There are two parts to a successful gym growth strategy: Member acquisition and member retention. A lot of gym owners focus solely on gaining new members, and overlook the cost of losing current members.
The trick is to make sure your total member change is net positive each month. That means you want to bring in more clients than you’re losing. Most likely, your core clients or founding members are sticking around. But sometimes you don’t have any control over what happens in peoples’ lives. They move. They lose their jobs. These are things you can’t predict or do anything about. The key is to focus on what you can control.
Here are three tips to increase member retention at your gym:
1. Provide Consistent Variety.
Variety is the spice of life for a reason. Don’t be afraid to mix things up! People pay for a professional, reliable experience at your gym. But that doesn’t mean it always has to be the same experience. They want to know what to expect and you can still deliver that. They expect clean bathrooms. Done. They expect professional coaches. Got it.
When it comes to the workout itself, get creative! Change up the warm-up or cool-down by letting different coaches come up with fun relays, games or stretches. If the weather is nice, take the workout outside. Expand your normal training options to include new things like odd objects or non-traditional movements. Even a new playlist can make the workout feel more exciting.
Create consistency in the experience and variety in the workout. This adds an extra layer of fun and motivation for your long-term members.
2. Strengthen Your Community.
As gym owners, we know that community is everything. You want your members to feel like they belong to something. There are a ton of ways to build a stronger community. Your member retention, experience - and the growth of your gym - depends on it. The more connected people feel, the less likely they are to leave your gym.
Here are some quick ideas to strengthen your community:
- Do things outside of the gym as a group on a regular basis. Community events are a great way for members to meet others outside of the normal time they work out. You can host game nights, go to sporting events, do a guys/ladies night, etc. Find out what your members are interested in, then plan an event around that.
- Create “member spotlights.” Highlight an individual who has been standing out in some way. It could be for consistency in class attendance or athletic improvements. It could also be a way to showcase an encouraging gym culture. Highlight members who constantly cheer others on and support them in class.
- Post a goals and/or personal records board. Have them choose a short-term goal and a long-term one. The benefits are two-fold: They’re holding themselves accountable and declaring it to their community. Once the goals are accomplished, it’s PR city! Have them record their accomplishments on the PR board so everyone can celebrate.
3. Create An Epic Gym Challenge.
In the same way that a 5k or marathon motivates a runner to keep pounding the pavement, challenges are great for gyms. There are lots of creative ways to motivate your gym members with fun incentives and challenges.
One of our favorites is the Fantasy Gym League. This one is fun and helps with member retention, especially in the winter months. We recommend you run it for 90 days.
Start by gathering your coaches for the draft. If you have five coaches, you’ll have five teams. Coaches take turns drafting members for their team from the list of participating members. Note: Points aren’t based on best athletic performance so all athletes will feel welcome and challenged.
Members can do something each day to score points for their team. Each action was tied to a certain number of points. Options include everything from attending a class to posting on social media. Members could write a Google or Facebook review, refer a friend, hit a PR, etc. Get creative in your gym because the possibilities are endless. Be sure to make the points value correlate to the difficulty of the action.
Monthly Team Challenge
Post a different challenge each month, to be completed together as “extra credit” outside of class. Remember, a big part of member retention is connecting the community. Each member contributes to the challenge as often as possible, accumulating points for their team. At the end of the month, the team with the most points wins.
Here are some fun ideas to total up:
- Meters on a rower, bike or ski erg
- Distance ran or walked
- Nutrition (i.e. veggies with a meal)
- Meters to drag or push a sled
- Kettlebell swings
Game Day Saturdays
Throughout the length of the fantasy league, host one or two in-house competitions called Gameday Saturdays. Have an RX and Scaled division so that all members are able to participate. Incorporate the movements you’ve been working on in class and add some fun “floater” workouts too. Encourage camaraderie and teamwork. Prizes can be anything from gym bragging rights to fun swag.
In Summary: Variety. Community. Challenges.
Member retention is equally as important as member acquisition for your gym. Focus on the things that keep your members consistent and hyped up. Variety is a great motivator and community is the ultimate retention tool. Finally, throw in some creative challenges. Give your customers the ultimate experience. They’ll reward you with loyalty and stick around for years to come.