Between Xbox, PS3 and Wii workouts, personal fitness trackers, boot camps, state-of-the-art home gym equipment and 'Skyper-cise', there are myriad ways for Americans to tackle fitness goals without a gym membership. Despite this, over 52.9 million Americans choose to join, and work out, at a club. They join with big fitness goals and great determination. The enthusiasm of a new fitness club member is almost palpable . . . for a few weeks.
After a while, enthusiasm often wanes. Many club members will continue paying for a facility they never use; some will show up less frequently, and others will cancel their membership altogether. The IHRSA estimates that over a third of gym members will stop attending during their first half year.
As fitness club professionals, it's our job to understand what attracts a person to a gym over all the other workout options. It's even more important to understand what keeps them motivated and coming back for more. We're in this business because we believe in what we do. And what we do provides people with a combination of value that can't be gotten anywhere else.
Why Do People Join Gyms?
A gym offers a combination of benefits. Though some of these benefits are found in other activities, 'the gym' is a place where they can all come together. Among other things, gyms are the top choice for many because:
- ·They offer in-person, face-to-face support.
- ·They offer motivation, both in their busy, fitness-forward surroundings and their staff.
- ·They provide both formal and informal feedback.
- ·They provide human contact and a social atmosphere.
- ·Gyms have all the modalities covered in one place, plus a great variety of options within those modalities.
- ·People believe that by pre-paying for the experience, they're more likely to not blow off their workouts.
- ·Most gyms offer classes. According to research by the IHRSA (International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association), people who attend regular classes at a fitness club are more likely to continue their memberships long term.
- ·A gym can be a great place to meet friends for a workout, pushing each other to stick to a mutual commitment.
- ·Attentive, interactive staff and instructors can be very motivating. Though there are lots of reasons to join a gym, perhaps the most powerful reason, and a repeating theme in the list above, is that people want to have expectations to live up to. And, they want to be told when they're doing it.
Why Do Members Stop Going To Gyms?
Generally, a member's first few weeks at a gym delivers on all or most of the above. But what happens when those first few weeks are up, and a member starts to feel like they are blending into the crowd? Don't stress. It isn't you. It's human nature. And in a busy fitness club environment, It's hard to keep that one-and-one, honeymoon kind of attention going for every member at all times. Fear not, though. We have got some great ideas for you.
We have heard of (and thought of) some successful ways to keep members more involved and more dedicated. From some far-out creative membership perk initiatives to the most effective uses of social media, coming soon, We will bring you . . . How to keep the gym love going . . . and growing.
(Comment below to share some of your thoughts with us, too. We'll include some of our favorites in our follow-up story.)