10 Ways to Increase Gym Member Retention

Published on: 
08 December 19
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11 min read

About half of people who start an exercise program will drop out in the first six months. Gym membership retention statistics show that the retention rate for fitness studios is 75.9%, with boutique studios retaining more members than traditional health clubs.  

You have members that seem to enjoy your gym and services but, how do you get them to stick around? It’s a question that many people are faced in the fitness industry. By increasing your retention rates, you can increase your revenue. In order to do this, you need to understand why members leave in the first place. In this article, we will talk about the importance of member retention and the strategies you can use to boost gym member retention. 

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The Importance of Member Retention

A strong and loyal membership base is great for business. If you take a look at your bank account, you will probably find that a significant chunk of your revenue comes from your membership fees. Of course, you may have additional streams of revenue like retail or personal training sessions but, in general, membership fees tend to form the basis of a gym. 

fitness studio member retention stat

Member fees are an essential part of your gym’s revenue and success. Every year, the average health club will lose 40% of its members. You might think as members leave, new members will arrive, however, there is no guarantee that this will happen. Therefore, it’s absolutely crucial to nurture your existing membership base and increase gym member retention. 

3 Reasons Why Members Quit the Gym 

After a few months of signing up for the gym, it’s common for members to fall off the workout bandwagon and stop turning up to the gym. Obviously, this isn’t ideal for membership-based businesses like gyms. By understanding why members leave in the first place, you can implement the right member retention strategies to reduce member churn and increase retention. 

1. Unrealistic Goals

Many members set very unrealistic goals and are disappointed when they haven’t hit them. They might not be anywhere close to them after a few months of hard work. Without the right program, they are setting themselves up for failure. The result is an unhappy member on the brink of quitting the gym. 

To solve this problem, help members create realistic goals during their onboarding program. Make sure to check back in with them every quarter to be sure they are on track and are setting realistic goals. Members with realistic goals are more likely to stick around as they are seeing measurable success in their fitness. 

2. Not Held Accountable 

If your members aren’t being held accountable or working toward a specific goal, your members will quit once the buzz of joining a new gym wears off. You can see this in New Years Resolutioners. 73% of people who set fitness goals as a New Years resolution, give them up. 

Sometimes the gym can feel like a chore. When it’s cold and wet outside, the last thing you want to do is hit the gym. Keep members accountable by tracking their performance. Implement gym member management software with performance tracking to make it easy for members to track their own progress and hold them accountable.  

3. No Engagement 

Engagement is key to member retention. If your members aren’t engaged with you, your business, or your classes, they’re more likely to quit. Member needs vary from one person to another. There are several things you can do to improve gym member engagement like communicating more with your members, track member performance and results, and build group exercise programs. 

How to Increase Gym Member Retention 

Gym member retention is at the core of gym management. It’s an ongoing process to keep members engaged, paying and preventing member churn. Here are 10 strategies you can use to increase gym member retention, increase revenue, and drive engagement. 

fitness goals stat

1. The Best Member Onboarding Program 

Your lead has become a fully-fledged member. Now, it’s time to solidify your relationship and provide them with all the information they need. Personalized onboarding can increase retention by 75%. The first few months of membership are crucial, so you want to get it right. Focus on creating the best member onboarding program. After all, this is one of the first impressions your member will have directly with you. 

Educate new members and reinforce that they have made the best decision by signing up for your gym. Give them the opportunity to connect with other members in your gym community and track and measure their success. Remember to check-in frequently during the first six months so you can help out if needed.  

2. Create a Community 

A gym community can do wonders for member retention. In a study by Nielsen Group, 36% of people who exercise prefer to exercise in groups or classes. Organizing events and workouts that encourage a sense of community is a fantastic place to start. Increase retention by encouraging members to compete against each other in competitions, and launch group training exercises and classes. 

Group training helps to fast track community building and help gym-goers to connect with one another. If you don’t already offer group training, there are numerous reasons why you should start. Group training means you can offer affordable fitness instruction with high-quality instructors, increase motivation, and improve member retention.   

3. Set Realistic Goals and Show Progress 

Setting unrealistic goals and not seeing results can be one of the top reasons a member quits the gym. Every member has a reason they joined the gym or a goal. Help them keep track of their milestones and track their progress. Whether they want to lose weight, build muscle or just improve their overall fitness, you can easily track these metrics and help clients to meet their goals. 

