Are you using proven gym membership retention strategies to keep your health club clients loyal?

Retaining your existing customers is much more cost-effective than trying to attract new ones so it pays to keep them engaged. Not to mention the fact that loyalty is a sign that you’re running a successful business that’s truly delivering value to its customers. 

In this article – we share 21 powerful gym retention strategies that’ll keep your customers loyal for the long-term (including some innovative digital marketing ideas).

According to IHRSA Trend Reports, fitness club retention is most heavily influenced by price. It’s the #1 reason why members leave clubs. But dropping prices means devaluing your services and reducing profit margins.

So, what are the other options? How can you provide extra value without eating into your bottom line? If you’re already delivering great customer service and top-notch facilities, what else can you do to boost gym retention?

We’re a specialist fitness marketing agency with 15+ years of industry experience, so we know first-hand what works (and what doesn’t!). We’ve helped gyms, fitness studios, and personal trainers to keep members and clients loyal, so our strategies are tried and tested.

Let’s start by looking at some tried and tested gym retention ideas that’ll increase member loyalty…

  1. Improve Your Group Exercise Offering
  2. Provide Extra Value
  3. Position Health As An Investment
  4. Interact
  5. Utilise Email
  6. And Other Digital Tools
  7. Offer Post-Class Social Events
  8. Stay On Top Of Maintenance
  9. Question Existing Members
  10. Solve Their Problems
  11. Run Seminars
  12. Give Birthday Gifts
  13. Encourage Them To Try New Activities
  14. Promote Investments That You Make
  15. But Don’t Sell Too Much
  16. Show Your Personality
  17. Re-Target Previous Customers
  18. Engage Cold Leads
  19. Encourage Online Interaction
  20. Offer Gold Cards
  21. Create a Private Facebook Group

#1 – Improve Your Group Exercise Offering

People often stay because of the community. When they consider leaving, they worry they’ll lose their network of like-minded friends. Improving your group-ex offering encourages interaction and helps to build those friendships so that people are less likely to leave.

#2 – Provide Extra Value

Use your blog and social channels to provide even more value for money. Give members lots of juicy goodies, like recipes, exercise guidance, and training tips.

Tangible items in the form of downloadables are usually valued the most. So, offering free fitness ebooks, shopping lists, and cheat sheets can be really effective gym membership retention strategies.

Fitness Lead Magnet Ideas Pinterest

#3 – Position Health As An Investment

Your blog is also a great platform to educate members, so use its full potential. Help them see that investing in their health will pay off immediately, as well as in the future. Do this by summarising scientific studies about the short-term health benefits of exercise, as well as its impact on life expectancy.

However, you can’t get away with vague statements about generic health benefits. People have heard them too many times and just tune out. Instead, use specific data that quantifies the benefits such as…

#4 – Interact

No one likes to be ignored after the sale. So make sure your staff is trained to interact with ALL your members, not just the chatterboxes that are easy to approach. It’s one of the simplest yet most underused gym membership retention strategies there is. 

Fitness Marketing Ebook Tablet

Fitness Marketing Ideas Mini-Guide

25 fitness marketing ideas for your gym, studio, or online business. Attract new members, get more PT clients & boost your fitness blog.

#5 – Utilise Email

Use fitness email strategies to communicate with your members regularly about stuff they care about (not just self-promotional content). It’s one of many gym marketing ideas that can boost retention as well as sales. For bonus points, segment your database so you can send truly personalised emails.

US giant Life Time Fitness made an extra $600,000 using this health club email marketing strategy, but you can easily do it on a much smaller scale with a Podia or Mail account.

You might also like… How We Grew Our Email List Beyond 15,000 Subscribers (And You Can Too).

#6 – And Other Digital Tools

This totally works with SMS text messages too. Got an app? Then use push notifications too. Keeping your facility top of mind is a key component of high gym membership retention. 

#7 – Offer Post-Class Social Events

Keep it fun and informal. The boutique spinning studio BeCycle hold their ‘BeSocial’ class on Friday evenings, after which they all get ready together and go out for dinner or drinks.

