Winning back gym members that have left or fitness clients that have cancelled is a smart business strategy. You might be surprised to know that it’s actually easier to sell to former customers than it is to attract new ones. So, whether you run a gym, health club, or personal training business, it’s worth having a plan to convert lapsed clients.

In this article – learn how to win back gym members and fitness clients using 5 proven strategies.

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 successfully promote their businesses, so our marketing strategies are tried and tested. You can be confident that the ideas and approaches we share in our articles are proven to work in the real world.

#1 – Understand & Address Why People Leave

The first step to winning back gym members is understanding why they left in the first place. If those reasons are still in place, then it’ll be hard to convince them to return. But if you can address them, then those barriers to rejoining will have been removed.

Create a post-cancellation survey that’s automatically sent to everyone who leaves. Ask them about their main reason for cancelling so that you have tangible data about their rationale. Review the results regularly and look for patterns, then create a plan to address them.

If you don’t have time or resources to do this, then use industry benchmarks. According to IHRSA research, cost and lack of usage are two of the top reasons people leave gyms. So, offering payment plans and habit-forming fitness challenges are just two strategies that can tempt them back.

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For example, the fitness industry struggled post-Covid as people were hesitant to rejoin gyms. Research showed that their main concerns were about hygiene and uncertainty about the future. So, gyms and fitness studios devised smart strategies to address these concerns.

They used social media to showcase their cleaning efforts (and distancing measures too). Posting images, videos, and member testimonials about the cleanliness of their clubs helped reassure people. As a result, membership numbers started to bounce back for many gyms and studios.

#2 – Email Former Gym Members Regularly

Most gyms stop marketing to members as soon as they leave, but this is a mistake. Keeping in touch with previous customers enables you to maintain and nurture the relationship. It also ensures you’re the first gym they think of when they decide to start training again.

Create an email list of all your former members and customers. Then send fortnightly email newsletters that are packed with educational content and deliver lots of value. Sprinkle in some promotional offers on a regular basis that’ll encourage subscribers to rejoin.

You might also like… Our guide to email marketing for gyms, fitness studios, and health clubs.

#3 – Offer Day Passes

Offer day passes to former gym members so that they can experience your club. Doing this enables them to try out any new equipment, see your cleaning programme in action, or any other changes that you’ve made since they left. It can be the kick-start they need to start working out regularly again!

Remember not to diminish the value of your memberships by offering them for free. Assign a price tag to them, even if you decide to discount or offer them as complimentary. Make sure people know the value of the pass even if they don’t have to pay for it, to minimise objections about price later on. 

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#4 – Create a Script

Speaking of objections, it can be helpful to create a script for handling sales calls to former members. This way your sales team will know exactly what to say and how to deal with frequently asked questions.

Write out the key talking points that your membership sales team need to make. Then add a section on the most common objections and how to respond to them. These usually relate to lack of time, price, or concerns about getting results.

It can be really helpful to get your sales team involved in the creation of this script. Tap into their collective wisdom and experience by crowd-sourcing responses from them. They’ll have first-hand experience of dealing with these questions and know what kind of approaches are most effective.

#5 – Be Flexible

Uncertainty about the future can be another barrier for many gym members. In some countries, they don’t know if more lockdowns will happen and whether they’ll be able to fully use their membership. So, be as flexible with membership commitments as possible.

Short term gym memberships or studio session bundles can help. They directly address the objections around commitment and uncertainty.

Considering offering a monthly pass or 15-session bundle in addition to your usual membership options. This provides more flexibility so a greater number of members will continue paying (instead of cancelling all together).

Fitness Marketing Fundamentals [Online Course]

How To Win Back Gym Members

All gyms face a challenge in getting members to return. But these five approaches can help you address client concerns and misgivings. Understanding their reasoning, emailing them regularly, offering day passes, creating a sales script, and staying flexible will all have a positive effect on retention.

Fitness Business Templates & More

Our ready-made templates make it quicker, cheaper, and easier to promote your fitness business. They can improve the effectiveness of your sales and marketing campaigns. If you aren’t an experienced marketer, then templates also provide a useful guide for you to follow.

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Fitness Business Templates

60+ ready-made sales, marketing, lead gen & client training templates to help you promote & run your fitness business.

Whether you run a gym club, fitness studio, or personal training business, these templates will save you time and effort. They’ll help you to plan and organize your promotional activities so that you generate more revenue. You’ll get 60+ templates covering sales, marketing, lead gen, client training, and business start-up resources.

How To Get Gym Members Back Into Fitness Clubs

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.