According to USA Today, approximately 67% of people don’t use their gym memberships. These people join your gym but don’t attend nor renew the memberships.
There can be many causes for this, such as the growth of at-home workout videos and a lack of motivation to exercise. But no matter the reason, lower engagement is bad for business.
We know how difficult it can be to run a health club and engage members as gym owners. The pandemic made it even more difficult as things went online, which was new for most businesses. According to IHRSA, approximately 22% of gyms closed down due to the effects of lockdowns.
If you’ve recently shifted your fitness studio to a hybrid setting, then this article will help you improve gym member engagement and share 13 practical ideas that you can quickly implement to see some great results.
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Why should gym member engagement be a priority?
The relationship between gym member engagement and retention rates is simple. The more engaged your members are, the higher your gym member retention will be. And more retention equals business growth.
People who join your fitness center do so because they want to get healthier, fitter, and engage in physical activity. But if many members are not attending your gym, that could be an indication of a problem in your operation or business model. And such situations can shut your fitness business down for good.
You should make gym member engagement a priority because your fitness studio can’t function without members. You hire employees based on the number of memberships sold and the expected number of members who will attend the classes.
Now, if people don’t engage and renew their memberships, then the salary you’re paying your employees is a waste. And without more membership, you might not be able to sustain your business for too long.
When people are engaged in your gym, they will likely talk about all your amazing features with their friends and co-workers as well. That could mean publicity and more walk-ins or new customers.
Gym member engagement ideas for hybrid settings
The fitness industry is highly competitive. If you want to increase member engagement, you have to provide unique incentives to stay interested in your gym.
For the most part, you can modify the same member engagement strategies that you used before the hybrid system to suit the online classes.
But if you don’t know how to or your current approaches aren’t working as well as you’d like them to, then here are 13 practical ideas that can improve your gym member engagement.
1. Engage on social media
People like to post their workouts on their stories on social media. You can re-share them on your brand account or comment encouraging words on their posts. Some gyms engage members with custom hashtags, so that’s a strategy you can try as well.
Try posting informational content, health tips, and updates about the gym member’s personal successes on your social media channels. You can also conduct live sessions and invite the members to join in and talk about the topic of the day.
2. Conduct fitness challenges
Fitness challenges can be anything you like. You can shape them around the type of gym you have. So, for example, if you run a CrossFit gym, you can conduct challenges such as the Tough Mudder. You can also hold 5K and 10K races or small-scale endurance challenges using machines inside the gym.
This also works for online fitness classes, especially group classes. Fitness challenges are a great way to get people back in the gym. You can set up at-home challenges such as creating a goal of doing a certain number of steps per day or pull-up challenges.
Your goal should be to get people to post updates on your app or website, or social media and encourage others to join in as well.
3. Utilize SMS marketing
Almost everyone these days has cell phones and text messaging services. You can send appointment reminders, promotional offers, and wishes or updates to your members via SMS. Just make sure that you have their permission first.
This is ideal because your members don’t need to download any app or log into your gym website to receive the notifications. It requires minimal effort on their part, and that’s what makes this so effective.
4. Hire the right staff members
This is an engagement strategy for both in-person and online classes. Personal trainers that can hype up their customers and motivate them to continue exercising are best for your gym.
Remote fitness classes require a different approach to interacting with the clients. So make sure that your instructors are well trained to engage with customers in a hybrid setting.
The staff has a major role in encouraging your customers to keep coming back to the gym.
5. Give away t-shirts and swag
Who doesn’t like fun swag? T-shirts, wristbands, and stickers might not move the needle too much, but it’s enough to get people excited. Offer these brand items to your customers when they finish a challenge or achieve a personal milestone or for New Year.
You can use different colors or special symbols for different categories of t-shirts. For example, you could use purple for the 5K runners and yellow for the 10K ones. So that when your members see someone else wearing the same gear, they can immediately feel a connection with them.
You can also include members who’ve won the t-shirts or merch in your newsletter if you have one.
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6. Offer personal training sessions
Individualized interactions can really make your customers feel seen. You can do that by addressing the customers by name and following up on their progress via email or gym management software.
That’s more important for online classes because it’s difficult to relate to a person via a screen.
If you can use data from fitness trackers, you might be able to improve the value of these interactions. When the numbers come in, even after the one-on-one session, send the member an encouraging message to show that you’re invested in their success.
7. Remind via push notifications
Push notifications are great to remind people to take action, whether to book a class or join the live session. You can personalize these and use the members’ first names so that they feel like you’re speaking to them directly.
These reminders are great because it’s short-form content and people tend to respond to them much quicker than an email.
8. Celebrate milestones
It can be a huge step for some people to get dressed and show up to the fitness class – either in person or online. So celebrating their wins can make an impact and create loyalty for your brand.
You should also celebrate your milestones as a business and conduct special classes or offer discounts. These milestones could be your gym anniversary, the launch of a new branch, or an accomplishment of a staff member or a trainer.
Celebrating the special moments with your club members shows them that you are much more than just a business. It can boost member engagement and keep people coming back to achieve more milestones. That’s also a great member retention strategy.
9. Use a mobile app to ease scheduling
A big reason for members not engaging with your gym could be that your scheduling system is difficult to use. That was true even before the pandemic, but now that your gym has a hybrid model, you can make this issue disappear by introducing an app.
Gym management software can also help you with scheduling. Both the trainer and the members can book classes with one tap on the screen. And receive periodic updates and reminders about it.
You can take it a step ahead and automate the scheduling so that the member can re-book the class with the same instructor or group every week without choosing again.
10. Offer benefits to loyal members
Shifting to a hybrid system can make things difficult for some long-term members who have gotten used to a routine of coming into the gym for exercising. You need to make sure that you don’t lose such members due to the changing system.
Offer your loyal customers a free upgrade for a week, bring in a family member for free for a day, access valuable resources and other benefits to keep them engaged, and show them that you care.
Your current members bringing in their friends or a family member for a session can be good for you as well. That session can be a demo for the new members and perhaps motivate them to buy a membership.
Be vocal about the hybrid system’s issues for your loyal members and address concerns thoughtfully to increase retention.
11. Prioritize customer experience
Try to offer unique features such as a smoothie bar or access to recorded sessions based on your customers’ needs. For some people, the gym is much more than a place for exercising. They come to experience, and doing extra small things can make a huge difference in customer engagement.
Maybe some members are not joining the fitness classes because they have to work at that time or because they moved to a different location and it’s night at the time of the class.
Offering access to pre-recorded classes can keep them engaged. They can check in with their personal trainers and ask questions later on if they need to.
12. Create a sense of community
It is relatively easier to feel that you’re a part of a community when your members can come to the gym in person. But this gets harder to do online.
A sense of community can keep people engaged much more than fancy equipment and great trainers.
So create a private Facebook group or hold weekly Zoom sessions to give your customers a place to interact with each other. That way, they can share stories and get advice from their friends and continue to be a part of a community.
13. Start a referral or affiliate program
Offer a commission for each referral that a member makes. That way, members will be more engaged in the classes and more interested in all your offers since they’ll promote your gym.
The gym member engagement strategies we’ve covered in this post can help you succeed in a hybrid gym setting. These tips work for fitness clubs of all sizes and types. So you can try them out if you’re a fitness studio, a yoga center, a CrossFit gym, or any other type of health and wellness center.
You can send push notifications and ease scheduling for your members by using gym membership software. Ours have many features such as management tools, sales tools, and member experience tools, to name a few.