Wellness Partners

Six Strategies to Increase Gym Membership Retention

Jun 21, 2023
Last Updated Jun 21, 2023

There are all kinds of reasons — and ways — people take up a more active lifestyle. Whether they’re thinking about their future health, trying to lose weight, or just want to boost their energy, there’s no shortage of motivation to lead them through your gym doors for the first time.

And once they’re finally there, it’s up to you to provide them with the kind of experience that keeps them coming back. Encouragement, community, class variety, the opportunity to improve their health and learn a fun new hobby…these are all things that can help boost your gym membership retention for the better while helping your client base thrive.

But what are the specific strategies that you can put in place to show your members that your gym, classes, or sessions are worth coming back to, again and again? This kind of membership retention matters, and there are tangible ways to boost your numbers.

What Does Membership Retention Mean For Your Gym or Fitness Business?

Membership retention refers to the ability of a gym, fitness studio, or personal trainer to maintain their existing customers over an extended period of time. It's a critical metric for measuring the overall success and growth of a fitness business, as it directly impacts revenue, profitability, and customer satisfaction. Even just a 5% increase in retention rates can increase profits anywhere from 25% to 95%, according to foundational research by Bain and Company.

Ensuring high membership retention rates is essential for gyms and studios, as acquiring new members can be much more expensive than retaining existing ones. Additionally, high retention rates can help build a loyal community of fitness enthusiasts who are more likely to refer friends and family to the business, further boosting growth and revenue. Ultimately, client retention is a key factor in establishing a successful and sustainable business that delivers long-term value to both the gym or trainer and their customers.

Some of the key benefits of maximizing your retention rate include:

  • Reducing acquisition costs.
  • Maximizing lifetime value of each customer.
  • Building a loyal community of fitness enthusiasts.
  • Increasing revenue and profitability.
  • Boosting growth through referrals and positive reviews.
  • Establishing a successful and sustainable fitness business.
  • Improving customer satisfaction and engagement.

What Are the Challenges of Retaining Clients?

Retaining clients can be tricky for gyms and fitness studios, especially in today's fast-paced and ever-changing fitness landscape. Common challenges that gyms face in keeping customers engaged and motivated include barriers like:

  • People giving up on their fitness goals: Many people struggle with staying consistent and committed to their fitness routines, leading them to drop out of their gym memberships altogether. If people set a new fitness goal as a New Year's resolution, for instance, the day they're most likely to drop out of it is January 19 — less than three weeks later — according to Strava. This can be due to a lack of motivation, time constraints, or other personal factors that make it difficult to maintain a regular workout schedule.
  • At-home workouts are on the rise: Think about the convenience of a Peloton workout right in your basement. Monthly consumer spending on connected fitness equipment like this has gone up about 5% throughout the pandemic, according to McKinsey research. This trend can make it challenging for gyms to retain clients who prefer the flexibility and convenience of working out at home.
  • People might feel discouraged by a lack of community at their gym: Fitness is not only about exercise — it is also about building a sense of community and belonging. When clients don't feel like they are part of a supportive and welcoming gym environment, they may become less engaged and motivated to continue their fitness journey.
  • They might encounter issues with their membership and pricing: Membership issues were the most common complaint associated with gym reviews, a U.K. analysis of gym data found. Complicated pricing structures, hidden fees, and inflexible membership options can all contribute to customer dissatisfaction and frustration.

Lack of classes on offer, overcrowding, equipment issues, and customer service were other common reasons why customers back out of their gym membership, according to the U.K. study.

Strategies for Improving Your Gym Membership Retention

Addressing the root causes of customer churn while prioritizing your clients’ needs and preferences can help any fitness businesses foster an enjoyable, engaging experience.

