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How to Re-Engage Members Who Have Left Your Gym


Gyms and fitness studios were among the first businesses to close their doors in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In recent weeks, however, the gyms and studios around the world have begun to open up. In the US many states have included gyms in their first phases of reopening. The US government’s three-phase reopening plan, gyms will be among the first to open. 

While this is some good news in a year that has been really challenging for the fitness industry so far, there should be some caution. Despite the ability for gyms and studios to reopen, they need to operate under strict protocols of health, safety, and capacity. A recent CNBC article pointed out some of the dangers of reopening gyms, including epidemiologists’ concerns that the virus could return again.  

And, while some gym-goers are keen to return to the gym, others are much more worried about the risk working out indoors poses to their health and the spread of COVID-19. When re-engaging former members, it’s essential to create a multi-faceted marketing approach. This enables you to effectively speak to different types of people. 

With previous members experiencing mixed feelings about hitting the gym again, you need to be tactful in the way you reach out and engage with them. In this article, we will discuss the ways you can re-engage former members and how to market your gym strategically.  

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Why Your Business Needs a Multi-Pronged Marketing Approach

With gyms unable to provide the service members pay for, it’s not surprising that gyms are losing previously loyal members. With the reopening of the fitness industry on the horizon, it’s time to look at how you can re-engage those members and bring them back on board as paying members. 

A multi-pronged marketing approach is made up of several elements and is aimed at targeting different audiences through different mediums and channels. Effective marketing targets consumers who are actively interested in your service. You know former members are interested in what you have to offer. It’s not just about getting your message across. It’s about getting the right message in front of the right eyes. 

By adjusting your message and marketing for different types of people, you can communicate more effectively. This way, you’re more likely to re-engage former members and transition them back into an active part of your gym community. 

David Steel, Chief Viral Officer for social media marketing company explained why you need this multi-pronged marketing strategy in a recent Linkedin post. This will be looked at in more detail in the next part of this article. 

The 3 Types of People During Coronavirus 

Usually, when you talk about audience or gym member personas in relation to your business, you might think of groups like Millennials, over 70’s, yoga lovers, or social butterflies. You know your members and your target audience well. But you’re now having to market your services to people who are feeling differently during the pandemic. Coronavirus has affected the way people want to interact with your business.  

Some former members might have lost their job or can’t work right now because they or someone in their household is in a high-risk group. While some people can’t wait to hit the gym, others are understandably nervous. It’s these types of people that you need to figure out how to communicate and market your services to. You can categorize people into the following groups:

  • The “wait and see” type – these people are tentative about heading back to the gym but are waiting for more government advice and updates on a vaccine. 
  • The “can’t wait to go to the gym” type – these are members that are dying to get back in the gym. They are willing to adapt to whatever procedure necessary to get their sweat on. 
  • The “I prefer to exercise outside or at home” – if former members have jumped on the home workout bandwagon, these types of people are an excellent target for digital fitness services such as at-home fitness streaming and on-demand video subscriptions.

An excellent resource for gym owners is Glofox’s Fitness Founders Podcast. In a recent episode, Dr. Paul Bedford talks about the fundamentals of an exceptional retention strategy. Bedford is an expert on retention and founder of Retention Guru. The episode talks about how to create an engaging customer experience in a virtual setting.  

7 Ways to Re-Engage Former Gym Members 

It’s no surprise that gym member retention is a major concern for gym owners. When you compare the cost of acquiring a new member against retaining current members, it’s more expensive to bring in new members. Loyal members are truly valuable. The current circumstances may have led to your members ditching their membership. However, with the right tactics, you can market your services and re-engage former members. 

1. Communicate Regular Updates

It’s always worth keeping in touch with previous members. No matter the reason for leaving you. Reach out to former and current members and keep them updated regularly. No doubt, you’ve had to implement new procedures and precautions to keep members and employees safe. Communicate how you will make your gym safe for members to come back and the steps you’re taking.  

It’s during these sorts of updates, that you would approach members slightly differently. Whether you have lost members, or your current members are not engaging with you, you need to communicate your situation effectively. With members who are very excited to return to the gym, you would focus on information about your classes and expert instructors. Whereas, if members are more risk-averse, you would focus on messaging that emphasizes everything you’re doing to keep members safe now and in the future. That may be limiting class sizes, increased cleaning, protective screens between gym equipment, and PPE for your staff. 

