Three Ways Health Clubs Can Retain New Year’s Resolutions Members

Credit to CI|Lauren Bedosky, Contributing Writer

Group Taking Part In Spinning Class In Gym

It’s an annual ritual that health club owners, managers, and trainers see play out time and time again: January rolls around and memberships skyrocket. The cardio machines, free weights and fitness classes are filled to the brim with the New Year’s’ resolutions crowd who, after weeks of unrestrained snacking and entertaining, are determined that this is the year they will finally lose those last few pounds. Or run that marathon. Or stave off diabetes.

Predictably, the crowd begins to thin out after a couple of weeks until only a few brave souls are left standing by March. In spite of a desire to be healthier, the majority of people who make New Year’s resolutions inevitably fail every year. They may set up to fail from the get-go.

“The problem is that people make their resolutions in a bubble of overindulgence,” said Michelle Segar, PhD, author of “No Sweat: How the Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness” and director of the University of Michigan’s Sports, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center. “They make these lofty, unrealistic, perfect-world resolutions. And of course, once that bubble bursts, which could be within two days of making it or two weeks, depending on how life turns out, the resolutions can’t survive.”

Segar compares resolutions made within this bubble to a helium balloon: eventually the helium escapes whether or not the balloon pops.

For the gym operators, losing the majority of these new members year after year can be just as disheartening as failing at New Year’s resolution over and over again. But health club operators have ways to keep the resolutions crowd from dropping out—and help them achieve their goals.

Stay Engaged

A common mistake that health club operators make with the New Year’s resolution crowd is that they don’t follow up or offer a plan for helping them reach their individual goals, according to Karen Woodard, president of Premium Performance Training.

“Simply selling a membership and turning people loose will not impact retention or future sales in a positive way,” she said.

To keep members motivated and engaged, operators should partner with members on their goals from day one. For this, Woodard offers a three-step process:
1. Identify the members’ goal(s) during the intake process so that both the member and the club have ownership of the goal(s).

2. Create a systematic monthly follow-up plan. This will be done by the membership advocate that enrolled the member, as well as any other professional involved in the goal plan. The plan should be agreed to by all parties and is intended to keep the member engaged and committed.

3. Invite the member to participate in three health club services that will affect his or her goal(s). This can be done at the point of sale and during monthly follow-up conversations.

Health clubs could even take advantage of the widespread interest in healthy living by creating special New Year’s programs or packages that bundle complementary services to aid a particular goal. For example, a weight loss package could offer a personal training session, a nutrition consultation and body composition testing. Meanwhile, a healthy living package could include yoga instruction, access to supplements and a nutrition overview with a registered dietitian.

The key is to remain engaged with members and continue to follow up with them regarding their goals and concerns.

“Checking in with people at critical junctures, such as after their first month, is important because we can address any issues or concerns they might have before they just quit,” said David Dellanave, co-owner of The Movement Minneapolis. “Let’s say someone joins and their knee starts hurting and they don’t tell us about it until we ask. They might just quit instead of using the physical therapy resources we have to get them fixed up and back on their way.”

Prioritize Enjoyment over Intensity

When new members—some of whom haven’t exercised regularly since the previous year—kickstart their exercise routine, some of them push themselves too hard, ultimately leading to burnout or even injury. Trainers may even encourage this “no pain, no gain” philosophy. However, for the majority of people who are not hardcore exercisers, this punishing mentality just isn’t motivating enough to sustain exercise for the long-term, especially when everyday demands distract and sap energy.

One of the best ways gyms can boost retention among the New Year’s resolution crowd is to encourage these new members to do the activities they enjoy doing, as opposed to the activities that burn the most calories, according to Segar. Though it may seem counterintuitive, especially if the goal is weight loss, advocating enjoyment over intensity actually leads to greater long-term success because enjoyment leads to consistency. It’s only human nature: Members will stick with activities they like, and quit the ones they don’t.

“One of the strongest pieces of science we know that exists is that people who enjoy or feel good during physical activity are the ones that actually keep it up,” Segar said.

