According to statistics, 42% of new members quit exercising within 30 days of joining; and 50% of new members with little to no exercise experience are at the highest risk of dropping out. Of all new members who leave 57.5% do so because of low added value and bad guidance and induction1.
Penn State Associate Professor of Kinesiology, Dr Jinger Gottschall says that a gradual buildup of intensity, and managing expectations, helps enjoyment and provides more realistic and achievable returns on new members’ physical fitness early on.
Giving new members an achievable plan for that first 12 weeks is crucial.
Helping people to stay motivated as they begin to exercise is a challenge. Most people will be focused on the aesthetic benefits, and can become demoralized when they don’t see changes straight away.
The following five benefits of exercise occur as soon as people start training. Focusing on these benefits at the start of their fitness journey can help them to cement their exercise habit.
1. Exercise reduces stress and alleviates anxiety
2. Exercise improves self-confidence
3. Exercise helps to control food addiction
4. Exercise increases our ability to relax
5. Exercise helps us get more done
Slowly introducing participants over a six week period, starting with partial workouts and gradually building up to full classes is recommended. Encouraging new people to leave after the first few tracks in a class is recommended. Even 20 minutes of moderate exercise can provide long-term health gains.
Ish Cheyne, Head of Fitness at Les Mills New Zealand, believes there are five key elements that support successful onboarding: Accountability, Frequency, Quality, Intensity and Event (for example, a half marathon or charity run they are aiming for) are all crucial building blocks for members.
The secret to looking after newcomers is to keep their confidence high:
- Allow your new members to manage both the duration and intensity of their training. Trying anything new can be intimidating, and the key to success is to start slow.
- Frequency before intensity. It’s important to just get people into the habit of exercising. People need options so they can tailor the workout to suit them.
- Celebrate the immediate wins - increased energy levels, feeling more positive, or the endorphin high you get straight after a workout.
Combining these three tools will reduce anxiety around exercise. It will increase people’s confidence and help them reach a stage where physical activity is a permanent feature in their lives. Instill confidence, give people control, and celebrate every small step of their journey to fitness.
The secret is to instill confidence, give people control, and celebrate every small step of their journey to fitness.