Getting fit tops the list of New Year’s resolutions for many people, but as any gym or leisure centre manager knows, talk doesn’t always translate into action.

Research suggests that while around two thirds of Australians resolve to get healthier and fitter on New Year’s Eve (Australian Institute of Management Survey 2019), a large proportion will give up on their fitness dreams by the end of January (Gear Junkie).

Many fitness facilities find that by the middle of February the New Year’s rush on memberships has subsided and the number of people walking through their doors has fallen back to the same levels as the year before.

The solution to this age-old problem is a strong retention strategy – a plan to build loyalty among new members and keep them motivated for long enough to form a lasting fitness-habit.

To help get your creative juices flowing, we’re sharing our top five ideas to keep new members coming back for more.

Offer incentives to keep members motivated

You’ve got people signed up as members and through the door for their first visit, but how do you keep them coming back? Sometimes an incentive provides all the motivation they need.

This could involve anything from complimentary personal trainer sessions to prizes for attending a certain number of classes in a week. Another option is to incentivise people to refer or bring a friend. This could take the form of letting people bring a friend to experience your gym free of charge for two or three sessions, or a discount on membership if somebody mentions a current member as their referrer. People are more likely to keep coming if they have somebody else to go with, so this is win-win.

Make your gym environment enjoyable

Great interactions with staff. Good equipment. A clean environment. Simple booking and check-in processes. These are all vital ingredients for a high quality and enjoyable fitness centre experience.

Getting any of them wrong can turn customers off, so it’s worth taking the time to train staff well and put in place systems that make back-office tasks easy for staff and the gym-experience painless for members.

Using leisure club management software like Envibe can speed up administrative and operational processes so staff have more time to interact with customers face to face. It can also reduce pain points for customers by making it easy for them to book classes, manage their membership online, and check-in quickly when they arrive at your facility.

Presenting your class schedule in an easy-to-use format can help too, so customers don’t have to go searching every time they want to find out what’s coming up.

Help new members set realistic goals

How often have you heard someone say they have turned a page and plan to run or attend the gym after work every single day from now on? One of the dangers of New Year’s resolutions is that they are often set during a period of wild optimism, with little thought put into exactly how they will be achieved. People overreach and come up with resolutions that are unrealistic or unlikely to fit with their lifestyle.

If you can help new members set realistic goals for the number of sessions they will attend each week, and provide them with programs that provide variety and achievable challenges, you’re halfway towards keeping them coming back.

Build a community

Building a community is a great way to keep people engaged. Some gyms and fitness centres do this effectively during classes, where the same people turn up each week and develop strong friendships. Other facilities use social media and weekly or monthly challenges to encourage people to share their fitness progress and cheer each other on.

For example, you might give people a 30-day challenge, with different exercises or tasks on each day. Participants could be encouraged to post to Facebook and Instagram about their progress, using a hashtag relevant to your gym or fitness centre. This will get people talking, build community, and help members develop that all-important fitness habit.

Keep in touch with new members

Last, but definitely not least, it’s vital to keep in touch with new members. This can be done via email, SMS, or even social media – the important thing is to stay front of mind and let members know they really do matter to you. Don’t forget to thank them for choosing you, and make sure to let them know about upcoming classes, events, and other opportunities you think they might be interested.

Jonas Leisure’s Envibe leisure club management software has a built-in messaging platform that makes it simple to keep in touch with members using email and SMS. You can even set up ‘triggers’ to automatically email members when they first join up, or on their birthday, or use SMS messages to remind people about upcoming classes or let them know a class time has changes.

By viewing your customers’ attendance records and other insights Envibe provides, you can increase the chances that your communications will be relevant to them and make it worth their time to open the messages you send their way.