Roughly 12% of new members join in January and an estimated 50% of New Year members quit the gym six months after signing up. That’s a high turnover for gym owners to tackle. Two of the top reasons why someone quits the gym are a lack of motivation or a lack of results. The bottom line is that this creates a cycle. If you’re not seeing results, you lose motivation. If you lose motivation, you’re not showing up to the gym and won’t be seeing results.
So, how do you motivate someone to work out and create engaged and loyal members? By evaluating your approach to member motivation and engagement, you can begin to implement the best strategy that drives results. Improving member motivation supports your overall member retention strategy.
In this article, we try to understand what stands in the way of member motivation and some ideas to motivate your members year-round.
Skip ahead to:
- Member retention, engagement, and motivation
- The problem with motivation
- What are the biggest obstacles to workout motivation?
- 10 ideas to motivate members to work out year-round
Member retention, engagement, and motivation
It’s shocking that half of gym members quit within the first six months. Factors like gym equipment, positive interactions, and location all play a big role in whether gym-goers continue their membership after the dreaded six-month mark.
Member retention, engagement, and motivation are very much intertwined. Often, your member engagement strategy involves methods to increase motivation, which then circles back to supporting your member retention. When the January rush strikes, you have an influx of new members that practically motivate themselves. But what about those quiet times? It’s important to think about how you can motivate members after the January rush, before Christmas, or that strange time between fall and winter. All those cold nights and shorter days can really zap any fitness motivation a person has left.
It’s easier for members to fall through the cracks at these quieter times of the year. But for members to see results, they need to be consistent. Consistency and motivation go hand in hand. As motivation begins to tail off, consistency ends, and you stop seeing results. Member retention is a huge focus for gym owners and an ongoing struggle.
The problem with motivation
When you think about a time of year that naturally incites some motivation, it’s New Year. Statistics show that the most popular resolution for 2021 was “doing more exercise or improving my fitness”, followed by losing weight. New Year’s resolutions don’t tend to change; they usually focus on wellness, health, and happiness. But only a small fraction of people who make a New Year’s resolution actually stick to it. Sometimes the January excitement of a new year and motivation to work out drops and life gets in the way of a previous healthy lifestyle promise.
The problem with waiting for motivation is that it sounds like something that will magically strike at any time. But this really isn’t the case. It’s entirely normal to experience motivation in ebbs and flows in all areas of life including your work or fitness routine. It’s common to lose motivation to work out. Even getting off the couch can start to feel like the hardest thing to do.
Taking action can inspire motivation. So, the key is to find a way for members to take action in the hopes that the motivation will follow as a result. By taking action and being consistent, members can start to see results which increases motivation to keep going. It’s a circle of encouragement and action. As a fitness expert and gym owner, it’s your job to create an environment that makes action easy. By giving your members the tools they need, proper encouragement, and creating accountability, you can promote action and keep motivations levels high.
What are the biggest obstacles to workout motivation?
By understanding some of the biggest obstacles to working out, you can begin to think about how you can approach your member’s motivation. Some of the most common barriers to exercise include:
- Too tired
- Not convenient
- Sedentary lifestyles and jobs
In addition, the pandemic has brought new obstacles to fitness in the form of multiple lockdowns. Although the world is opening up again with fitness businesses running, lockdowns majorly restricted access to fitness facilities. Those who are vulnerable, nervous, or shielding due to health conditions are still facing accessibility challenges.
Another element that can stand in the way of working out is being overweight or unfit. When people feel uncomfortable or intimidated in a gym environment, it can make them feel like they stand out in a gym. While customers sign up for a membership with the best intentions, finding a way to make them feel comfortable and included is crucial.
As well as physical elements like cost and location, there are mental barriers that stand in the way of a person working out. Exercise boredom, confusion, and fear can all decrease any motivation left. Educating, inspiring, and supporting members is essential to tackling any workout confusion and boosting member confidence.
10 ideas to motivate members to work out year-round
The best way to keep member motivation high will depend on a few different factors like your type of business and clientele. Having a good understanding of your membership base will help you to tweak and adopt the right strategies for member motivation. Here are ten ideas you can easily implement to motivate members year-round, even during those quieter weeks.
1. Make exercise as accessible as possible
In terms of your experience and service, there should be no barrier between members and exercise. Your app, website, and any other channels should be simple to use and navigate, making exercise as accessible as possible. Whether customers come to you for cardio, aerobic, Pilates, or even martial arts, it should be super accessible. A digital fitness platform alongside your in-person services caters to both the home workout audience as well as members who want complete convenience.
