Motivate! – the Mantra for Building Club Membership

The fall can be a dangerous time for clubs and their members. Suddenly kids are back in school, schedules have been upended and some members find it harder to get to the gym. Others, used to outdoor summer activities, struggle with a mindset shift as cooler weather means a return to indoor routines. And all of that, can pose a risk of member drop off ahead of the coming expense of the busy holiday season.

For clubs looking to finish the fiscal year strong and retain members going into 2023, one thing is critical for fourth quarter success: motivating members. How do we keep frequent attending members coming back for more? What ideas and tools can get others off the fence and in through the door throughout the coming season? As you consider your plan of attack, make member motivation the number one goal and consider these three strategies for fall – as well as year-round – success.


Create community with offerings and perks

Studies show when members workout with a friend, they stick with a class or a workout and end up more successful in the long run. Socialization is a major component of motivation – it’s one of the top reasons members join and stay with a group fitness classes. But whether members are signing up for the latest class offering or just working out together, doing so with a friend motivates for three reasons: friends encourage each other to keep going and improve their form; they help each other show up consistently to class or the club; and they make each other more adventurous to try new activities, workouts and classes – whether they’re on-demand or in the club. Harness that organic member retention strategy and enhance it.

Offer seven-days-a-week, month-long buddy-passes to encourage more members to bring friends. That’ll help them stay on track but also could result in new memberships. Look for ways to build connection in your gym community: club-wide fitness challenges or healthy weight management initiatives, promotions and special events or giveaways targeted to member groups like running clubs, weekend cycling groups and pre-natal women’s workout classes or groups. Identifying distinct subsets of your membership community and their interests will help determine how to best engage them and help to offer ideas to build bonds between them and their friends.



Improve member comfort to motivate more

An IHRSA study showed as many as 20 percent of fitness club members don’t show up regularly because they feel out of place or uncomfortable at their gym. It’s important to demonstrate an inclusive, non-elite environment to every member from new sign-ups to the 20 year veteran who may think that their club is only focused on new recruits.

Your personal trainers and instructors can be an invaluable tool to help members feel welcome, seen and understood however long their tenure. Try conducting a month of free workshops and open-house events where instructors can preview to members what their classes involve and also require from participants in terms of ability and fitness.

When members feel comfortable enough they tend to sign up and attend. Or conduct a short series of free personal training for members within their first six months, where they can set goals for themselves with an expert and then follow a planned and personalized workout program for better success.


Use digital and social content to persuade and engage

Member testimonial or weekly quick tip videos from instructors and trainers can be easy and inexpensive engagement content to motivate all members. Try theming tips and advice content around trending classes or sports “moments” during the year – tennis and pickleball during the U.S. open, cycle class spotlights during the Tour de France, or winter workout tips made easy. Sharing digital content with members across social channels as well as your website, email newsletters and app keeps members informed, engaged and interacting with your club brand. And don’t forget about at home and on-the-go member motivation.



Make sure members know about the diversity of on-demand classes and workout content in your digital library from HIIT sessions they can try in a dedicated studio, anywhere in your club or in front of their own TV at home. For some clubs that means installing on-demand platforms in the open exercise areas of their gyms where members can work through daily, on-demand exercise circuits as well as become more familiar with digital content at their club. Or making instructor guided on-demand workouts available for people to use with cardio equipment.

However you promote your digital content to members know that it’s adding to their motivation in a couple of important ways: it’s showing them the sheer diversity of easy, convenient work out options and allowing them to try anything in their own time before they join a class or group activity.