The Secret Sauce of a Fitness “Cult”

If you look at what’s happening in fitness industry, you’d be hard pressed not to have noticed the “cult-like” following that surrounds some brands such as CrossFit and Zumba.

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CrossFit is “Forging Elite Fitness” though constantly varied, high intensity activities that includes everything from Olympic Lifts to kipping pull-ups. Zumba, on the other hand, wants you to “Ditch the Workout and Join the Party” a Latin dance based workout system. Could these two styles of training be further apart? While they are very different (and Crossfitters even make fun of Zumba participants), what they have in common is the blind devotion of their followers. How does that happen?

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In The Power of Cult Branding authors Matthew W. Ragas and Bolivar J. Bueno present the Seven Golden Rules of Cult Branding:
1. Consumers want to be part of a group that’s different.
2. Cult brand inventors show daring and determination.
3. Cult brands sell lifestyles.
4. Listen to the choir and create cult brand evangelists.
5. Cult brands always create customer communities.
6. Cult brands are inclusive.
7. Cult brands promote personal freedom and draw power from enemies

Think about CrossFit and Zumba.
1. They are very different than other modes of exercise.
2. The creators were committed to their way of training.
3. They are absolutely selling a lifestyle through various branded products, and shared experiences. Zumba even has a magazine called Z-Life.
4. The participants feel a part of the organization, feel like they are appreciated and are encouraged to spread the gospel.
5. Crossfitters and Zumba enthusiasts are all about their community. This may include their own language (WODs, poods, and ”Uncle Pukie” in CrossFit) or outfits, bags, and other apparel as can be found in the Zumba store.
6. Both are inclusive. Everyone is welcome to drink the Kool-Aid, including kids and seniors.
7. Both CrossFit facilities and Zumba classes are as different as the instructors. They are free to structure them as the individual instructors see fit. Differentiation from the competition is often an integral part of the marketing plan. “We are not…”

This type of community can be yours too with whatever type program you offer. Think about how you can utilize these rules to create your own fitness cult.

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