All gym operators or owners understand that member recruitment and retention is the key to success. With research showing that 50% of new gym members will drop out of a fitness regime within six months, the challenge of retention and recruitment becomes even harder1, putting huge pressure on sales and marketing teams.
So as an industry, how can we support our members to change their mindset from feeling they 'have to' workout to 'want to' workout? Surely this change in motivation would help solve our retention challenges?
Group fitness classes encourage regular exercise for those of your members who may not enjoy training on their own, or who want to combine it with other forms of exercise. With this in mind, class instructors bring a variety of differing approaches to engage with your members.
Have you ever wondered what the 'secret ingredient' is that causes certain group exercise classes to be fully booked, with members coming back for more week after week? Perhaps the class incorporates the latest immersive fitness trend, has the best music or gets unparalleled physical results. Although all of these factors contribute to member engagement within group fitness classes, our research shows that more often than not, it is the additional coaching skills and personality of the instructors that keeps them coming back for more.
We've all been to classes that just didn't meet the mark or chosen classes we normally wouldn't go to because we know our favourite instructor will be teaching. But why is this?
Many assume that the "no-pain / no-gain", controlling and pressurised approach to working out gets better physical results and in turn, leads to members coming back for more. But in fact the opposite appears to be true.
A recent study completed by Perth's Curtin University2 has found that instructors who use a 'motivationally adaptive' communication style are more successful in helping retain participants. So what does this mean in layman's terms?
This approach allows members to develop a personal connection with their instructor and helps support a mental change...
Compared with instructors who use a "no-pain / no-gain" teaching style, the motivationally adaptive communication style encourages participants by making them feel supported, cared for, respected and confident. This approach allows members to develop a personal connection with their instructor, and helps support a mental change to enable them to 'want to work out' versus 'having to'.
In addition to the physical and mental wellbeing attributed to exercise, if your instructors are encouraging class members in this manner, research shows they are much more likely to return, fall in love with fitness, and become a long-term member of your club.
Let’s also keep in mind that joining a group fitness class can be a really daunting for new and existing members. If member retention is important to you, the key things to remember to get more people to want to work out are to:
Motivate Your Team:
- Take time to select the right team members who mirror your mission and vision for your club
- Partner / work with instructors who use a motivationally adaptive communication style
- Provide regular training opportunities for your team that can be updated every year
Motivate Your Members:
- Speak to your members at their inductions, via keep in touch calls / emails and encourage them to trial a group fitness class based on their individual needs
- Offer a 'starter' class or invite members to attend half a class when first trialling group exercise to help create a positive introduction to the concept and with that, more confidence to keep going
- Ask for feedback from members who have attended a class for the first time to understand what they thought and if the experience wasn't positive for them, find out if a different class may suit them better. If they say it was too hard or not enjoyable, help them choose another class. This is your opportunity to help them start to love your club
- Regularly communicate via marketing campaigns in club, online (e.g. website, emails and social media), letting them know about new classes available and tailor these marketing activities for different member groups you've identified (age groups, interests etc.)
Motivational communication has long been an integral part of Les Mills instructor training. Our instructors receive in-depth educational sessions every 3 months. Partnering with us ensures that your instructors will be trained in a motivational communication style that will help increase class attendance and help you to retain members. If you'd like to learn more, we'd love to hear from you.