2. Create accountability
Research shows that people who train alone quit after eight weeks. An accountability partner is someone who supports, encourages, and holds a person responsible for their actions. They check in and keep track of progress to help a person reach their long-term goals. As a fitness business, you can create accountability for your members. Be an accountability partner or workout buddy for your members both online and offline. Whether that’s a weekly check-in and regular follow-ups, or using fitness apps to track certain fitness metrics, you can increase workout accountability for your gym members and encourage more regular physical activity.
3. Build personalized workout routines
Help members hit their goals by building personalized workout routines to follow. Often, when someone signs up for a gym membership, they are looking to achieve certain goals. Whether they want to lose weight, get fitter, or beat a personal best, you can help members to hit those goals. A personalized workout routine and access to personal trainer services can be very helpful, especially for members who are new to fitness. This is something that you can offer throughout the member lifecycle, not just during the onboarding process.
4. Set up a rewards program
A gym rewards program is a great way to engage and motivate members. You are also rewarding your members for their loyalty at the same time. Many businesses tend to reward customers for spending money. For a fitness business, you can reward members for a certain number of gym visits, fitness classes streamed, or targets hit. You can track rewards using either a points scheme, challenges, or punch card. Your incentives and how you track rewards will depend on the type of business you have and your existing clientele.
5. Make member fitness goals
One study found that people who set intrinsic goals have higher levels of enjoyment and lower levels of tension than those who set extrinsic goals. The group with intrinsic goals stuck to their workouts longer in comparison to those with extrinsic goals. Intrinsic goals relate to yourself like personal growth. Extrinsic goals are related to an external influencer like money or status. Help your members to determine goals based on intrinsic value. When it comes to goal setting, it should be a challenge yet realistic. Set goals that are achievable and drive member motivation.
6. Track member fitness progress
Tracking the performance of your members shows regular progress, which helps to boost motivation. When you look at yourself in the mirror every day, it’s difficult to see progress. But when you look at a photo or metrics from six months ago, you can usually see progress. Tracking progress also holds members accountable as they want to improve and get better and feel like someone is holding them responsible. If you want to boost exercise motivation, tracking progress is key.
7. Run fitness challenges
Fitness challenges aren’t anything new but are still a great way to motivate members. You have the option to run in-person or online events, depending on your business. Sometimes a good bit of friendly competition and challenge can be just what members need to feel that push. With fitness challenges, you can run themed experiences throughout the year. It can be as simple as a four-week plank challenge to a two-month weight loss challenge. Track member progress and make it easy for clients to access challenge results.
8. Highlight member efforts
Celebrate accomplishments and highlight your members’ hard work. Whether it’s hitting a new personal best or completing their 20th bodyweight fitness class, you can celebrate milestones and show your members how much you appreciate them. Recognize both existing and new members to increase engagement and motivation. It’s easy to focus on attracting new members to your business, but don’t forget to celebrate your existing membership base and make them feel special.
9. Plan special and unique workout classes
Sometimes a major obstacle to regular exercise is boredom. Bring in special fitness professionals and instructors for one-off sessions and create unique workout classes that even push members out of their comfort zone. Try to promote your classes ahead of time on social media, and even give early access to members who are lacking motivation. For instance, if one of your regulars stops coming to visit you, special access to a fun workout class may be just what they need to come back. Fight workout boredom, raise some endorphins and mix up your training for members.
10. Run fun themed classes and events all year
Naturally, throughout the year there are times that are busier. Your New Year’s exercise program and summer spin classes may be more popular than your February training sessions. Think about how you can run themed classes and events to keep the excitement up throughout the year. There’s no need to only stick to holiday-themed classes. Consider fun themes your members would love. For example, an 80s themed workout class, or superhero-themed Zumba session. You can make fitness exciting by tapping into your members’ other interests. Events like healthy eating hacks, beginner fitness workshops, and a meditation evening are great ways to keep the connection open between your members.
Finding effective ways to motivate members stems from a deep understanding of your clientele. Continue to ask questions and feedback from your customers, so that you can create an engagement strategy based on your target audience. Increasing accountability, combatting workout boredom, and running fitness challenges are all useful ways to keep motivation levels high and engage members. Customers who are happy and seeing results tend to be more engaged and loyal to your business. It’s completely normal for motivation levels to ebb and flow throughout the year. But by creating a year-round strategy, you can deliver the kind of experience to motivate members throughout their membership lifecycle.