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Free or Paid Trial? Which to Offer at Your Health Club

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free or paid trial

We all know every gym or studio offers one or the other: a free or paid trial. These trials often range from one day to a few weeks in duration and are designed for the consumer to test out the product. I love mystery shopping these trials whenever I get the chance because it is a good way to evaluate the customer experience. Everything from the initial conversation with the sales associate to the workout itself.

One of the most debated topics clubs and studios have with each other is whether their trial should be free or paid. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each so you can decide which is right for your fitness business.

Free Trial

Who doesn’t like the word free? Yes, millions of gyms in the world offer a free trial. Often, they consist of multiple free days you can try out the gym. Although this is very enticing and effective to a certain degree, the real question should be what kind of lead am I looking for with a free trial? The minute you assign no cost or value to a trial at a gym, you must prepare yourself that many of those people will not be as qualified a lead as you would like.

How do you know that? Simple, free means anyone can sign up whether they can eventually afford your particular membership options or not. It is important to understand how many members you need to break even based on the size of your gym. This will determine what kind and how many leads you actually need. For example, big box typically needs a lot more leads than a boutique fitness studio.

Paid Trial

Since we can all agree everyone likes the word free, we can probably assume we all hate the word paid. But should you really when it comes to a trial? There is something to be said for someone who pulls out their credit card to pay for a trial they have never experienced yet. Therein lies the difference when it comes to understanding what type of lead you are looking for.

Paid trials are becoming more and more popular with gyms and studios because those companies are realizing they are obtaining a more qualified lead, thus, easier to sell them a membership. Now, one misconception happens to be how much the trial should be. It doesn’t matter the cost as much as the fact that it is a paid trial. For example, $3 for three days or $7 for seven days. Don’t get caught up in the actual amount. Make it catchy and consistent with the number of days you are offering.

Which One to Choose

Having looked at some of the pros and cons of each, it really comes down to the number of members you need for your business to be profitable. The simple way I look at this is if you run a big box gym, you need a lot of leads. Therefore, offering a free trial would probably work to your advantage because you will certainly get more leads signing up. Even though many of them will not move on to purchase a membership you will still have many leads to work with. 

On the flip side, if you are running a boutique studio you might want to consider offering both types of trials because your needs for members are considerably lower than that of a big box gym. You can afford to try and get a more qualified lead with a paid trial.

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Kory Angelin

Kory Angelin is the chief operating officer for Volofit. He is an award-winning trainer, two-time published author and has helped to elevate some of the biggest fitness companies in the world. He was featured in “Top 20 Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2020” by The Chicago Journal and “Top 20 Influential People of 2020” by New York Wire. To find out more, go to volo-fit.com and follow him @koryfit.

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