Surprisingly enough, the majority of these “new memberships” are not new to the fitness arena at all. They have belonged to your facility in the past and, odds are, if they leave again, will belong to a different facility in the future.
The lesson here is simple: set your members up for success and they will continue to be your members.
How do we do this? We educate, engage and empower each and every member that walks through the door, every single time.
Most people who drop out of exercise programs do so because their expectations are not being met. For example, a person who expects to lose 50 pounds in three months by exercising twice a week and eating fast food is going to quit. So, what do we do about it?
Educate. Scheduling complimentary fitness assessments is a great way to start your members out on the right track. Each new member represents a new opportunity for your professional staff to showcase their expertise and methodology, while helping members develop strategies for success. During this time, it is important to discuss goals. Are they realistic? Are they measurable? Are they time based? Do they have a plan? Is it manageable?
Engage. A common misconception is that once a member joins, the hard work is done. This is false. The decision to join a facility is relatively simple. The decision to stay is multifaceted. In order to retain members for the long term, we need to foster member engagement. We do this by offering comprehensive, inclusive group fitness programming; hosting lunch and learn events with community leaders in areas that are pertinent to our members’ needs and wants (heart health, diabetes prevention, cancer screening, etc.); and showing them that the benefits of membership go far beyond access to fitness equipment.
Empower. We empower our members by giving them the tools, information and resources necessary to achieve their fitness goals. After all, a successful member is one that believes they can take control of their health, are comfortable within the environment of your facility and feel part of the team.
Regardless of the inherent benefits of exercise, the process of adopting healthy habits is complex and largely psychological. Set your members up for success from the beginning and your bottom line will thank you in the end.
Gavin Reath is a personal training director for Meridian Fitness & Wellness.