The New Year is in full effect and some 38 percent of Americans have pledged to get fit and healthy. This is great for club operators. New membership revenues are spiking and quite simply, Santa couldn’t have brought us a better Christmas wish.
Then the dreaded 17th of February rolls up and suddenly the hallways are quieter, the equipment is sitting idle and memberships are being cancelled as people head off down South to escape the winter blues with a myriad of vacation cuisines and libations. And they aren’t coming back, are they?
Industry experts argue the keys to successful retention are things such as making it a social experience, limiting your initial visits to 20 minutes to create a routine, and having members use a buddy system (working out with a friend).
We agree 100 percent (sort of). No doubt there is a segment of the population who look for additional social experiences, but in our conclusive, independent studies, people are increasingly overwhelmed with the amount of social interaction with work, family, social media and an endless availability of connectivity through mobile devices. Most simply cry for “a time out.” Among the chaos of a regular day, they want to be able to carve out time to get fit and have some “me time.” Perfect. Join the gym, and go have some “me time.”
Herein lies the problem: in the list of ever-growing pressures of managing a busy lifestyle, that 30 minutes turns into 90 minutes with drive times, bad weather, and not to mention the number of diversions that can occur to circumvent the arrival at the club. The number one response in our research was “the lifestyle of fitness doesn’t fit my lifestyle.”
“The club is too far. The weather is bad. Maybe I’ll just stop in to get groceries first. Being on holidays really interrupted my routine and I can’t get started again.” These are all just excuses, yes, but this is where your membership is going.
So give them what they want: your club in their pocket. Ah, the paradox ensues. We’ve built a business over decades relying on users coming into our clubs, so why would we possibly want them to workout anywhere and anytime without coming to the club?
The future of fitness lies in a healthy mix of in-club and the “anywhere” fitness experience. It truly is a lifestyle thing and those who adapt first will add millions to their bottom line (and keep it there year round).
Brad Weber is the CEO of FitCloudConnect. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit fitcloudconnect.com.