#8 – Stay On Top Of Maintenance

Out-of-order machines or broken showers really annoy members. So keep everything in tip-top order, and be sure to get repairs done lightning-quick. If you don’t get the fundamentals like these right, then no amount of fitness member retention programs will help.

#9 – Question Existing Members

What’s their favourite thing about your facility? Then be sure to highlight it in all your marketing and promo activities going forward. You could do a survey, but just chatting with them face to face works well too!

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Fitness Marketing & Lead Generation Roadmap

Your All-in-One Toolkit to Attract, Engage & Convert More Clients

#10 – Solve Their Problems

People will remain loyal if you can solve their problems. Addressing common objections or FAQs is a great basis for helpful content. So make a list of barriers to a healthy lifestyle, and then create blog posts with ideas for overcoming them.

For example, lack of time is a huge barrier to exercise for most people. So create articles that include time-saving tips, short and sweet HIIT workouts, or quick weeknight meals.

If you can help remove their barriers to exercise, they’ll visit more often, and see more value in their membership. These can be really simple yet effective gym member retention strategies for health clubs and fitness studios.

#11 – Run Seminars

As gym membership retention ideas go, this is super-simple yet highly effective. Giving people additional value is a sure way to keep them loyal. So, why not run a 45-minute seminar on pre-triathlon nutrition, cycling techniques, or meditation for stress?

Oh, and make sure you encourage people to invite a friend for free, then collect all their details during registration. It’d be rude to miss the opportunity for a few new leads…

#12 – Give Birthday Gifts

We’re talking about an actual free gift on a member’s birthday, not some crappy 10% discount coupon that requires them to spend money first. A free massage, birthday smoothie, or nutrition kit, that’ll surprise and delight them. These kinds of genuine acts of kindness are what people talk about, and help generate positive word of mouth.

You might also like… Genius Gift Ideas For Fans of Health & Fitness.

#13 – Encourage Them To Try New Activities

This is a great way to get them to use their membership more often. In their subconscious, their ‘cost per visit’ is reduced as they attend more frequently. This, in turn, makes their membership seem better value (or less expensive) than it would do otherwise.

Fitness Marketing Ebook Tablet

Fitness Marketing Ideas Mini-Guide

25 fitness marketing ideas for your gym, studio, or online business. Attract new members, get more PT clients & boost your fitness blog.

So, be sure to promote new classes, workouts, or services via your blog and social channels. Describe the who, why, what, where, when, and how, so that members know everything they need to get started…

  • Who it’s ideal for
  • Why it’s beneficial for their health
  • What’s involved
  • Where it’s located
  • When it takes place or is available
  • How they can take part

You can also run regular fitness challenges that encourage people to explore new classes or types of training. A new activity might be just what it takes for someone to come back in and give the gym another try…

#14 – Promote Investments That You Make

If you spend money on new equipment or renovations, then use your marketing channels to let EVERYONE know. Call out exactly what the benefits to your members are, such as…

“Our brand new luxury changing rooms will have you refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to face whatever work or family throw at you”.

Help them to see that they’re getting more for their money. It might be obvious to you, but sometimes we need to spell out the link to make people truly appreciate the benefits. And not everyone will be aware that you’ve invested or upgraded, so tell as many people as possible.

#15 – But Don’t Sell Too Much

Follow the 80:20 rule here, so that 80% of your content is helpful, valuable, or entertaining. Limit sales promotions to a maximum of 20% (i.e. one in five posts).

If your goal is to increase gym member retention, then you’ll need to resist the temptation to upsell. There’s nothing wrong with mentioning your products or services, but they need to be positioned as beneficial (rather than a sales pitch).

How To Boost Loyalty Blog Pinterest

There’s a fine line and getting it wrong can backfire – instead of building loyalty, you’ll have undermined your authenticity and credibility. We recommend creating a content calendar ahead of time, to ensure you strike a balance between valuable and promotional blog posts.

#16 – Show Your Personality

Websites tend to be quite formal, with well-crafted content and considered calls to action. However, blogs and social profiles provide an opportunity to showcase more of your brand’s personality. They’re written from a human perspective rather than that of a business. And this personality is something that can keep members loyal because it creates a human connection.

