Instagram: Unexpected Collaborations Vol 1 – That Time I Went to a Martial Arts Studio for Social Media
Would I, unprompted, ever go to a kickboxing gym? Probably not.
Would I do it for Instagram? Absolutely
I received a message from a mixed martial arts studio in Dallas offering free classes to influencers. I thought this was an interesting tactic because though I definitely have the audience numbers and share a wider variety of lifestyle details on my stories, my feed is not at all about fitness.
They weren’t asking for the moon, just for recognition, which I’m all for. Also I’ve been slacking on my running routine lately so I figured this would be a great opportunity to force myself to do something healthy and active.
I told them I’d try out the Tuesday/Thursday fitness class because it fit into my schedule, but ended up having to opt out of the Tuesday one because work got crazy.
The Event: Freddie Pool’s Martial Arts Core Fit Class
I had no idea what to expect beyond what I’d found on their website. I left work at 6pm to make the 6:30pm class and changed in my car in the parking garage (I usually avoid gyms like the plague, so I wasn’t taking my chances on the awkward “Do you have a bathroom I can change in?” conversation)
I walked in and the guy at the front-desk immediately recognized me as an outsider, asking “Is this your first time?” and handing me an extensive form to fill out about how I heard about them and what I was hoping to get out of the class.
At this point in time I had no idea who ran their IG account so I didn’t know what name I’d reference or who I’d talk to if they asked me to pay, but luckily the studio provides your first class free anyway so I didn’t have to have the conversation
There was no box to check that said “I’m just here because you guys messaged me” so I checked “self-discipline” under the motivation section
The front-desk guy set me up with boxing gloves and introduced me to the instructor (who had held the door open for me as I walked in). The training room was exactly what you’d expect: lots of punching bags, mat floor, wall of mirrors, typical.
The class itself ended up being four people and the instructor. This was actually a perfect number because it was enough people that the instructor didn’t watch me the whole time, and few enough that if I was “behind” it wasn’t like twenty other people were shaming me in terms of their physical prowess.
There was another girl there who seemed to be about 100x more into fitness than me (she was wearing a t-shirt from a different gym) and when I asked if she went there often her response was “just this month” which was an indicator to me that she was probably also approached on Instagram. I confirmed this later when I saw the gym repost her account on social media – she has around 2k followers and runs something of a model-account on Instagram (nice portrait photographs of herself done by local photographers).
To that end, no one said anything about Instagram while I was there which was both eerie and nice because I knew someone associated with the gym was probably on the lookout for the people they had contacted. It felt like I’d just gone in for a class for the first time and was really, really, out of shape.
I posted about going to the gym in my stories after the class in my typical story-style. Their account responded fairly quickly, thanking me for coming
It was at this point that I realized that the instructor for the class I was in is probably an admin for their Instagram account. Was it a weird feeling to think that the guy who held the door open for me when I walked in knew who I was before I even said hi? Yes. Yes it was. Is it something I’ll just have to get over? Also, yes.
I actually really liked the class. They messaged me to say I still had a month of free training sessions, so I’ll probably continue to go back (and post when I do). If I really like it I might actually sign up with the gym. It’s currently four days post-class and I’m still comically sore, but I figure after another week or two of this routine my body will stop hating physical activity.
In terms of engagement, a fair number of people did click on the link to the studio’s page and I got a lot of feedback from people who are already engaged in the activity (e.g. “I do this! This is so cool! You should try Jiu Jitsu!”) so it was a great conversation starter in terms of connecting with my audience.
A local business not at all affiliated with technology reached out to me offering a free service in exchange for publicity. I said yes because I enjoy adventures, it fit into my schedule, and I could fit their request in with my branding on Instagram. No one treated me like I was well-known and it was all around a good experience. I might actually end up signing up with the martial arts studio full-time if the next couple weeks go well!