The gym is non-negotiable for some of your customers. Staying in shape is a priority, so working out at your facilities has become a part of their lifestyle. These are the people who could be customers for life.

That is, unless they find a gym they like better.

For other customers, regular gym visits are aspirational. They go to the gym sometimes but are on the fence about whether a membership is worth it.

They might cancel if they don’t believe they’re getting value out of their money. After all, they can always work out at home like over half of adults in America do already.

Gym membership retention strategies aim to keep both types of customers. They prevent gym diehards from switching to a competitor. They also help people who want to exercise more frequently realize your gym is the best place to do it.

When you prioritize retention, you keep members for longer. But there are even more benefits. By using retention methods, you can build better relationships with your customers, strengthen your brand, and drive growth.

With retention, there’s not much to lose and a lot to gain. So, let’s dive into what you need to know about retention for your gym. You’ll see the benefits and how you can start improving retention rates today.

Understanding Member Retention

Gym membership retention is the process of keeping the customers you already have. It’s about reducing your churn rate—the rate at which members leave your gym.

The reality is that some people will end their memberships for reasons outside of your control, such as:

  • A gym membership no longer fits in their budget.
  • They don’t have time to work out anymore.
  • They move to a new city.

Your goal is to implement strategies that will help to keep the customers who might cancel their membership for reasons within your control, such as:

  • Poor service quality
  • Subpar or unclean facilities
  • Unprofessional staff
  • A lack of class offerings that appeal to your customer base
  • High prices

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How To Measure Retention for a Gym

One side of gym retention is strategy. The other side is measurement.

You need to strategize ways to keep members. Then, you’ll measure retention rates and engagement to better understand how your customers feel about your gym.

So, before exploring ways to boost membership retention, let’s look at three metrics you can track to see how effective all your efforts are.

1. Churn Rate

As mentioned, this is the percentage of customers who leave in a period, such as each month or annually. You can calculate it by dividing lost customers at the end of a period by the total number of customers at the start of a period. Then, multiply this number by 100. That’s your churn rate.

For example, say your gym has 500 members at the start of the month. At the end of the month, you have 450. Maybe you had 30 new people join, but 80 left. That’s a loss of 50. So, your churn rate is 10% ([50 / 500] x 100 = 10%).

How to approach gym membership churn: Measure your current rate to determine your baseline. If your rate goes up, that’s your signal to start digging into your customer feedback. Find out if higher churn is related to factors within your control. Keep your churn rate as low as possible.

2. Length of Engagement (LEG)

This metric looks at how long members stay with your gym. The longer people stay, the less time and money your business needs to spend on attracting new customers.

Calculate the average LEG by dividing the total months of engagement by the total number of members.

For instance, say your gym engagement looks like this:

  • Member 1: 10 months
  • Member 2: 24 months
  • Member 3: 6 months
  • Member 4: 4 months

Total months (44) / Total members (4) = 11 months

How to approach LEG: Calculate the average length of engagement for all your existing members. You can also calculate the average LEG for members who left. Implement retention strategies to try and push these numbers up. If you see a really low LEG number for your lost members, such as two or three months, try to get their feedback to find out why they’re leaving.

3. Adherence Rate

How often your members work out influences overall retention.

This is because members who don’t frequent the gym are more likely to cancel their membership than regulars. Avid gym-goers are more likely to reach their fitness goals, meaning they’re gaining more value from their membership. As a result, they’re likely to keep their membership going for years.

Find your adherence rate by adding up the per-week frequency of all members and dividing by the total number of members. Then divide this number by seven to account for all the days of the week, and multiply by 100 to find the rate.

For instance, if your members come to the gym for 2.8 days, on average, your adherence rate is 40% ([2.8 / 7] x 100 = 40%).

How to approach adherence rate: Do the math to find your current adherence rate. You might need to use your customer management software to determine how many days your members come in each week. Once you find your rate, implement strategies to increase adherence, such as offering more workout classes or extending your hours.

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Benefits of Gym Membership Retention

Gym membership retention will help you grow your business.

Higher retention equals more monthly revenue. It also means less effort is required to bring in new members.

But that’s not all. When you initiate strategies and business improvements to motivate your members to stay, you’ll also gain in the following ways:

  • Word-of-mouth marketing: If people love your gym, they will tell their friends and family members looking for recommendations. That’s basically free marketing for you.
  • More online reviews: Google reviews help build trust in your brand. Having a high number of online reviews can also boost your website’s ranking.
  • Sustainable business growth: With a steady customer base, you can confidently make growth plans. You can better predict future revenue, which allows your business to invest in improving your facilities or opening up new locations.

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4 Ways to Improve Gym Membership Retention

Now that you know how to measure retention and what it can do for your business, let’s look at 4 effective ways to boost your gym’s retention rates.

1. Level-Up New Member Onboarding.

Onboarding is an opportunity to start on the right foot with new members. Make the right impression with a solid onboarding process. Include steps such as the following:

  • Send a new member welcome email with details on who to contact with questions. Provide resources and an overview of what your facilities offer.
  • Offer a new member packet with fitness and nutritional diet tips and a list of classes, personal trainers, and ways to sign up for future information. Better yet, customize your welcome packets to your members’ fitness goals. For instance, create a packet for people trying to lose weight, seniors interested in improving their health, and young athletes interested in boosting performance.
  • Provide a free session with a personal trainer.
  • Have one of your staff offer a welcome tour to show your new members what’s available and answer any questions about using the facilities.

2. Gather Member Feedback Regularly.

A big part of retaining members is understanding what they want to see at their gym. Whether it’s new equipment or more fitness classes, when you know what your members appreciate, you know what to invest in to improve your fitness center.

3. Train Your Employees to Deliver Top-Notch Customer Service.

One bad experience is enough to push members to a different gym. And with over 113,000 gyms and fitness centers in the US, the chances are high that you have a few competitors in your area. That’s why customer service is one area you can’t afford to overlook.

Ensure your gym’s customer service is flawless by providing ongoing staff training. Teach your employees how to engage with members. Also, set expectations for the level of service you want them to offer at your clubs.

4. Create Member Fitness Challenges.

Increase engagement with fitness challenges.

Understand what your members’ fitness goals are. Then, develop challenges based on those goals.

Here are some ideas you can implement at your gym:

  • Are there any road races in your area? What about local marathons? Challenge your members to participate.
  • Does your gym have low adherence rates? Create a challenge encouraging members to spend at least three days in the gym.
  • You can also create seasonal challenges. New Year’s resolutions, summer fitness, and getting in shape for fall are all great themes your members might resonate with.

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How You Can Start Improving Gym Membership Retention Right Now

Boosting your retention can open up the doorway to serious revenue growth. However, retention strategies take time to implement. But that doesn’t mean you have to wait to get started.

Here are 4 steps you can take today to get on the path to higher gym membership retention:

  1. Send out an NPS® survey by email. Net promoter score® is a quick, effective survey that lets you take the pulse of member sentiment.
  2. Scope out your competitors. Browse their websites. Are they offering classes, facilities, or other perks that could attract your members? How can you one-up what they offer?
  3. Brainstorm community involvement ideas. List 5 to 10 ways your gym can get involved in the community. Your employees could volunteer at a local sporting event. You could host a healthy cooking class or collect donations for a local charity.
  4. Talk to some of your members. Strike up a conversation with some of your members. Ask them if they’re happy with their gym experience. Is there anything they’d love to see at your gym that you don’t have right now? Doing this will help you learn about your members while also showing that you care about their experience.