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Group Fitness 101

group fitness

As club owners and operators, we respect the value of group fitness within our facilities. I believe we also understand the power it holds for retention of our members, due to the community and engagement that happens naturally. But how much effort do we put in with new members when it comes to engaging them in the biggest retention tool in our clubs? Do we set them up for success with our programming or leave them to navigate it alone? I’m reminded of the saying, “You get out what you put in.”

Many facilities offer new members free sessions with trainers upon joining, or limited free access to other paid amenities in hopes those members will continue to use those services and build non-dues revenue. Understandable.

But why not apply those same ideas to group fitness? Providing a safe, thorough introduction to group fitness programming is essential for a new member’s success at your facility, and increases the likelihood they will stay with you and keep that membership revenue flowing.

This approach isn’t for every new member, but through the vetting skills of your membership sales team, they should be able to identify the perfect candidates for this special attention.

Here are a few ways you can start to build your group fitness onboarding:

  • Upon joining, your group fitness manager should be the first connection. If someone expresses interest in group fitness or lists group fitness classes as their primary driver for joining your facility, this should be an immediate red flag for your group fitness manager to reach out and make the connection. Find out what classes are of interest, make recommendations and talk through any anxieties they may have. This can be done via phone, email, text or in person, and should be within a day or two of joining. Why not make the introduction while they’re joining, then it’s also a familiar face in the facility? This also fosters constant communication amongst your staff — another positive benefit.
  • Offer a one-on-one class. Similar to providing your new members with a free personal training session, why not offer them a one-on-one group fitness class of their choice? Connect them with your favorite instructor who truly represents the core values of the club and will be your biggest cheerleader. It might be helpful to round up a few team members to join the class with them, promoting even more connections in the club.
  • Connect them with a group fitness buddy. Who are the group fitness champions of your membership database? These are the members who cannot help but constantly tell you how much they love your club, classes and instructors. Foster the community aspect of group fitness by introducing your new member to a veteran member. Ask that veteran member to be a “host” before, during and after class. Set up a space next to them for the new member for class and introduce them to other members.
  • Provide 30-minute intro classes to learn the format. Provide a judgement free space and time for new members to learn the formats you offer. This will increase their confidence walking into the full class for the first time. My club specifically offers a 30-minute group fitness 101 class every Saturday, and the format changes each week. This provides an introduction to the format, and talks through what to expect in class, what equipment might be used, and how to use it, then a short workout. By the way, these classes can also be for existing members who would like to learn new formats.

Take time to create a group fitness experience for your new members, and you will get out what you put in.

Ann Glor

Ann Glor is the group fitness director at the Wisconsin Athletic Club-Lake Country. She can be reached at aglor@thewac.com or visit thewac.com.

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