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Why Gym Memberships are Here to Stay: Leveraging the Resilience of Fitness Consumers

April 28, 2023

According to our recent market research, gym memberships are among the last things that fitness consumers are willing to give up in times of economic hardship. In fact, 46% of those surveyed – yes, almost half! – said they would absolutely not give up their club or studio membership if the economic situation were to worsen. More people said they would cut back on takeout or leisure travel than they did for their fitness spend.

Just…let that sink in.

For club and studio operators, this represents an important opportunity. By leveraging the resilience of fitness consumers, operators can attract and retain loyal customers even in challenging economic times. Today, we want to give you five actionable steps to help you capitalize on this sentiment:

Emphasize the community aspect of your gym or studio: One of the most important factors driving gym membership retention is a sense of community (another key area that was reinforced in our market research). People are more likely to continue their membership if they feel like they are part of a supportive and inclusive environment, so lean into this. Create social events and initiatives that bring members together and foster a sense of belonging. Host group workouts, organize community service projects, or simply provide a space where members can connect with each other. By emphasizing the community aspect of your gym or studio, you’ll create a loyal customer base that is less likely to leave, even in tough economic times.

Offer personalized services and support: In today’s world, consumers are seeking out personalized experiences in all areas of their lives. Fitness is no different, and expectations from consumers are growing. Focus hard on tailoring your services to meet the unique needs and preferences of your members. This could involve offering deeper, more personalized training plans, tailored nutritional guidance, or customized workout programs that cater to specific goals and fitness levels. By providing the most personalized services and support you possibly can, you’ll create a more engaging and effective experience for your members that increases the likelihood of them sticking with you.

Highlight the long-term benefits of fitness and wellbeing: Fitness is not just about immediate results; it’s about long-term health and wellbeing. You know this – you live this! – so make sure your club does too. Emphasize the positive impact exercise has on mental health, stress levels, and overall quality of life. By continually reinforcing the long-term benefits of fitness and wellbeing, you can help members view their membership as an investment in their long-term health (so much more than just another expense). This will increase the perceived value of what you offer and make it significantly more likely that your members will tighten their belts in other areas instead.

Create flexible membership options: In uncertain economic times, consumers can be hesitant to commit to long-term memberships. If you don’t offer something like this already, consider creating more flexible membership options that allow members to pay for services on a monthly or quarterly basis. By providing more flexibility and reducing the financial burden of being a member of your club, you’ll make it more accessible to a wider range of people. This won’t just help you retain more members; it will likely even grow your business – even in challenging economic conditions.

Leverage technology to enhance the member experience: Technology is an integral part of our daily lives, and it’s no different when it comes to fitness. Operators who embrace technology can (read: will) improve their member experience, streamline operations, and ultimately stand out from the competition. Let’s use ABC Fitness’s market-leading IGNITE platform as an example of the kind of impact the right technology can make.

With IGNITE, members can access workout plans, track their progress, and receive tailored recommendations based on their preferences and performance. With the ability to also offer virtual classes, this deep level of personalization and meeting people where they’re at increases engagement and connection with your club.

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IGNITE also offers tools to completely streamline your operations, such as easy class booking, automated member communication, and tracking member progress. By automating routine tasks, you save a stack of time that can be reinvested into delivering an even more personalized and engaging experience for your members. Plus, with real-time analytics, you can track key metrics and make data-driven decisions to continually improve.

When you leverage technology like IGNITE you create a seamless and modern experience for your members, and improve engagement, retention, and – ultimately – revenue. In less settled economic conditions, the right technology partner has never been more important.

To conclude: gym memberships are here to stay. Now is the time to leverage the resilience of fitness consumers by emphasizing the community aspect of your club, doubling down on the level of personalization and support you provide, highlighting the long-term benefits of fitness and wellbeing whenever you can, creating the most flexible membership options possible, and leveraging the best technology to enhance your member experience.
The changing economy is bringing some headwinds, but by implementing the right strategies – and partnering with the right technology platform – you and your club can sail into them with confidence.

(Want a conversation with us about how IGNITE can help prepare your club for a less certain economy? Drop us a line today!)