Retention: What it means and How to improve


The lifeblood of a fitness gym is its customers. There are many ways to go about finding leads and converting them into customers. But what comes next? Retention. Gyms need retention, especially boutique gyms that have less space and need consistent customers.

A boutique gym’s success or failure depends on retention. Therefore, for anyone interested in working with or owning a fitness gym, it’s necessary to know how to calculate retention. It Is also important to have an idea of how to improve retention rate.

Retention and its Importance

Retention is very simple in theory. Essentially, retention tells you how many people tend to remain with your gym. One way to calculate retention is to just look at the percentage of gym members that remained members over the course of 12 months. That’s easy enough, right? And as easy as it is, the number is very significant and shows how well you are doing as a business owner.

“Why does retention matter?” you may ask. “Do I need to be focused on how many people I’m losing, or should my focus be on bringing in new people and hoping they stick?” The latter is an option but not a great one for boutique gyms.

There are gyms focused on getting as many people through their doors as possible. That is where their money goes. If members stick around, that’s great. Then there are gyms focused on the retention of people they bring in to the gym. Their money goes into keeping those people happy.

The first is usually a highly franchised gym that makes money by handing out a massive amount of $10 gym memberships, especially around New Years. The second is a boutique gym that may have a specialty or niche. It is usually smaller and quality of the facility and services are of great importance because the gym is so small that it cannot sustain thousands of new people for cheap memberships. They need a few people who will pay a lot more and then come back continuously. Yes, new members are great, but if you are a boutique gym, retention needs to be your focus.

Members are worth quite a bit of money. You may think that as soon as you get business from them, you know their value but the longer they stick with you, the more valuable they’ll become. Customers who remain loyal are generally worth at least 10 times the price of their first purchase. Loyal customers mean more money. Gyms make more money with loyal customers than they do with brand new members who may or may not stay. That makes retention inherently valuable.

Now that we know a little more about retention and its importance, let’s talk about how to improve it.

Increase Attendance, Increate Retention

In order to increase retention, we need to increase attendance. That seems mind-numbingly obvious, but we need to look at attendance seriously. We are not talking about simply re-upping a gym membership, we’re talking about people physically coming in to the gym more and increasing member attendance overall. This, in turn, will increase the likelihood of memberships being renewed.

A gym needs its members to be interested in the services it provides. To see that interest, you need to see people coming into the gym consistently and getting use from their membership.

In order to increase retention and have members stay consistent, you need to be bringing in as many of your members as is possible eight times a month at least. The trick is, you need them to feel motivated enough to come infrequently.

Research about your gym members’ trends or even research into trends overall can help you better understand their thought process. There are many statistics that can show us how and when it is more likely that a member will come into the gym. For example, members are more likely to come in to the gym early in the week because they had the weekend to prepare and gain optimism for the coming days. As the week goes on, motivation may lessen or move toward other things. Luckily, there are many targeted ways to encourage and incentivize people to come in to the gym and get over whatever wall they ran into.

Using Social Media to Increase Attendance

One way to keep your gym at the forefront of your members’ minds is by being active on social media. Hosting fun and interesting challenges, gatherings, and more will create a fun atmosphere and may help make your business into more of a community. Through social media, you can share events with members, remind them to register for a class, and maybe even bring more attention to your business through friends of your members.

Social media is also a way to interact with your members away from the gym. It keeps them updated and aware of changes that may be made at the gym, which may help them to feel more connected. At the least, your members will see the content you produce and are reminded to go work-out.

The better your content and the more consistent it is, the better the results will be. Often businesses will outsource their social media management to businesses like 10Twelve in order to make sure they get the best results from their online networks.

Using Results to Increase Motivation

The most important thing you can do to increase retention is to give your members motivation and the best way to give them motivation is to give them results.

Gyms need their members to come in to the gym those eight times at the very least a month. They also need that number to not decrease the longer they hold their memberships, which often happens. Many people who sign up for gym memberships begin excitedly and believe that they are going to achieve their fitness goals. However, very often they don’t know how to achieve those goals. They aren’t sure how to use the equipment or what exercises will suit their bodies.

When a new member doesn’t see the results they want right away, or they get frustrated by their lack of knowledge about equipment, their motivation will wane quickly. The best way to counteract this too familiar pattern is to make sure new members are trained on the equipment. It is also important that they are given resources or even a free personal training appointment to give them a solid workout plan. This way, they can start their new membership on the right foot with information catered to them. Making sure that they also have resources to return to as they outgrow their plan or have difficulties with their current one will help keep their motivation strong.

In a Nutshell

Boutique gyms need membership retention in order to survive. Loyal and consistent customers are extremely valuable to a business, especially a fitness business. In order to increase retention, do not forget the power of motivation in increasing attendance. People need to feel encouraged and when they see results, they’ll be much more likely to keep coming back to your business. A lack of understanding or resources can make a member feel out of place or uncomfortable in a gym. That is the absolute last thing a gym member should feel, and it will about guarantee losing their business. Find ways to help members find a great routine to stick to and you’ll see motivation grow. Increasing community engagement through social media is also a great strategy.