  1. Offer incentives for customers who maintain long-term memberships, such as discounts or free personal training sessions. By offering such incentives, gyms can show their appreciation for loyal customers and build a stronger relationship with them. Not only does this encourage customers to continue their membership, it also creates a positive association with the gym. Some ways to implement this strategy include offering discounts on monthly fees for members who have been with the gym for a certain amount of time, providing free personal training sessions for every year of membership, or even giving out exclusive merchandise or gift cards as a reward for loyalty.
  2. Create a sense of community by hosting events and activities that bring members together, like group workouts or competitions. Getting people together can foster a sense of belonging among members, creating positive, long-lasting relationships between them and the fitness center. Try hosting group workouts, fitness challenges, or even social events at your space like brunches or potlucks around holidays or other fun occasions.
  3. Use social media and email marketing to communicate regularly with members and keep them engaged with relevant content, updates, and promotions. Through social media, gyms and fitness centers can communicate regularly with their members and stay top-of-mind. Usepopular platforms like Instagram and TikTok, and send out monthly newsletters with updates on gym news, upcoming events, workout tips, and exclusive deals to encourage them to come in.
  4. Encourage members to set goals and track their progress by offering personalized fitness plans, tracking tools, and progress reports. You can help provide your clients with a sense of purpose and direction in their fitness journey — often the motivation they need to continue taking classes or working out. By helping members achieve their fitness goals and feel a sense of accomplishment, gyms and trainers can build stronger relationships with their customers and increase the likelihood of retaining them long-term. Integrate fitness apps into your routines and workouts to help clients track their progress, build motivation, and personalize goals.
  5. Offer a variety of classes and services that cater to different interests and fitness levels. Offering members various classes to choose from can help them explore new activities and find what works best for them. You'll cater to people with all different experience levels, backgrounds, and goals when it comes to their health and fitness, increasing your likelihood of retaining more customers. For instance, instead of just offering cardio and strength training, you could also offer yoga, dance, or cycling classes, or host a beginner’s workout challenge for anyone to get started.
  6. Be flexible in terms of membership options and pricing, offering options that cater to different budgets. Flexibility around pricing and membership options can help your clients choose what's best for their lifestyle and budget — encouraging them to stay with you over time. You can offer month-to-month memberships, subscriptions, class packs, and drop-in rates over more rigid structures. You can also offer discounts for different groups like students, seniors, or veterans.

Get More Members Through Your Doors — For Good

While these methods are all great ways to attract and retain new clients, you can also boost membership by shifting sights to a new audience: corporate workers. Corporate wellness budgets are increasing rapidly — about a 60% increase is expected through 2028, according to Grand View Research

This untapped market of employees is waiting to explore new gyms and fitness programs thanks to their companies’ wellness dollars and fitness reimbursements. Now is a great time to consider partnering with a corporate wellness program if you don’t already, and thinking about how you can best retain your corporate clients! 

For instance, you can try tailoring early morning or evening classes around a typical office schedule. Or start up a challenge geared towards remote workers to help them participate in the community, even if they’re competing on their own schedule.

Gympass offers you the chance to join a community of thousands of gyms, trainers, and other partners committed to making wellbeing universal. Learn more about how to join the network today so you can bring in more clients!

 

References

Falardeau, Eric, Glynn, John, and Ostromecka, Olga. (June 21, 2021.) Sweating for the fitness consumer. McKinsey. Retrieved June 2, 2023 from https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/consumer-packaged-goods/our-insights/sweating-for-the-fitness-consumer 

Gallo, Amy. (October 29, 2014.) The Value of Keeping the Right Customers. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved June 2, 2023 from https://hbr.org/2014/10/the-value-of-keeping-the-right-customers 

Garrett, Monica. (June 29, 2021.) Social Media Platforms For Fitness Marketing: How To Leverage The Power Of The Top 6 Channels. Margaux Agency. Retrieved June 2, 2023 from https://www.margauxagency.com/social-media-platforms-for-fitness-marketing-how-to-leverage-the-power-of-the-top-6-channels/ 

Karoll, Sam, (August 20, 2022.) Your Guide to Pricing Structures for Your CrossFit Affiliate Gym. PushPress. Retrieved June 2, 2023 from https://www.pushpress.com/blog/crossfit-affiliate-pricing-structure 

Noor Haq, Sana. (January 8. 2020.) This is the day you're most likely to let your New Year fitness goals slip. Runners’ World. Retrieved June 2, 2023 from https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/training/a776013/today-is-the-day-youre-most-likely-to-let-your-new-year-fitness-goals-slip/ 

Parren, Alexandra. (January 9, 2023.) Gym memberships could be on the decline, according to study. Women’s Running. Retrieved June 2, 2023 from https://www.womensrunning.co.uk/news/gym-memberships/ 


 


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Gympass Editorial Team

The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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