August 8, 2019 Beth Cadman
Encouraging gym members to set personal fitness challenges can have a positive impact on member retention. Improving health and fitness is one of the most cited reasons people decide to join the gym. However, regardless of good intentions, according to the Fitness Industry Association, most people who sign up to the gym have quit or stopped going after 24 weeks.
Encouraging gym members, therefore, to not only set goals and push themselves to achieve new levels of fitness but to stick to and surpass these goals, can be key to increasing member retention rates.
When a new member joins the gym, it is vital to capture their motivation for doing so. Make sure you identify each specific goal and encourage them to apply the SMART method of thinking to their fitness aims. That is, they should be:
Specific – ask your members to be detailed. ‘I want to lose a stone,’ for example, is better than ‘I want to lose weight.’
Measurable – fitness goals should be quantifiable. This could be in terms of weight loss, lowering BP, being able to run a certain distance within a certain time and so on.
Ambitious – encourage members to set ambitious goals, if they make them too easy they won’t get the satisfaction necessary to motivate them to remain gym members.
Realistic – at the same time carefully manage members expectations of themselves. If they aspire to unrealistic targets they are setting themselves up for failure and will find it difficult to succeed which could lead to feeling demotivated and disengaged.
Time-Bound – setting deadlines for goals creates a sense of urgency and will encourage members to return to the gym frequently.
By capturing a members personal fitness goals, your gym staff can devise a personalised plan to help them achieve them – simultaneously keeping them on the right track and sustaining a positive relationship with exercise but also showing individual members that you care about what they care about and are here to help, encourage and support them.
By focusing retention efforts on the “net growth” of the exerciser through the delivery of personalised workouts and management of their workouts, and by encouraging their efforts and rewarding improvement in an exerciser’s relationship with exercise, the gym can improve exponentially.
Personalising fitness challenges for individual members allows you to gain better insight into their behaviour too. Collecting data in this way can help gyms identify at-risk members and ensure that they intervene if a member becomes dissatisfied with their progress or the service that the gym provides.
While the majority of gyms as a minimum try to capture a member’s fitness goals and devise a plan for them during the onboarding process, what many fail to do is to take it upon themselves to monitor a member’s progress towards their goals, and to offer assistance if data reveals that they are not able to hit their targets. Not only that, but monitoring member behaviour in this way can also help gyms ascertain when goals have been achieved and intervene at this stage to help members design new personal fitness challenges to ensure their continued engagement and perceived value of the gym.
While fitness challenges can be set on a very individual and personal level, owners may also consider how to provide broader group fitness challenges that could appeal to a wide spectrum of members, and encourage them to develop a deeper connection with and loyalty to the gym.
Setting fitness challenges could take many different forms. For example, you could employ the use of wearables and set up competitions via an app. You could set leaderboards in the gym displaying members’ best times. You might consider setting up specific fitness challenges relating to a particular class or create group challenges to encourage member interaction. Equipment that stores information giving users a breakdown of their personal bests and encouraging them to do better could be the motivation required to keep members returning to the gym as well as feeling as though they are part of a wider community.
Social – members who feel as though they are part of a community, and who regard coming to the gym as a fun and social experience are more likely to remain gym members.
Rewarding – the ability to monitor one’s progress, to achieve predetermined goals and to set new ones provides satisfaction and motivation to continue.
Competitive – healthy, friendly competition can help inspire members to push themselves harder, thus increasing the likelihood of them achieving what they set out to achieve. Competition between members as well as competition with the self can both have a positive effect and therefore help to increase engagement and lower churn rate.
Aspirational – visualising what you hope to become, or seeing others push themselves or challenge themselves can be aspirational and help demotivated members to refocus and work harder to achieve the same level of health and fitness.
There is no denying the psychology behind goal setting, with those who take the time to set goals for themselves more likely to obtain higher levels of achievement. If a gym member feels as though they are making progress and moving forward towards a fitter, healthier, better-looking version of themselves, they are more likely to consider the gym as an effective and valuable organisation that brings great benefits and positives to their life.
Encouraging fitness challenges is an effective and strategic method which can be employed in a number of ways to help individual members feel connected to and engaged with the gym, and therefore increase member retention.
If you want to learn how to capture and use member data more effectively book a demo of our powerful retention tool here.