In part 1 of this series, we looked at the stories behind our five fitness centers and we briefly touched on the communities of members that they built. In this installment, we’ll dive deeper into those burgeoning communities and learn more about how using a fitness management system has helped encourage their growth. We’ll also learn how each of our interviewees gives back to their community in their own unique way.
The Power of Community
The natural first stop when discussing the communities surrounding our fitness centers is CrossFit City of David. We spoke to Daniel Cohen who joined the gym initially to work out, but eventually became a coach and even worked his way up to become a co-owner of the business.
“Everyone knows everyone else. People become friends here and connect really well with one another. The workouts are tough, but that’s what brings people together.”
Daniel explained that while many CrossFit gyms benefit from a tight-knit community of members, City of David’s members take it even further.
“We go out to bars, to the beach. We even have parties. When people join they know they’re joining a community.”
When I asked him what he thinks about the fitness community in Jerusalem at large he explained it rather simply.
“Jerusalem is a special city. We have all kinds of people working out in our gym. Students, people preparing to join the army, people in security positions and lots of older people looking to stay in shape. It’s great to have that kind of diversity.”
You might think that it’s easy for CrossFit gyms to foster this level of closeness based on the nature of their daily communal workouts, but we learned that a community and family feel is rather common in Jerusalem.
“My studio was created to give people a home, not just a place to work out.” That’s Roni Hillel, the Owner and Head Coach of Studio Be1 and he believes that building a community around his members is non-negotiable.
“Everything I do in my studio is with small groups or training within even smaller groups. That makes it more intimate and personal. The community aspect is very important to me and I’m always trying to find new ways to keep my members connected to the studio.”
Roni explained that he conducts workshops within Studio Be1, he offers livestream videos on the Studio’s Facebook page every week to provide motivation and nutritional information. The goal is to stay connected to everyone.
And what’s the perfect way to bring people together? Food.
“I created a ‘bring your friends’ competition for the studio to help grow our membership. The top five members who brought in the most people to join my studio are invited to a dinner that I cook myself.” Not only can Roni out-lift you in the gym, but outcook you too? Why wouldn’t you want to train with him?
While both Roni and Daniel are finding exciting ways to cultivate their communities, our other interviewees are finding a community built around them.
“My studio has an amazing community feel to it. People meet here [at the studio] and become friends. It feels very much like a family.”
Nitza’s pilates studio is found on a pretty busy street in Jerusalem (trust me, I commute through there every day) and you might even miss it hiding among the greenery. But step through those trees and it’s as if the hustle of the city melts away and among the trees and sunlight is the perfect place for a pilates studio.
“It’s a community studio,” Nitza explains. “There aren’t many places like this. People have fun here. They feel seen. The studio really feels like a home.”
Over the past 10 years, Nitza has built up her clientele to become a staple of the Katamon neighborhood in Jerusalem and that familiar feel helped her through the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even before COVID-19, it’s tough for people to want to leave their house and do a pilates workout. I really feel like my studio helps bring people together. They ask each other why they missed a class. During the lockdown, my clients continued with me over Zoom and I really felt them supporting me and each other.”
While a small studio in a residential neighborhood is the perfect place to cultivate a community of members, managing thousands of members in a country club on the outskirts of the city seems like a much tougher task.
As we mentioned in the previous article, the R Club Country Club has 3,500+ members, most of whom are from Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Despite its size, R Club has maintained a community feel for more than 30 years. Many of their patrons are “legacy members” whose parents signed up back in the 80’s or 90’s and have kept their families involved with the country club ever since.
The country club also services the kibbutz within which it was founded, Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, and many members of the kibbutz have been long-time country club members.
Giving Back to the Community
I was excited to see the diverse communities that have sprouted around each of our fitness centers, but it was incredible to hear what our interviewees are doing to help facilitate that growth.
Within Jerusalem, one of the world’s holiest cities, the R Club members enjoy uninterrupted access to the facilities throughout the Sabbath that takes place every week from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.
Maayan from R Club explained how their complex is able to provide an extra benefit to their members in regards to the Sabbath.
“We try to cater to as many people as we can, that’s why we offer memberships that include access on Saturdays and those that exclude Saturdays for people who are religious.” She also added that, “The club is packed on Saturdays. Especially the pool.”
Some of our other fitness centers are taking a more personal approach, like Josh from CrossFit Jerusalem who is focusing on the one-to-one aspect of coaching with his members.