According to Moosylvania, the business characteristics that matter to Millennials are…

High-quality products (75%)

Fits their personality (53%)

Social Responsibility (40%)

Shares similar interests (39%)

Says important things (31%)

So, use your marketing channels to talk about your values, what motivates you, and what you struggle with. Get excited about new trends, and be skeptical of diet fads, just as you would be in real life. Use the same kind of language that you would if talking to members in real life so that they form a genuine connection to you.

#17 – Re-Target Previous Customers

The majority of ex-members already know, like, and trust your business. So remind them of how much they used to love visiting and all the associated benefits.

#18 – Engage Cold Leads

Whilst you’re at it, contact all those people who came in but never actually bought. This may not technically be a retention strategy but it’ll still boost your bottom line. 

#19 – Encourage Online Interaction

Invite comments so that your blog and social media become two-way conversations. Regular communication and interaction will develop your client relationships. You’ll build bonds with members, develop an online community, and give people even more reason to stay loyal.

The more social bonds that a member has within a club, the less likely they are to leave. So, use your digital marketing to encourage conversations between your staff and members, as well as between members themselves. End your blog articles and social posts with a question or request member opinions in the comments section.

#20 – Offer Gold Cards

Give your existing members gold cards that allow them to bring a friend once or twice a month.

#21 – Create a Private Facebook Group

Inviting existing members to be part of it, will create a feeling of exclusivity and show that you’re providing additional value for free. Don’t use it to promote PT or products though. The sole purpose of this type of group should be to create a community by encouraging interaction. So post open-ended questions that invite contributions from members.

Fitness Marketing Ebook Tablet

Fitness Marketing Ideas Mini-Guide

25 fitness marketing ideas for your gym, studio, or online business. Attract new members, get more PT clients & boost your fitness blog.

So, there you have a comprehensive list of 21 gym member retention ideas that are proven to work. Implementing these will help your business to boost loyalty and reduce churn, resulting in greater profitability. 

Gym Membership Retention Strategies That Leverage Marketing

You may have noticed that many of these gym retention ideas involve digital marketing…

When you think of member retention, you probably don’t think of blogging or social media. Most gym websites and social profiles are created with selling in mind. The structure and content is designed to capture visitor’s contact details and encourage tour appointments.

In many cases, they aren’t updated regularly, and their main job is to generate leads for the membership sales team. Gyms that take this approach are missing a huge opportunity to keep members loyal.

62% of Millennials feel that online content drives their loyalty to a brand…

Yet the content they’re receiving is turning them off by not helping them navigate their everyday problems, being too long, sales-driven, and not tailoring messaging to individual cultural interests.

A blog is something entirely different. It’s a sub-section of your website that gets updated regularly and is designed with value in mind. Both blogs and social platforms encourage interaction, answer questions, build community, and provide valuable information. This makes these channels well-suited to establishing relationships with members so that they’re less inclined to leave.

This video outlines how health clubs and studios can use blogging and social media in their gym membership retention strategies…

A blog is a great platform to provide even more value, interact more regularly, and help members to fall in love with your brand. And it’s these aspects that will help you build loyalty and increase gym member retention.

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Fitness Marketing & Lead Generation Roadmap

Your All-in-One Toolkit to Attract, Engage & Convert More Clients

Get The Fitness Marketing Roadmap

Your All-in-One Toolkit to Attract, Engage, and Convert More Clients – Tailored Specifically for Fitness Businesses Like Yours!

The Fitness Marketing & Lead Generation Roadmap is a comprehensive resource designed for gyms, personal trainers, and online fitness businesses. It’s packed with video workshops, marketing templates, step-by-step guides, cheat sheets, and more. We cover:

  • Fitness Marketing Strategy: Build a solid foundation and plan for success.
  • Lead Generation: Attract more clients with effective tactics.
  • Social Media: Boost your online presence and engagement.
  • Email Marketing: Nurture leads and convert them into loyal customers.
  • Advertising & Promotion: Get your message out there efficiently.
  • Content Marketing: Create compelling content that resonates with your audience.
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Caroline @ Wellness Creative Co

Qualified personal trainer (BSc Sports Science) & nutritionist (MSc Human Nutrition) with 15+ years of fitness & wellness marketing experience working with global brands.