Implementing Wearables To Increase Member Retention At Your Fitness Club

Discover the impact of wearable technology and tracking apps on member retention in fitness clubs. Learn how AI-driven CRM systems and gym automation can improve customer engagement, socialization, and gamification, leading to higher retention rates.
January 25th, 2019
Implementing Wearables To Increase Member Retention At Your Fitness Club

Updated November 17, 2023

Smart technologies have reached a level of saturation that they are integrated with our everyday lives. So much so that the average person checks their phone 80 times a day. They represent, therefore an opportunity for operators to engage with their members in a more immediate and personal way.

The associated wearable technology is becoming increasingly common with over 216.43 million smartwatch users in 2022. For operators, the potential for wearable technology to motivate, challenge, and ignite a competitive spirit in gym-goers is extensive.

Integrating wearable technology into your membership engagement strategy can lead to a notable increase in member retention. It also provides operators with the opportunity to capture data and use it to identify and target at-risk members.

Studies have shown that 50% of new members on monthly contracts end their gym membership within eight months of signing up. This equates to around a $6 billion loss of revenue for the fitness industry each year. 

If gyms, therefore, can better understand what makes previously engaged members disengage and leave the gym, the financial benefits are significant.

Now, more than ever, members are results-driven, so the ability to have instant access to information on demand, whenever and wherever they are is important.

Health clubs are in a particularly favorable position to explore the possibilities of wearable technology by offering the use of wearables or tracking apps during workouts and classes. 

Wearable technology and tracking apps represent an opportunity for fitness operators to drive membership retention in a new, more direct way.

Wearable Technology and Membership Retention

Wearable technology is an opportunity for gym members to get real-time updates on their progress. It also members to track progress during exercise, summarise post-workout performance, and compare this with historical performance data. 

This enables gym goers to take responsibility for their own fitness goals, to feel a sense of accountability, and to compete with their personal best. They become active and involved in their fitness and, as a by-product, become more engaged and motivated to continue.

Shawn Potocki, the owner of UFIT Personal Training in Hamilton, New Jersey, agrees that the use of technology keeps clients more interested in their workouts:

“My clients definitely feel more accountable when wearing a heart rate monitor or other forms of wearable technology. This is especially true when they are doing workouts on their own. The technology helps them keep track of their progress.”

Technology that allows members to set goals and track progress gives them ultimate control of their fitness. It means they actively participate in their workouts rather than being passive bystanders.

Approaching fitness in this way naturally has a positive effect on member retention. More engaged members are less likely to feel demotivated, reducing their risk of churn.

For operators, either supplying an app or hirable wearables, it’s an opportunity to collect valuable data about member behavior. 

The ability to harness zero-party data from member workouts is incredibly valuable to gym operators. It provides them with accurate data about workout habits, including what the member was doing, the duration, and frequency.

Socialization and Gamification – an essential part of your member retention strategy

The number of people using social media increased from 0.97 billion in 2010 to 2.62 billion in 2018 and is set to rise even further in the future. Fitness clubs have realized that combining social media and wearable technology creates digital communities. This increases socialization and encourages members to view workouts as part of their social routine.

Gamification is the use of game elements and game-design techniques in non-game contexts to engage people and solve problems. 

Enabling gym goers to communicate with one another and compete via wearable technology gameifies the working out and encourages friendships to form.

Members who feel that they are part of the gym community, and who view going to the gym as a social activity are less likely to leave. So, for operators, encouraging these communities to develop can see member retention rates increase.

Especially if operators foster the spirit of friendly competition through challenges. If the gym has developed its app for use with smart technology then this can be used as the foundation for those competitions. 

Moreover, the app can be used to personalize goals to create individual objectives as well as the overarching gym-wide challenge.

Creating personalized challenges via an app and wearable technology allows members to compete against themselves. This can be an effective motivator and encourage gym retention because members have a drive to beat their previous PB.

Gamification and Community

Gyms can promote communication and competition via the use of social media, apps, and virtual leadership boards. 

The spirit of fun, friendly competition, and comradery can also positively impact members who are disengaging. Or were just less engaged and motivated than others. Although this is much harder to track it is undeniably a benefit.

Wearable fitness trackers that can be linked up to gym equipment can turn both individual workouts and group exercise classes into a game. This motivates members to push themselves harder and increases the sense of community at the gym. 

This feeling of belonging coupled with an increase in membership engagement means members are also more likely to reach their personal fitness goals, increasing levels of satisfaction, motivation, and desire to continue.

Wearables and data collection

According to Soreon's research, the use of wearable technology in the healthcare sector is only going to grow. Predictions pointed to an increase in investments in the healthcare sector from $2 billion in 2014 to $41 billion in 2020.

The vast amounts of zero-party data gathered from apps and wearables can provide gym owners and their teams with crucial information. This can help influence membership retention strategies and can be key to answering the problem of how to improve member retention.

The information gathered from these devices can indicate which members are at higher risk of canceling their membership. This helps operators to put interventions and engagement campaigns in place. 

The more membership data operators have to leverage, the more sophisticated these re-engagement campaigns can be. So having telemetry from member workouts can assist with this. 

Sending out reminders for classes that might interest members based on the data collected from wearables, as well as training tips and push notifications could also help to encourage at-risk members to continue using the gym. 

Using apps that inspire people to set their goals and track their progress when not at the gym such as inputting meals or additional workouts can also provide valuable insights into whether members are having trouble sticking to their goals – and if they are offering advice and support could help them get back on track.

Drive Membership Engagement and Retention

Whether the gym is part of a multinational chain or a small local business, club owners are beginning to realize that improving member engagement improves membership retention rates. The benefits of using wearable technology can play a meaningful part in this. Be it attendance, in-club spending, workout progress, and fulfillment, or rating the facilities and customer satisfaction overall, all this data can be collected, analyzed, and used to improve the customer experience from every angle.

Integrating wearables and tracking apps into the fitness experience and using this technology to gather individual membership data provides a powerful insight into how engaged members are.

It allows gyms the opportunity to become an essential part of members' lives, improve the member experience, increase motivation, and offer them incentives. All of which will inevitably result in higher member retention rates and steady, sustainable growth.

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