Virtual Belt Testing: 5 Tips to Make it Work for Your Martial Arts School

During a crisis like COVID-19, it’s important to get creative and use technology to your advantage. So, when we learned about the success Steve Giroux, owner of Giroux Bros. Martial Arts, has had with his virtual belt testing program for his students, we, of course, wanted to share it with the Martial Arts community.

With a student base of 180+ and overall retention rate of 95%+, Giroux Bros. Martial Arts’ goal was to train their entire student body and get them ready for belt testing within a 2-week period.

And they did just that.

Through the determination of staff and students, and use of online technology, Giroux Bros. Martial Arts crushed their goal. They were also able to ensure student accountability even while social distancing.  

How?  Virtual one-on-one private lessons. 

Steve was adamant about offering private lessons to every one of his students for two reasons:


To keep a better connection with the students.


After offering private lessons for years at his studio, in addition to group lessons, Steve learned that his retention with private students was better on average than with group students. He feels this is due to a more personal, one-on-one relationship that the student and teacher forms. 

With moving everyone online, Steve felt that this was extremely important to ensure the best possible chance for retention during the time away from the studio.

Added value to his members. 


During a time where studios are forced to close their doors temporarily, it’s extremely important to keep as much of the business’ revenue in place as possible.

By offering private lessons, all students at Giroux Bros. are getting VIP service with their most costly membership plan. In addition to the private lessons, the studio is offering weekly Zoom lessons as an added bonus for their Black Belt Club members. None of the students have asked for a rate reduction and are extremely happy and excited for their weekly private lesson.

Launching Your Own Virtual Belt Testing Program


If you’re looking to begin your own virtual belt testing program with virtual private lessons as part of the program, consider these 5 tips for a successful start:

1) Ensure everyone’s on board.


Depending on how large your school is, enlist the help of each of your instructors to conduct private lessons. In the case of Giroux Bros. Martial Arts, each instructor was given 30 students to work with. A virtual meeting was held with instructors prior to offering virtual private lessons to the student base. The pre-launch meeting helped to make sure all questions were answered and expectations were clearly set with the entire team. A pre-launch meeting also ensured buy-in from the staff and built excitement and connection around a shared goal.

2) Get the word out quickly.


To get the word out as quickly as possible and ensure consistency across the board with email communications, Steve and his instructors used templated emails to announce the private one-on-one lesson offer to students.

3) Set recurring one-on-one appointments.


Each student had a recurring appointment with their instructor each week at the same time to ensure consistency.

4) Leverage online technology.

Giroux Bros. Martial Arts used technology to their advantage to create a customized training plan. This allowed them to quickly and effectively connect with their students. More specifically, they used Zoom for conducting one-on-one virtual private lessons with instructors. They also used Member Manager software to quickly communicate with students by email.

5) Celebrate big to build community and human connection.

In a time where people are yearning for connection and community, Steve wanted to make the belt graduation celebration stand out. So, he mailed out a belt to each of his 150 students! Each package included a personal note from Steve encouraging the student to take a picture of themselves with their new belt and to share the picture on the school’s Facebook page. This helped ensure each student’s achievement was properly recognized and celebrated.  

Have your own success story? Tips on hosting virtual belt testing? Share it below.

In this together


Are you offering virtual belt testing to your students?

Let us help you. We’re opening our Event and Member Manager software for a full 30 days for just $1. (and, we’ll build your first online registration form for you, so you can start taking online sign-ups right away).

Using our software will enable you to fully leverage online technology and meet your business goals quicker. 

To get started, contact your Client Success Manager or book a quick call here.

For more tools, templates, strategy guides, and resources to drive member engagement and business growth amid COVID-19, visit our Business Resource Page. Be sure to bookmark the page too; we’ll continue adding resources as they become available.

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