“You know, it sounds weird, but I kinda wish I could go back to how things were during the COVID-19 lockdown because I had such a great connection with my members. I loved that communication and I want to focus more on that moving forward.”
Similarly, Nitza found that she could really connect with her members using Zoom while everyone was stuck at home, especially because she created such close connections before her studio had to shut its doors.
Giving back to the community in any way is always exciting to learn about, but what really stood out to me the most was discovering the exceptional ways that some of our owners are paying it forward.
Roni from Studio Be1 offers free training once a month that is open to people with disabilities, at-risk youth and people who aren’t as financially stable as some of his other members.
Daniel from CrossFit City of David helps young people prepare for their enlistment into the IDF and even holds private workouts for elite IDF military units to help them maintain their fitness levels and enhance their training.
Implementing a Fitness Management Software
After getting to know each of our fitness centers a little better, we also took some time to talk to each of our interviewees about their experience using the Arbox platform and how using a fitness management system is helping improve their businesses.
Since in its early stages Arbox was built for CrossFit gyms, it’s no surprise that our two CrossFit owners have been using the platform longer than anyone else on our list. They both had a lot of feedback for us and explained the different features they benefit from the most. Additionally, both Daniel and Josh kept coming back to the same points when describing Arbox: ease of use and responsiveness.
“It’s a great software,” Josh from CrossFit Jerusalem tells me. “Excellent customer service, easy to use. Really easy to use. In the beginning we were doing things on pen and paper and then ‘upgraded’ to Excel sheets. It was just so much work. We use Arbox for membership, sales, tasks, reminders, reporting; all of that important stuff.”
Daniel from CrossFit City of David has dubbed himself an “Arbox groupie” after using the platform for just about 3 years.
“Arbox gives me peace of mind. It solves our issues of registration for workouts, the members find it easy to use and it’s really helped us out a ton. Arbox has the best customer service and very quick response time. They were really great during COVID-19.”
Daniel was also using other tools that weren’t cutting it before switching to Arbox. A local Israeli invoicing system combined with Excel sheets just weren’t enough, similar to Studio Be1 and R Club who quickly ditched their previous tools when looking for an adequate solution to issues facing their businesses.
Roni had this to say when I asked about how he got started using Arbox.
“I was using a different tool, but it wasn’t suited for my type of studio. I used it for two months and then I made the switch to Arbox, which I’ve been using for the past 2.5 years.” Roni’s studio also credits Arbox’s simplicity in helping him manage all the needs of his business. He’s very busy and feels that “Arbox helped in the right way to help him get on top of things” at Studio Be1.
Similarly, R Club Country Club was using a platform that wasn’t powerful enough to meet the needs of a business of their size.
“We didn’t get any reporting from our previous tool. It wasn’t web-based and we were still using Excel to manage all of our leads.” Maayan Asheri, who was responsible for finding a better solution and ultimately integrating the Arbox platform, noted that they had clear goals when making the switch.
“We were looking for something more efficient and easy to use. We wanted to update the whole process of registration for classes, something that Arbox really helped us with during the reopening after COVID-19.”
Maayan also added that, “Arbox is very user-friendly and while we’re still learning the system, some features have been invaluable for us. Especially the ability to charge ‘unions and corporations’ such as banks or police departments that offer membership at the country club as a corporate perk.”
While all of our other interviewees were using some sort of tool to help them manage their fitness centers, Nitza wasn’t using anything for her pilates studio prior to Arbox.
“It was a complete mess before Arbox. I actually got a recommendation from a friend running a studio in Tel Aviv. The financial features helped a ton, as well as reporting and tracking my monthly revenue.”
Even though both facilities were using Arbox prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, like Maayan at R Club, Nitza most benefited from the Arbox capabilities during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“It helped a lot during COVID-19. Registration and scheduling especially helped the most. It enabled me to have more one-on-one training while people were at home.”
It was incredible meeting all of these amazingly unique fitness owners and seeing how they each navigate their realm of the fitness world in their own way. I enjoyed taking in the sights and sounds of five diverse clubs, and learning more about the fitness landscape within the city of Jerusalem.
Learning how they are each using the Arbox platform was insightful and it was very informative and helpful to receive constructive feedback about our system that we are constantly working to improve.
As you can see from the two parts of this series, Jerusalem’s fitness centers are as unique, diverse and special as the city itself. Getting a glimpse into the fitness side of a city so focused on religion and history was very interesting and seeing our clients growing following the COVID-19 pandemic was awesome.
Learn more about the people and businesses we interviewed: