Onboarding New Members for Maximum Results and Retention
Each day your club will enroll members from a wide variety of fitness backgrounds. There are the self-proclaimed “gym rats” that have perhaps just relocated to your area. There are the “couples” or “workout buddies” that enroll together with a built-in accountability partner. And then there are some that enroll that are going at it alone, without former exercise experience and without an action plan. These are your “true newbies” and they need an action plan … fast.
The “true newbies” have an interest level at an all-time high, but a confidence level that is still fairly low. They have most likely been thinking about joining a gym since January, but have just now taken the plunge. If they have declined a personal training package or even the orientation that you offer, it is likely because they are nervous about working out period, let alone in front of someone. However, there are still some ways that you can get a new member involved quickly that might not involve putting a spotlight on them as a stand-alone “rookie.”
Group Orientations. This will help the “true newbies” form an instant bond with one another as they meet others who are also on a new path to success. A trainer or fitness director should be able to handle small groups of three to five people in a quick 30 to 45 minute orientation. Plan to host a few during the week before 7 a.m. and after 5 p.m., and a couple on the weekends. Have them sign up to reserve their spot to create a sense of urgency to be on time. At the end of that session, the trainer can offer the group an opportunity to sign up for a one-on-one assessment or a workout geared specifically to their needs.
Passport Program. Incentivize your “true newbies” to earn rewards such as a free t-shirt or a discount at the pro-shop or smoothie bar by having them complete a New Member Passport. This would work like a punch card in which staff members would sign off on their completion, or like BINGO cards in which there are 25 different suggestions, but they must only complete a row to get a BINGO. The passport could contain assignments like “get a fitness assessment with a trainer,” “attend a cycling class,” or “ask the fitness director what their favorite exercise is,” etc. This gets your “newbies” involved in places all over the gym that they might never have ventured to on their own.
It is crucial that all your new members feel welcome and comfortable in their new surroundings. Meeting new people and seeing results within the first 30 days will keep them coming back week after week.