.
- They loved the program’s consistency, with Channels getting them primed for live workouts and helping them stay accountable.
- Austin appreciated that accountability wasn’t just coming from him, but from within the group itself.
The April 2020 pilot was so successful (and fun) that Austin planned to repeat it in May. One hundred percent of his April members committed to signing up again.
“And they’ve all got some friends,” he says. “I hope to double the size of the group.”
Austin’s top Channels features
#1. Simple setup and usage. “You can explain Channels in 15 seconds, and I’ve gotten tons of feedback from members about how easy it was to register and pay. That simplicity integrates really well with my brand.”
#2. Notifications. Knowing when members post helps Austin track engagement and hold people accountable. “If I see that someone hasn’t watched any videos in a couple of days, it means I need to reach out to them.”
#3. Authenticity. “I’ll even use the word ‘raw,’ and I mean that in a positive way. I don’t have to spend time or money producing videos, and members love getting a real glimpse into my life. That’s what builds connection.
To learn more about how Channels can help you authentically connect with your audience, visit channels.marcopolo.me.
Austin Taylor, MA, is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and creator of the 30-day “With Me, For You” Fitness Challenge.