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Top reasons members quit the gym and how to overcome them

New members often start out on their fitness journey with great intentions. They have chosen to get active and healthy and on their mission to do so they have joined your club, this is great news. But now you have to keep them engaged. After all, the figures show if a member attends your club less than once a month they are at a very real risk of cancelling their membership1. The first three months really can be ‘make or break’. But it’s not all doom, gloom and uncertainty, lots of members join and remain a member for many years and for those who need a little extra help, we’ve put together a few tips below.

 

So, what are the main reasons a member cancels their membership?

1. No gym buddy

2. Lack of guidance

3. Feeling out of place

4. Feeling unsatisfied in terms of facilities

5. Overcrowding

6. Money

7. Losing motivation

8. Not seeing results quick enough

9. Health

10. Family/work obligations

11.Moving away

Now, quite a few of these reasons can be grouped together and targeted at the same time.

 

For example, numbers one, two and three.

These are all about making members feel comfortable and confident in your gym or club.

  • Offer a great referral scheme or regular benefits for working out with a friend. Alongside the added accountability of working out with a friend, a financial incentive or benefit can really encourage longevity.
  • For some, a workout buddy is just not an option, so group classes will be a great way for them to find their ‘fit’ within a gym environment. It’s really important to provide classes for all abilities and levels. Sometimes small class numbers can help members to bond and form lasting relationships. 
  • Above all else, your staff can make a huge difference to how welcomed and comfortable a member feels.

 

ClubWise Top Tip 

Promote your classes. Send out emails to certain types of members, eg women over 50. Target the right people with the right classes, to ensure maximum take-up. 

 

ClubWise Ideas

  • Set members of staff daily targets. For example, to introduce themselves to five people on the gym floor each day.
  • Introduce a ‘2 Minute Review’, this is a great way to get staff and members interacting, whilst maximising on time.
  • Hold a once a month ‘Results Day’ where all members are able to celebrate their progress and are offered a simple health MOT.

 

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How about reasons four, five and six?

These really are all about making your facility the best value for money it can be.

  • Regularly ask for feedback, face to face will often work for this, however, there may be some things your members would just prefer to say anonymously. A suggestion box in a changing room or communal area could work well for this or a simple email questionnaire.
  • Overcrowding and time spent waiting for machines will decrease a members’ satisfaction and increase their likely hood of leaving. With the average private gym having sixty-three stations, education can be a great tool. Instead of the majority of members waiting for the minority of machines, educate your members as to how to properly use all of your machines, therefore, reducing time spent waiting.
  • You can’t always stop a member from leaving, especially when reasons are financial. The best thing you can do is truly make your facility good value for money.

 

ClubWise Top Tip 

Make sure instructors understand the importance of not specifying machines for a warm up. For example, a recommended warm up could be 5mins on any cardio equipment rather than 5mins on a treadmill.

 

ClubWise Idea

Highlight the great results a member has already achieved whilst using your gym. Show them how to use more of your facilities to achieve even better results.  A bit of inspiration can invoke a lot of motivation!

 

Seven and eight

Encourage realistic and achievable goals.

  • When a member signs up it’s a great idea to help them set achievable goals. Not only will this give them something to work towards, it will also give them a way to judge their progress so far. This way goals are both realistic and measurable.

 

ClubWise Top Tip 

Offer regular reviews, these will allow members to really track their progress. After all, what better way is there to boost motivation, than seeing how well you have already done?

 

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Lastly, reasons nine, ten and eleven

Not all reasons can be overcome, but for most there can be a solution.

  • Sometimes people have to cancel their membership for reasons beyond their control, such as moving away or poor health. In these circumstances, the only thing to do is to cooperate and wish them well.
  • Other circumstances such as family commitments may make sticking to a regular schedule hard, if not impossible. It is important to highlight the flexibility that your services provide. For example, if you offer express classes or have nights with extended opening hours, make sure your members are made aware, after all, there is no point in offering great services if no-one knows about them!

 

ClubWise Top Tip 

Ask permission to keep ex-members on your mailing lists. People’s circumstances change regularly and when they do you want to be at the forefront of their mind.

 

Check out ClubWise’s Top Ten Tips For Member Retention

 

1 Dr Melvyn Hillsdon, Health Club Handbook 2016, Issue 1

 

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8 Comments

  1. Luke Smith

    I love your tip to provide a good referral scheme or benefits for bringing a friend to a workout! I know this article was written with gyms in mind, but I imagine that referral plan like that would be very helpful to almost any type of private club or membership oriented group. It would make sense to me to hire a consultant if you are having a hard time getting or retaining customers, as they will most likely have more ideas than you could think up on your own.

  2. John Ferrell

    You said that some people need a gym buddy. If I was going to the gym I would want to make sure I had someone that I could work out with. Finding a fitness class at a club might be a good way to find someone that you could work out with at the gym.

    1. Darragh Hayes

      John, I totally agree with you I have often noticed the people that have gym partners tend to stick it out a lot longer. Fitness is essential nowadays it can make a huge difference in all aspects of your life. Although in relation to gym buddies the individual needs to be self-motivated also. Because gym buddy’s / partners can sometimes let you down so individuals can often loose out.

  3. Craig Ronald

    For keeping a steady stream of members coming through your gym door every month can be a challenging task. The blog provides you the reasons behind the members quit the gym and the best way to attract them to stay in your gym for a longer time. For increasing the members of your gym or keep them stable then engaged them in your gym by offering high quality services every month. You need to enhance your gym techniques and the best services to get the members back into the gym. The good feedback from your gym members helps you to increase your gym membership and promote your gym in a better way.

  4. Ridley Fitzgerald

    Thanks for the great tips for not quitting the gym! I want to try and get a membership somewhere, but I know myself to well. Before I join a gym, I have to eliminate my reasons for quitting it. I’ll try to find a knowledgeable gym body, like you said!

  5. Dennis

    Great research and very helpful tips to overcome the challenges. Buddy and great guidance surely will help to retain the new joiners to the fitness center. If these are taken care, they might get more friends as well. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Bethel Smith

    I am not surprised to find that overcrowding is a common reason for people to leave gyms. It would make sense that having software to track what hours people are working would be a great way to monitor this issue. This would allow the gym to plan accordingly around peak hours.

  7. Daphne Gilpin

    Thanks for explaining that group classes are a great way to feel like we belong in a gym environment. I’ve been worried about my health lately and want to start being more active on a regular basis. I’m glad I read your article because I think finding group classes at a local health club sounds like a great way to stay motivated!

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