Sweat meetups are a way for people doing the Sweat programs to connect and be active in their community. In 2015, Kayla Itsines hosted a world tour in cities all over the globe. The BBG community was so invigorated by this that they started their own grassroots BBG meetup groups in their own cities. Since then, thousands of women all over the world have gathered together to workout and get to know each other in real lives.
As more trainers were added to the platform and people did other programs, the focus was less on Kayla’s programs and more on the Sweat community as a whole.
Today, the meetups are around all of the Sweat programs. They come in a lot of different forms: Zoom meditations, IG Live and Facebook Live workouts, going to a workout class together, following a Sweat workout at a park, going to brunch, volunteering–there are so many ways that the Sweat community connects with each other.
Meetups are not organized by Sweat, they’re organized independently by community members. This is truly a community movement; you don’t need approval to start a meetup group. Even the @sweatmeetups account is member-run!
Interested in Attending Sweat Meetups?
If you’re looking for a meetup group, find @sweatmeetups on Instagram and check out the accounts they follow to find the active meetup groups.
When you find one, you can look at their latest posts, the links in the bios, and DM them to see what’s next! Some groups tend to use Facebook Groups more than Instagram, so definitely click those links and join Facebook groups.
If they’re not very active and you want to help make it be more active, don’t hesitate to volunteer your help! These are all volunteer-led, and help is appreciated to bring the local community together.
No Local Sweat Meetups? Start One!
Are you so passionate about connecting with other women doing the Sweat programs that you want to make sure there’s a way to find like-minded women in your area? You can always start your own Sweat meetup group!
I’ll go through detailed step-by-step instructions for starting your own Sweat meetup group, but remember that these are just suggestions. Consider what I’m putting forward, but make the meetup group your own and do what works for you.
The first step is to define your vision
What is your overall goal? Maybe it’s to have Sweat followers and active women in your area to connect and support each other through their fitness journey. Maybe it’s to have a way for women doing a specific program a way to workout together virtually. The goal is to define what you’re providing and who would be interested in joining.
Once you have your vision, how will meetups help achieve this? Questions to ask yourself include:
- How do you want to hold meetups? Virtual, in person, or both?
- What will you do during the meetups? Workout, chat, activities
- Who’s your target audience?
Planning meetups can be a lot of work, and there’s always a fear that it won’t be successful. Define what success will look like for you. When I started thinking through my first meetup, I told myself it would be a success if 2 people showed up, even if they were just my friends. My goal for the first meetup was to get the ball rolling on the long term success; make realistic milestones, and adjust them as you get more experience.
The most important thing about hosting Sweat meetups is that you have to do it for yourself. Ask yourself if planning and executing this event will make you happy, even if only one person show up. A lot of times we focus on building community, but you can’t build community if you don’t enjoy the process. You will find out if you enjoy the process, but don’t be afraid to pass the baton if it ends up being something you don’t enjoy.
The second step is to start building your audience
How do you find people to join your Sweat meetup? How do you know if it would even interest anyone else?
When I was planning my first meetup, I reached out to a few Instagram friends in my area to see if it was something that people would actually be interested in it. I knew I was, and I thought people would have been, but I wasn’t completely sure. Some said yes! Some never replied (I took that as a no). But since there were a number of people who said they would be interested, that was enough to convince myself people would be interested.
As an aside, I don’t think that a single person who said they were interested showed up to that initial meetup. Not everyone who says they will attend will actually show up. It’s not a reflection of you–don’t take it personally. Of people who signed up, you’ll probably get 30-50% of them that actually show up.
If you don’t know anyone in your area, my next suggestion would be to post to the Sweat forum. Search to see if there have been any posts in your area in the past, and reply to see if anyone is interested. Start a new thread and ask if anyone would be interested in meeting up, and go from there. This has been a great start for many Sweat meetups!
Once thing you’ll need to do is have a way to communicate with people who have expressed interested. Since this is a very Instagram-focused community, a dedicated Instagram account always helps to serve as a way for people to find you and to tag you in their posts. You can also tag @sweatmeetups to help get the word out by re-posting.
Suggested ways to get the word out
Although it is a very Instagram-heavy community, not everyone uses Instagram. Here are some suggested ways to stay connected with people who are interested:
- Instagram account: A lot of the Sweat community is centered around Instagram. Creating an instagram account can help those who are interested get timely updates and also spread the word by sharing your content and tagging you in their own posts.
- Mailing list: For the DC group, we get the best response rate from sending out an email to our mailing list instead of posting to Instagram. Don’t discount email! With Instagram, you are dependent on their algorithm showing your posts to your followers. Email doesn’t have that problem as much–your email might go to a Promotions section, but it will be more visible.
- Website: Having a website can help people who are searching Google find your group and events. You can set up a free website through a lot of different providers, including wix.com.
- Facebook group: Let your members connect with each other, ask your members questions, and alert people of your next meetup. Facebook has been prioritizing posts from groups in feeds, so it’s also a good way to reach people through Facebook. You don’t want the group to only be used for announcements though–make it a place where people can connect.