Become an Ally

Some health club operators may hesitate to teach their members how to be successful with their goals both inside and outside of the gym because they fear people will cancel their membership if they are able to achieve results on their own. But becoming an ally to members can increase retention, Segar said.

“When I have helped people identify the gym as a partner inside and out, they feel successful,” she said. “They’re more successful and that means they stick with it.”

Despite best intentions, work deadlines, family obligations and tight schedules mean members may go through times where they can’t make it to the gym. On these occasions, members need to have at-home workouts so they can stay on track. Personal trainers should give clients some workouts to do at home, and the intake packet that new members get should include tips for easy, equipment-free workouts. Not only will members feel empowered to lead a more active lifestyle, but they will come to view the health club as a true partner.

When health club operators take the initiative to partner with their members to keep them moving—whether they are at the gym or in their basement at home—members achieve greater long-term success and consistency. And when members feel successful, they let people know.

“People would feel good and talk about a product or service that helped them be successful anyway,” Segar said, “but imagine how someone is going to feel about a gym that helps them be successful when they’ve failed for the last 30 years.”

A quick guide to starting your gym’s holiday marketing calendar

The season is almost upon us; Kids going back to school, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and before you know it NY2017!  With all of these and many more holidays coming up, now is the perfect time to set up a marketing calendar so that you can harness the excitement to either attract new/former members or get current members to try out/buy ancillary services.  Hopefully a couple of these examples will fuel your inner marketeer, so that you get ahead of your competition

  • Look at your enterprise and then start filtering down to create funnels to target your biggest opportunities.
    • Leads that have not been in the gym yet
      • EMAIL: “[gym name] would like to invite you to try us out with a friend for FREE till Labor Day!”  Then inside your message have a link for online enrollment for a 1 time offer
    • Members that have not had a complementary personal training session
      •  SMS: ” Hey [member name]! [gym name] would like to give you an early holiday gift.  click here to claim it
        • Have the hyper link take the member to a few different offers that they can bring in such as; personal training session, passes for friends to join them for a personal training session
    • Members that have bought personal training
      • Email: Offer a “scary special” (clearly a Halloween theme), that discounts purchasing a larger package of personal training, but within a small window.  Have hyper links for the members to quickly get in touch with the appropriate person.

If you need help filtering your audiences, building quality campaigns or improving your sales processes using a digital asset, then click here to learn how LeadDolphin is currently helping hundreds of health clubs achieve their revenue goals.

Why You Should Thank Kevin Spacey and ‘House of Cards’ for Making a Star of Rowing Machines|Club Industry

“House of Cards” character Frank Underwood, who is portrayed by Kevin Spacey, uses the WaterRower to manage the stress of his sometimes underhanded political life in Washington, DC.

Kevin Spacey speaks on stage at the portrait unveiling and season four premiere of Netflix’s “House Of Cards” at the National Portrait Gallery on February 22 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images For Netflix).

The WaterRower and the emerging use of rowing machines by fitness enthusiasts and health clubs was put in the spotlight by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal report correlated the WaterRower’s recent rise in sales with its repeat appearances on the popular Netflix drama “House of Cards.” Frank Underwood, who is portrayed by Kevin Spacey, uses the WaterRower to manage the stress of his sometimes underhanded political life in Washington, DC.

The Wall Street Journal story noted that WaterRower’s factory in Warren, Rhode Island, has tripled its production capacity in five years to more than 1,000 machines per week. The use of WaterRower and Concept2 machines in various club settings, including Orangetheory Fitness, Equinox and CrossFit, was profiled in the report.

Here is a key stat from the story:

“More than 10 million people used a rowing machine at least once in 2015 in the United States, a 3 percent increase from the year before, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.”

I looked back at the recently released Physical Activity Council’s 2016 Participation Report to see if additional data was available on rowing machine usage. The Participation Report tracks sports, fitness and recreation participation the United States, and the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) is part of the group that released the report.

