This month, most people begin to return to their normal routines following summer break.
But, this transition seems to be slower and more of a struggle for even your most committed members than in past years. More and more members are delaying their return to the gym and for some members, it takes weeks or even months before they walk through our front doors again.
So why is it so hard for so many members to get back into their exercise routines, and what can we do as program directors to influence their transition back into our facilities and programs?
Social and behavioral scientists who have been studying non-consistent exercisers’ behavior patterns say that we must make exercise relevant to our clients’ and members’ daily lives. We must connect the benefits to the immediate short-term needs of a person, rather than the long-term health benefits. What if we were to associate immediate benefits to our programs, like “boost in energy, mood, improved sleep or productivity?” Would that help get members back to the gym and back into our programs faster?
According to the research, this works to motivate exercisers, as does the following: choosing easier, more enjoyable workouts that are sustainable over time, making exercise social (working out with a close friend), getting competitive within the group (where people can keep track of each other’s progress), and working out in a group setting.
Once again, the research shows group dynamics have a lot of power over exercise behavior, but the key to success is gathering people with similar interests, then creating a way for members to track one another’s exercise efforts. Keeping score in the game is not just for kids.
Think about ways you can incorporate this social and behavioral science into sound strategies for bringing your members back to your facility as soon as summer wraps up. The sooner we can get our members back into a routine that is enjoyable, social and competitive, the sooner we have impacted their lives for the long term.
Mo Hagan is VP of program innovation for GoodLife Fitness and canfitpro. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.