The answer is motivation. People hope and expect that in a club environment, they’ll be inspired and able to achieve more than they can on their own. That means motivation is the secret to your success as a fitness business.
Why motivation matters
One of the most powerful motivators is to make exercise social. Getting people working out together builds strong exercise adherence. Why? Because we are social animals.
After 40 years of experimenting with all kinds of motivational tools in our own family gym chain, we’ve learnt that the activity that works best is group exercise. That’s why we started our global group exercise business: it is the most effective way to get the maximum number of people exercising regularly.
Motivation matters because it drives attendance, and I believe that attendance is the most important metric in any club. Focusing on sales only yields short-term success, unless you also have good retention. Our research has shown conclusively that attendance is the key measure that drives retention. It’s as simple as it is obvious: members who come often are much less likely to cancel. In fact, attendance also drives sales, via increased word-of-mouth referrals.
Even the most successful facilities drive perhaps 10% of their attendance through personal training and 3% to 4% through small-group training. On the other hand, facilities with even moderately successful group exercise programs achieve 30% of total visits for group exercise, and up to 50% and more in some cases.
What motivates people most?
Just as important as these overall numbers, excellent group exercise gets individuals coming more often. Our independent research commissioned from companies like Nielsen consistently finds that people attending group exercise classes use their facility more than three times per week, compared with industry averages between one and two times per week.
In short, group-exercise members attend more often, have higher retention, generate more referrals and won’t leave your facility for a budget club down the road.
The same research shows that facilities with world-class group exercise have 500 more members per club than the global average - something we call the Group Effect.
Building group appeal
Here are some of the things you can do to build a great group exercise program:
- Recruit and develop great instructors. A single great teacher will attract and retain hundreds of members to a club over time.
- Support your teachers with a great training and development plan.
- Work with your instructors to set attendance goals for each of their classes. Publish a scorecard of class sizes with recognition and reward for the biggest classes, fastest-growing classes and so on.
- Promote individual classes among members, and spice this up by regularly offering new classes. The latter can be popular branded classes or can be new classes your teachers create in-house.
It’s always an important decision whether to develop your classes in-house or to invite a third-party partner to help. Perhaps you already have a great group exercise offering. How would you know? I encourage you to ask yourself some questions.
- Do you count your weekly group attendances and benchmark them against industry standards?
- Do you design your timetable to maximize attendance and minimize cost per head?
- Do your teachers use the best choreography and the most popular music? Is the music legally licensed in all respects?
- Do you benchmark your instructors against the world’s best and provide inspirational training and development to grow their skills?
- Do your members regularly refer their friends to classes and do you have an integrated sales and marketing system that promotes your group ex program for greater membership sales and retention?
We encourage you to have a look at your group exercise offering. If it’s not yet at world-class standard, an upgrade might transform your facility and your community.