Although the Participation Report did not include rowing machine usage or water rowing in its methodology, the spike in rowing machine sales is not all that surprising when looking at other data contained in the report.

Fitness sports recorded the highest participation rate among Millennials (66.7 percent) and Generation X (66.2 percent), according to the Participation Report. The Participation Report also noted fitness- and activity-related spending is trending more conservative over the last three years. Spending on sports and recreation equipment ranked fourth on the overall spending list despite the conservative trend – one position ahead of gym membership/ fee spending.

The SFIA and the Participation Report statistics become more insightful when looking at the ‘House of Cards’ demographics. The show’s viewership is young and wealthy: the primary age range for show viewers is 18 to 35 and the income spikes showed a range of $75,000 to $124,000 per year, according to data from SpotRight, marketing strategy firm.

Millennials and Generation Xers are statistically the most likely to participate in a physical fitness activity and to invest in sports and recreation equipment. These age groups also intersect with the primary “House of Cards” demographic with disposable income. Since some health clubs are looking to capitalize on the boutique programming trend, it’s not too surprising to see the surge in “obscure” rowing machine sales, as the Wall Street Journal calls it. A rowing machine for personal home use is by most standards a significant investment, but there appears to be a market.

Last year I wrote a story about the launch of Gronk Fitness Products. New England Patriots star tight end (and Millennial) Rob Gronkowski is the face of the brand, which offers a Gronk-branded WaterRower as part of its product line. The Gronk WaterRower sells for $1,905, the entry-level WaterRower model sells for $945 and the entry-level Concept2 model sells for $900, according to each brand’s website.

A friend of mine and his family were big into the river rowing scene when I was growing up in Minnesota. Although I was unable to match their passion and financial commitment, they introduced me to the sport, and I always wanted to participate in it somehow. I discovered the rowing machine when I first started frequenting clubs about six years ago and came across one on a business trip. I didn’t see a rowing machine in a club outside of that location for almost three years. Today, there are two rowing machines sandwiched in the free weights area of the low-membership fee recreation center I currently frequent. It makes me wonder if rowing machines are or will be the next big craze in the boutique fitness movement.

What do you think?

Are you using rowers to differentiate your health club? Are you running rowing machine-based exercise classes? Are members asking you for a rowing machine (or more machines) at your club? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Why Your Gym Needs a Blog

A lively, fresh and engaging blog presence is a great way to keep the conversation going with your club members and attract a following of raving fans. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s practically free (just don’t let the content go stale or neglect this vital communication channel).

Keep it real and relevant! Your blog is a serious competitive advantage – use it.

What’s in it for you?

Creating great blog content has multiple benefits for your gym or fitness business. The Blog Content eBook highlights four of them and provides tips on how to create that great content to get the below results:

  • Increase your search engine visibilitySearch engines crawl for content that is relevant and recent. Your blog is the perfect opportunity to create content that meets both of those criteria. Attention-grabbing content nets results and gets more eyeballs on your blog, site, and content via search.
  • Put out a 24/7 welcome matYou, and your business, are probably not open 24 hours a day – but your website and blog can be. Have great content available for new and current clients whenever they choose to visit.

    Add credibility to your business by showing off the company you keep. Let people know what trainers, gurus, news sites, and more you visit and follow for news by sharing great content from those providers on your blog. Being a great blogger isn’t about just showcasing your own voice and words – elevate your brand with content others will want to read and share, bringing others to your blog as well.

  • Create a brand personality & own itYour blog should be the heart & soul of your brand, as well as your social media efforts. Make sure that you’re creating content that people want to share, comment on, retweet, and more. Having a brand identity through your messaging will allow people to relate to a personality you’ve created for your business.
  • Blogging pays offFrequent posting creates more traffic for your business. Studies show that blogs have 55% more visitors. Isn’t that as good a reason as any to start writing? The more people walking through that virtual “front door” via your blog, the more people you can convert into clients and members.