- Sweat forum: Great place to see if there would be interest, find people from your area who has posted before. Can also post about your upcoming meetups, but need to post it early to give people time to find your post.
The third step is to focus on the logistics
Logistics can really trip people up. The first time is always the most daunting, but after that, you can re-use everything you’ve done to help get the next one done.
In Person Location
For in person meetups, you’ll need to work out space. Consider how people will get there, what parking and public transportation options there are, and how centrally located it is.
If it’s in a park, do you need a permit? Are there other events that are being held there? Is there shade available for hot days?
If it’s at a business, do you need a reservation? If you are bringing a large group (say for social time for get smoothies after a workout), the businesses will usually appreciate a heads up so they can staff appropriately.
For indoor venues, there may be costs associated. Stores like Athleta and Lululemon often have space for classes and it may be free or you it may require you to hold event insurance; check on that early on! If you are going to have a workout class, you’ll need to organize a date and time that works for the studio and how people will sign up (and pay if it’s a paid class).
Most meetups use Zoom accounts for the workouts. Zoom has a free option for meetings up to 40 minutes. Because of the time limit, you may want to do a short workout so there’s more opportunity for social time.
There are other services that you can use too where people can chat; you’ll need to be aware of limits for all services (for instance, Gather Town has a limit of 25 participants) as well as video and audio quality. It’s always best to do a test run with a friend before deciding on the technology.
IG Live and Facebook Live are options if you are broadcasting the workout, but attendees don’t get a good opportunity for conversation. We recently tried to stream our in person workout on IG Live via our phones and there are definitely some things to think through; you need a strong data or WiFi connection with high upload speeds to make this work.
Okay, you’ve decided on how people will get together and what the format will be! Now how will you get the details out and how will you know how many people to expect? How will you be able to contact people for reminders and if the event needs to be cancelled?
Creating a Google Form that collects emails is the most lightweight way to manage sign ups. You can have the details of the meetup in the confirmation screen, and manually send out reminder emails and updates. If you want to build a mailing list, you can also add a question to the form to see if they want to sign up for updates. From there, you can load those who opted in to a free email marketing tool like MailChimp.
Look for free website builders that also support event management. Wix.com offers event management, including the ability to automatically send email confirmation and reminders.
I like to collect Instagram handles in an optional field on the sign up form. That way, as I check people in, we have a list of everyone’s Instagram handles and can easily tag them on social media later.
Plan the Workout
You can do an app from the workout, you can create a custom workout that’s a mash up of different Sweat exercises, you can create your own workout, or you can rely of a fitness studio to lead the workout.
Whatever you want to do, plan the workout that you actually want to do, and how you will lead it. Think through how to position your device to see what you’re doing if you will be following the app. If you will be printing out a workout, write it up and have a printer ready. Do a test run with Zoom to make sure the visuals and sound are what you’d expect. This is always good to think through ahead of time so it’s not as stressful.
What music will you be playing? Music makes every workout fun! Create or find a playlist that will get people moving.
Of course, not every meetup has to include a workout! Don’t feel boxed into working out every time you have a meetup.
Day of Logistics
While these things are needed for the day of the event, they should be prepared in advance!
In Person things to consider are below. Of course, none of these are required!
- Water bottle, yoga mat, towel
- Bug spray and sunscreen
- Portable speakers (make sure they’re charged!)
- Any handouts (ex., of the workout or from sponsors)
- Phone tripod for taking a group picture
Keep an eye on your methods of contact (email, Instagram accounts, Facebook) for any questions. People will probably ping you with questions about where in the park you can be found or for the details for the Zoom. If you’re in person, I like to take a photo or video of where we are, or mark where we are on a map, and then post to our Instagram stories. This has gotten good feedback from people, I’ve been told it’s really helpful in finding the group.
Introduce yourself to everyone and facilitate connections! People come to Sweat meetups to meet new people. Include people in conversations, introduce people who might have something in common, and generally be a good hostess. Think of it as hosting a sweaty dinner party.
Tell the world about your Sweat meetups & post on social media
People love to see Sweat meetups and what they’re like. Your followers are curious about what happens at them and what the experience is like. If you can provide some footage and a group picture, it will get people interested. Some people will like seeing a meetup with high turnout, some will feel more comfortable if they see the meetup had low turnout. No matter what the turn out’s like, post it!
Tagging attendees in stories helps get the word out too, because they’re more likely to share a story they’re tagged in than a post they’re tagged in (but it’s good to tag them in both for good measure!). If you’re tagged in people’s posts, repost them. Lift up the people in your community!
And of course, tag @sweat, @sweatmeetups, and the trainers!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Sweat meetups can be a lot of work, especially if you’re doing it on a weekly or monthly basis. Ask people if they would like to help organize the meetups with you. If it’s more work than you expected, cut down the frequency and do what you can. At the end of the day, this is supposed to be FUN!
If you get to a point where you can no longer handle leading it, you can always pass the baton to someone else. You can give them the passwords and relinquish control, and they’ll take over. The Washington, DC Sweat meetup group has had many different hosts over the past 6+ years, and it’s continued on because people stepped up to take it over when their predecessors no longer could do it. We’re stronger because of it!