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    Acquisition & retention

    Maximizing Member Loyalty: 5 Operator Tips

    Loyal members aren’t guaranteed – but by standing out from the crowd, operators can boost their chances of keeping them for longer. Check out these five tips for keeping members engaged and addicted to your club.


    Once you attract new members, how do you ensure you keep them? Many clubs focus on the sale and then assume the member will be fine left to their own devices. Little wonder then, that 50% of new gym members quit within six months (IHRSA, 2020).

    Modern members – particularly young people just beginning their fitness journey – seek choice, but often don’t know where to start in the gym, particularly in the face of intimidating weight-based equipment. With this in mind, a rigorous onboarding process is crucial to their long-term success – and that of your club. Curating an in-club experience that supports new members’ confidence will kickstart the all-important element of routine. Make sure your team is primed to nurture new starters and check in with them as they arrive at the club and leave. And if they’re not already working out with friends, consider ways to help them make new ones.

    “Nobody ever left a gym because they had too many friends,” says Ish Cheyne – Head of Fitness at the 12-strong Les Mills New Zealand (LMNZ) chain of clubs, where group fitness typically accounts for 50% of overall gym attendances. “So whether it’s allowing new members to bring a friend for free for a week, encouraging people to join as a group, or steering new members towards the ready-made community of the group training studio, do everything you can to help members develop friendships within the club.”

    “This not only makes the experience more fun for new members – and therefore something they’re more likely to repeat – but it also creates multiple points of contact for them in the club, meaning they’ll be missed if they don’t attend.”


    Providing members and prospects with a place to sweat is just the beginning for your facility. Building a community, where members truly feel a part of something, is what keeps them coming back - and one of the best ways to show your club at its lively best is through events and challenges.

    Events are a dynamite way to create excitement among members and Instructors, as well as to attract new members through your doors and drive revenue.

    One option could be to follow the lead of the JCC in Bridgewater, New Jersey, a club driving strong growth through a focus on in-club events that emphasize the social elements of their offering.

    “Things like our quarterly Les Mills launches are calendar mainstays that help light a fire under our timetable,” says Fitness Director Jess Kichura. “We’re always striving to add personal touches to our events and marketing that evoke strong emotions and show our members we truly care through action rather than words.”

    Baltimore-based Brick Bodies are creating highly engaged members with challenges, using the power of social media and incentives to keep their studios packed out. “We give a shout-out on social media to our most engaged riders at the end of each challenge”, says Group Exercise Director, Sara Keller. “During the Tour de France, we did a ‘Tour de Shift’ (Shift is the name of our studio) and if you take 12 rides during July, you get a T-shirt. We’re being really intentional about encouraging members to keep up habits. For some, it’s easy and they don’t need the motivation, but for those people who are less certain, challenges are a great way to add encouragement and keep people accountable. It’s amazing what people will do for a T-shirt!”




    Nothing dents the determination of your new joiners like a long queue for equipment. Easing the pressure and managing footfall requires funneling members into other areas of your club where you can service more of them simultaneously.

    By signposting members from gym floor pinch points like the squat rack and bench press over to the studio, operators can 10X the number of members they can cater to at one time, while reaping all the resultant retention benefits of group training.

    The gym floor traffic looks set to last as building muscle continues to be a focus for members. The antidote is a solid mix of strength-based classes on your timetable that can support regular lifters and newbies alike.

    Designed to help members and prospects improve their power, learn correct technique and build their overall confidence – both in the studio and on the gym floor – programs like STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT can support these goals.

    Ben Edwards, National Health & Fitness Manager for Village Gyms, is rolling STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT out across his estate. Pilot sessions revealed those who had previously avoided using weights discovered a sense of renewed enthusiasm for strength training.

    “We achieved a 95% average class occupancy at our best-performing club, despite trying out some unusual time slots,” says Ben. “There’s nothing like Strength Development on the market right now – it's a great way to attract Gen Z with a red-hot trend.”


    We’ve entered the age of Omnifitness, where members expect to find fitness solutions everywhere, through all channels. 55% of Gen Z spend more than five hours a day online, so having a high-class digital presence can help clubs win new fans online, build brand affinity, and eventually convert them to becoming full members of the club.

    According to the 2021 Global Fitness Report, 65% of prospects say the availability of high-quality live or virtual classes would encourage them to join a facility. Meanwhile, 35% of Americans started going to an in-person fitness class they first discovered online. With this in mind, showcasing engaging digital fitness experiences through your club’s social media profiles and other owned channels is essential for catching the attention of gym prospects who are scoping the market.

    Gold’s Gym is one such operator reacting to the digital demand. Don Murphy, owner of New York’s Middletown and Newburgh facilities explains: “When people come into our facilities now, we're not only able to show them all the services, programs and amenities we offer in-club, we're also able to showcase our digital streaming solution that they can follow at home on their phone and TV. It just takes the value proposition to a whole new level, particularly if we can show that we’re digitally savvy and providing a completely connected member experience.


    #FitTok trends like ‘Cosy Cardio’ and other social media-originated workouts are now a fixture of the fitness landscape. So creating (and publicizing) a member experience that reflects fun and engagement is key to positioning your club as the natural next step for fitness fans.

    Offering an exciting mix of ways to work out is particularly important for winning younger members – 64% of Gen Z exercisers love to choose different workouts and discover new ones. So catching (and holding) the attention of this hard-to-reach cohort requires you to keep them guessing by regularly offering up fresh and exciting ways to work out. It takes some work, but this can also be a great way to generate extra revenue.

    “We offer LES MILLS STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT as an exclusive 12-week program, which you purchase (for €249) on top of your membership fees,” says Scott Elder, founder of Lifestyle & Health Club Magic.

    “Strength Development delivers on improving strength and gives members an excellent grounding for when they’re ready to move on to free weights. It’s also a great add-on for the club, building a buzz among members and generating more revenue."