Today’s Health Clubs Are Divided into Self-Service or Supported Models | Club Industry

| Club Industry

Competition comes from all places in the health club industry.

Low-price clubs, boutique gyms, mobile applications and even church-based fitness offerings have put pressure on mainstream clubs to better adapt to consumer desires in recent years. Health clubs struggling with competition can take two paths to brand differentiation, Ray Algar told a Club Industry webinar audience on Thursday. The free webinar, “The Two Pathways of the Fitness Industry: Are You on the Right Course for Success?” sponsored by Precor, will be available for on-demand viewing in the coming days.

Algar, the managing director of U.K.-based strategic fitness industry research firm Oxygen Consulting, profiled the evolution of the fitness consumer mindset during the last 12 years. The consumer has changed from a “go to the gym” mentality as the primary method to improve physical health to evaluating all other potential choices in the marketplace, Algar said.

“I don’t think we now can assume we have a monopoly over how consumers become more active,” Algar said. “They have a lot more choices available to them. One route is to interact with the health club industry.”

Algar’s presentation detailed the consumer choices in the marketplace and examined U.K.-based Fitness First, digital platform ParkRun and SoulCycle as case studies. He showed how low-cost clubs and boutique fitness gyms have thrived in recent years through a comparative strategic analysis of common operational factors. The industry is splitting into two paths: one where consumers are offered a self service type of experience and the other where they are offered a supported experience, Algar said.

“The low-cost gym brands believe in operational efficiency,” Algar said. “I think with the supported brands, they believe in what I would characterize as service intimacy. This is where we really need to understand why members are here, and if we want to get them from a certain point, we have to be a core part of making that happen.”

The common theme and connection with both potential paths is strategic clarity, Algar noted.

“There is a conviction in the everyday mission,” Algar said. “There is a consistency about what the business does, what it does not do and when it decides to do something, it executes to a very, very high level every single day.”



Great article!

Bryan O’Rourke Reveals What You Need to Know About Building a Leadership Legacy 

To show our appreciation for the industry leaders who support IHRSA’s efforts to Grow, Promote, and Protect the industry, IHRSA has launched the “ILC Spotlight series.” We hope this series will help you get to know more about our industry’s leaders, what they’ve learned along the way, and how they view leadership.


Health & Fitness Clubs: Automated CRM Software for Conversion and Engagement


CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, has helped more and more Fitness Clubs understand client behavior, generate leads, and convert and engage members.


CRM Software Technology Accessibility

In today’s market, prospective clients expect much more for their membership dollar. CRM software combines the marketing, sales, and customer service sectors into one automated program. It was at one time perceived that CRM software was an option only available to large franchises and substantial operations. Fortunately for mid-level and smaller clubs, this myth is quickly being exposed.

This technology is not only accessible to all clubs regardless of size, but it is the differentiator which gives the companies that use it a competitive edge which separates them from their competition.

Understanding who your target audience is, knowing them and their needs, is not a passing trend. It is a commitment to a new era of engagement that customers now expect from their Health & Fitness Club membership. CRM software tracks, measures, and records customer behavior. This allows for a focus to be made on making better decisions and nurturing more lucrative relationships. It increases the value of your service.

Benefits of Using CRM Software

The benefits of utilizing CRM software is manifold.

First, the software focuses on sales.

  • The basis of automated CRM software is lead generation and the retention of existing customers. The cost of finding new customers can be expensive, so focusing on retaining customers is absolutely invaluable. Long-term clients are profitable relationships.

Second, the software focuses on saving time.

  • CRM software automatically generates large volumes of data in regards to your existing members. This data includes targeted promotions which carry an extremely high success rate. It continues by generating large volumes of leads independently, allowing for successful membership opportunities in greater numbers. These two critical platforms are automated, thus, saving valuable time while creating a steady revenue stream.

Third, the software focuses on engagement and management.

  • The technology allows for greater sales management and customer service because of the vast amounts of intelligence CRM software provides. Engagement is also a primary focus, which leads to satisfied and longer lasting customers.