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You’re looking to address any concerns and help ease worries as well as boost excitement. By taking a closer look at how members and prospects are feeling, you can adjust your marketing approach to re-engage members on a more personalized level. 

2. Add Value 

One of the biggest challenges the fitness sector has faced during the coronavirus pandemic is keeping members engaged. Once your members start to lose motivation and don’t engage with you anymore, it can be tough to get them back on board. Whether your business is completely shut, operating at a limited capacity, or gearing up to open, communication is clear. From delivering Instagram Live workouts to hosting YouTube Live meditation workshops, you can continue to engage and communicate with your members. 

One way to re-engage members is by providing a digital fitness offering. Anything that keeps your members active and moving, boosts engagement and motivation is a good idea. When members are seeing results, they will remain engaged. Add value to your gym by providing other ways to interact with your business such as live-streaming classes and on-demand video content. 

Remember that when choosing a gym, there’s more that goes into it than simply wanting to get stronger or fitter. Factors like cleanliness, sense of community, programming, and fun, all play a part in choosing and staying with a gym. Think about these factors when you’re adding value to your studio offerings. 

3. Be Flexible 

It’s important to be flexible in all aspects of your business. The ability to adapt and adjust is what makes businesses stand out or crumble. There is an inherent risk that comes with physically going to the gym. While some people will follow social distancing and handwashing guidelines, the risk itself may put some people off coming back to the gym altogether. 

While information surrounding the coronavirus continues to unfold, there will no doubt be new government guidelines and advice for businesses and individuals. If you can, offer a mixture of online and physical services. Many fitness businesses have been forced to go digital, practically overnight. On-demand and streaming video fitness platforms are ideal for those who love to work out from home and are more tentative about leaving their houses. Allow members the flexibility to subscribe to either your digital or physical membership until more active members feel comfortable going back to the gym. 

4. Be Proactive

A large part of engaging and retaining members goes down to the interactions you have with them. Be proactive and very responsive across all your social media platforms and communication channels. This is a time where members need fitness leadership and motivation. 

If you’ve taken a bit of a backstep, you have the opportunity to reach out to current and former members to find out what they need. You can only provide a solution when you know what the problem is. If your members don’t want online classes, what do they want? Maybe they would prefer individual online consultation and additional support. 

5. Promote New Instructors and Classes 

Now is the perfect time to bring on new instructors, workouts, and classes. For members who can’t wait to get back to the gym, promote your new services. While members that may be more worried, you can communicate your new offering with a focus on safety procedures. Things like wiping down equipment thoroughly between each use and outdoor workout classes are very important to communicate. 

When re-engaging with members, you’re looking to boost their motivation and give them a reason to be part of your fitness community. Whether it’s a new fitness challenge or a world-class instructor has joined your team, you want to get members excited and engaged with your brand. 

6. Personalized Workouts 

The coronavirus pandemic has caused many gym-goers to stop training. While some have mustered the motivation to keep working out, others have taken a more Netflix and chill avenue. If members have fallen off their fitness routine, help them get back on it. Just as you would a brand new member, personalized workouts are great to kickstart members’ motivation and give them a fresh beginning. 

A personalized workout program and nutrition plan will give members something to focus on and help them meet their goals. It will also give you a reason to keep checking in on them. Make sure to ask for regular updates and progress photos to share on social media. It’s important to highlight success and make your members feel appreciated. 

7. Personal Training 

Another way to re-engage gym members following COVID-19 is to offer a free personal training session. This may be in the form of virtual personal training or in-person once your gym reopens. By encouraging your members to engage with you and build their motivation, members will see value in your business. 

The Tribe Method Podcast has a great episode on reopening gyms. The episode talks about creating a plan for a safe return in a three-phase approach. Listen to industry leaders Jason Khalipa from NCFIT and Stu Brauer from Urban MVMNT discuss the decisions you need to make to reopen safely and smoothly to full capacity. 

In Summary 

By considering how you approach your members, you can look to re-engage people who may have left or are on the fence. Adapting your messaging and marketing approach to deliver the right message is key to winning back members. Not everyone is handling the current situation the same, you need to take this into consideration. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to re-engaging members. Take the time to reach out, engage, and personalize interactions to excite and motivate members to come back to the gym safely. 

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"I think Glofox speaks to lots of different fitness businesses. I looked at a few options, but the Glofox positioning was more flexible. Without it the business wouldn't be scaleable”
Mehdi Elaichouni
Owner at Carpe Diem BJJ

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