The Gym Owner Podcast has a brilliant episode on retention. In the episode, Keepme.AI The New Retention Winner, the founder of Keepme, Ian Mullane talks about using AI-powered technology to specifically address gym member retention. Mullane discusses the current state of member retention in the fitness industry and how a number of businesses neglect to address it, despite losing 40% of customers every year. 

4. Personalize Members’ Experience 

One way to make your members’ feel valued and appreciated is to personalize their experience. Make your members feel like they have been personally taken care of. Personalization has a place in all areas of the business from your marketing to your customer service. Some brands have experienced an 8x improvement in their click-through rates when sending out a personalized video compared to their standard email marketing campaign.  

In order to deliver a meaningful and personalized experience, you need to know as much as you can about your members. This is where you can use your member data and audience research. By personalizing your members’ experience, you can make them feel like a priority during every visit. This is perhaps one of the best strategies to take in order to retain members for longer.  

5. Encourage Feedback and Reviews 

Feedback and reviews serve multiple purposes. By encouraging regular feedback and reviews, you can find out if there’s something your members aren’t happy with. Maybe they want more class variety or there might be a problem with your facilities. Whatever the case may be, regular feedback gives you the chance to intervene at an early stage, fix the problems and increase member retention. 

Reviews are also a great way to show potential members and clients how great your gym is. Facebook and Google reviews are helpful for local SEO and raising brand awareness in your area. Reviews offer proof that your business, services or products are worth investing in and help to build trust between you and your clients. 

6. Stay in Touch 

It’s important to stay in touch with your gym members. Communication can impact member retention. Strong communication can build solid relationships and boost your brand. Make sure to look after your existing members and show how much you appreciate them. When your existing members are happy, you will have a good membership base of which your business can grow from.

Your gym members are valuable assets and should be treated as such. When members feel valued they are more likely to remain loyal to you and the business. Regular communication also highlights your brand, increases word of mouth marketing, wins back at-risk members, and builds relationships.  

7. Target the Right People at the Right Time 

This strategy ties in with the previous point, communication. Staying in touch with members is essential but, staying in touch with the right members at the right time can go along way in terms of retaining members. By encompassing a few different elements like personalization, communication, feedback, and tracking attendance, you can pinpoint the people on the verge of quitting. 

A simple personalized message sent at the right time could be the difference between a member quitting and staying. Perhaps they aren’t feeling motivated or have had a couple of cheat days and missed their regular Wednesday HIIT class. This is your chance to offer a free personal training session or workout program to get them back on track and hitting targets. 

8. Keep Track of Member Attendance 

One way to keep on top of retention is to watch member attendance. Scrutinize your weekly attendance so you can step in if needed. One of the first signs a member is thinking about leaving is poor weekly attendance. If you have a regular gym-goer that’s always at the gym at least three times a week and all of a sudden you haven’t seen them for two weeks, it’s time to check-in. 

Use member attendance to identify high-risk members. Have strategies in place to contact low-attendance members and reduce the risk of churn. Try offering discounted personal training sessions or workout programs designed to get members motivated and focused on their fitness. The key to implementing the right strategy is being able to access attendance data easily. 

9. Make it Easy to Manage Memberships 

Anything that is complicated and difficult to use can affect member retention. Membership management software allows your business to manage members, marketing, and organize events. Your gym management software should make it easy for members to manage their own memberships. It should be simple to book classes, manage membership renewal, and pay for any services you offer. 

If you’re looking to upgrade your existing software solution or implement a completely new management system, we’ve put together a guide to help you choose the best member management software. Features to look out for include a streamlined dashboard, membership management, analysis and real-time reporting, and a branded mobile app.   

10. Show Personality

Although you’re running a business, you’re constantly interacting with people. Members want to interact with a person who cares about them. Websites tend to be formal with a well-crafted call to action. One way to showcase personality is through blogs and social profiles. This provides a great opportunity to show off your brand’s personality. Personality can help to keep members loyal while creating meaningful connections.

Use your marketing channels to spread your values, talk about what motivates you and drives your passion. When you speak to your members online, use the same language that you would use if you were talking in real life. You want members to feel like there is a genuine connection between you. 

In Summary 

Figuring out how to bring in new members and retain them can be one of the most frustrating things for professionals in the fitness industry. After all, increasing retention rates is a sure way to boost revenue. By understanding the reasons why your members might leave in the first place, you can implement strategies to identify high-risk members and put processes in place to improve gym member retention.  

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