How to Increase Gym Membership Retention: Top Tips to Boost Member Engagement and Create a Thriving Fitness Community
Keeping Your Members Engaged is the Key to Increase Gym Membership Retention
Membership retention is a critical metric for any gym or studio; it’s a well-documented challenge for gym owners and operators as well as a leading indicator of whether your fitness business is likely to be successful.
High member churn, especially amongst new gym members, is a somewhat accepted industry norm. However, there are actions you can take that will help retain members and make a huge difference to your bottom line.
So, what’s the secret to membership retention, you might ask? Creating a highly engaged gym community.
So, how does higher engagement help to increase gym member retention?
In our blog The 5 Best Gym Member Retention Strategies, we go into detail about the fact that it’s five times more expensive to convert new members than it is to keep existing members and that a mere 5% increase in your gym retention rate could increase your business’ profits by up to 95%.
Increase member retention and boost your gym’s success by building a strong gym community that keeps members engaged, motivated, and committed to their fitness goals. By fostering a supportive community, understanding your members’ health as it relates to their fitness goals, and highlighting the overall value of their gym membership, you can ensure their loyalty for years to come. Plus, loyal members are more likely to become powerful advocates for your gym, spreading the word among their friends (especially if you have a loyalty program), posting positive reviews, and contributing to your fitness business’s vision and values.
Relevant communication is crucial to making an impact on your members
When it comes to the gym experience, communication plays a vital role in keeping members engaged. However, not all communication is created equal. It’s the relevant and meaningful interactions that truly make a difference. To genuinely understand your members’ personal fitness goals and provide them with actionable insights to achieve them, you need to step up your communication game. How many times do gym members interact with the staff during their average session? If they’re lucky, they might get a simple “hello” and “goodbye” from someone at the front desk.
Contrast this with a staff that is on a first-name basis with your members, asking them about their individual fitness goals, and providing encouragement as they work towards them. If you’re an independent gym operator, exceptional customer service can be a powerful tool when competing with larger gyms. While some of your competitors may be able to offer more inexpensive memberships, they can’t compete with the individual, personalised service and attention that comes with a smaller, more intimate gym community.
Listening to member feedback is crucial to boosting your retention rates
Listening to feedback can be tough, but a negative review is often more helpful than a positive one. Negative reviews allow you to get specific about what issues are contributing to your gym membership cancellations and proactively fix them. Our recent survey results showed that 61% of the profitable gyms surveyed collect member feedback at least once per quarter, with 12% doing so monthly.
By engaging your members with feedback surveys, you demonstrate that you care about your member experience and are actively taking steps to fix issues specific to their personal needs. By sending members periodic surveys over regular intervals, you’ll also be building member feedback into habitual behaviour to keep them continually engaged over time.
An active social media presence will help to foster a sense of community among your members
One of the most successful member retention strategies gym owners can implement is to cultivate a thriving online community on social media. Not only is it low-cost, but it provides the opportunity to engage with your members beyond the four walls of your studio or gym. According to our recent survey, 86% of the gyms surveyed named social media as their primary way of communicating with members, with 76% of profitable gyms reporting that they have a strong social media presence.
Not only does social media offer the perfect opportunity for a two-way conversation with your members (especially with members who have headphones glued to their ears at all times), but it can also help to foster a sense of community by using things like Facebook groups, polls, and virtual challenges that give members the opportunity to interact with each other, as well as your brand.
People tend to stick around when they feel a part of something. By extending your community into the online space, you’re also extending your reach and increasing the opportunities to connect with different members and demographics. For example, someone in their twenties might be much more likely to engage with you via social media than in the gym, and vice versa for a member in their sixties. By offering multiple ways for members to connect with your staff, you’re creating more opportunities for your members to engage with your brand, even when they’re not physically present at your gym.
Personalising the member experience will add more value to your memberships
Connect with your gym members by creating personalised experiences relevant to their individual needs for maximum impact. When members feel like it’s all about them and how they benefit, they will be even more invested and engaged in your services. Personalised attention and customer service have the power to create a strong emotional response and establish a lasting connection.
For example, gyms that use BIA technology like Tanita, can give their members a Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), or the calories required to carry out fundamental life-sustaining functions. If a 30-year-old member is told that they have the metabolic rate of a 49-year-old, they don’t need to be a fitness expert to understand that they need more exercise and better nutrition. This kind of personalised information can be immediately understood and acted on. More importantly, because it’s personal to them and simple to grasp, it’s also highly likely to motivate them into action.
Building a strong community is essential to building member loyalty
Your gym members are much more likely to stay with your fitness club longer if they feel that they’re part of a thriving gym community. Combining your strong online presence with inclusive social events, member-focused celebrations, and loyalty programs will help build a unified gym community and make your club members feel valued and appreciated.
Fitness challenges, post-class social events, and celebrating members as they meet their fitness goals are all great ways to demonstrate a supportive culture of inclusivity and that you’re invested in your members’ success.
Ensure your gym members are given relevant health data
Post-COVID, 70% of the UK population report that they want to become healthier. However, what it actually means to “be healthy” can vary drastically from member to member and demographic to demographic. That’s why it’s crucial to identify what motivates your individual gym members and what metrics they use to define their health. After all, health data is only meaningful if it’s relevant.
For example, increased muscle mass might be more relevant to a performance athlete than a recent retiree who’s looking to lose a little weight to enjoy their retirement to the fullest. Focusing on a few simple, key health metrics will help your members understand, invest, and engage in their health.
Demonstrated value is more important than price when it comes to your memberships
Your members are likely to find a lack of value more off-putting than high prices. Capture the true value of your memberships by demonstrating that it’s not about price, it’s about solutions to their problems and benefits beyond just access to the free weights. Your members will be reluctant to cancel because they’ll realise they’re losing out on valuable solutions, not just ending a monthly payment.
Offering additional services like health measurements, observations, and tests (MOTs), nutrition programs, small group personal training, and online classes are all great ways to add value to your memberships and create loyal gym members.
If your gym offers membership tiers, make sure that your members are getting increasing levels of value as you upsell them more expensive memberships. It’s tempting to default to offering discounted memberships for new joiners. However, adding value to your membership tiers with things like free personal training sessions or group fitness classes can be just as effective if you’re looking to attract more members without sacrificing your revenue.
Build engagement by leveraging technology for your fitness business
If you want to ensure that your gym remains a successful business, no retention strategy would be complete without the use of technology to help you analyse your member retention rates, provide relevant health data, and maximise your member engagement.
A comprehensive gym management software like, ClubWise provides an all-in-one solution to help you manage the entire customer journey from generating new business and engaging your existing customers to analysing business performance and improving retention rates. For example, our FitSense mobile app has been engineered specifically to amplify engagement with features such as MyBody composition analysis, FitSense Rewards loyalty program, and automated marketing controls to help you personalise the member journey for each customer.