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4 Ways to Beat the Summer Slowdown

The dreaded summer season is upon us. Most fitness clubs expect it; owners, managers, and sales staff fear it. With the weather heating up, people want to take their workouts outside – so, they quit. Or, equally as frustrating, they come try your club and say they will join in the Fall. The whole process leaves us with fewer members and less revenue.

But, how can we avoid the regular summer slowdown and keep the dollars flowing in these historically quiet months? Here are a few ideas that you can put into play in your club.

  1. Increase Retention

The easiest way to keep membership revenue high is to maintain the members you already have.

  • Create challenges or other fun activities to keep current members engaged. Stay ahead of the regular summer cancellations by starting a 12-week challenge. Weight loss challenges and group training for a team fitness event like a Spartan Race or a 10K are great ways to keep your members involved and motivated during the summer.


  • Reward attendance. Use whatever you have in your arsenal to reward members for hitting specific attendance goals. Examples like credits to use toward retail, complimentary personal training sessions, or a shirt with the club’s name and logo, will all motivate members to use the facility more often. Worked out 12 times in July? You get a half-hour training session. The obvious added bonus here is more personal training revenue once the member realizes how great it is to get that one-on-one attention.


  • Host events that aren’t fitness related. Summer is a social time, so encourage your members to socialize with you, the staff, and most importantly, each other. If you have a pool, throw a pool party. If you have outdoor space, get out a grill and host a cookout. Limited on space or amenities? Treat your members to coffee and snacks or a live DJ in club. The possibilities here are endless.
  1. Take advantage of the Great Outdoors

Your members want to be out in the nice weather, so take them outside.

  • Take your workouts outdoors. Many group fitness classes can easily be moved outside. Imagine your early morning or evening yoga class is now “sunrise” or “sunset” yoga. Map out an area around your club and form running and walking clubs. Get your members really excited about their bootcamp by having them flip tires or use an agility ladder in the grass outside.


  • Increase lead generation at outdoor events. Summer is the best time to sponsor or take part in events that individuals in your target market are already attending. Look for opportunities to sponsor or set up a table at fundraisers, local runs, golf outings, farmers markets, or even just outside your own front door.
  1. Increase Non-membership Revenue

Even if membership numbers drop, the money coming in does not have to decrease. Find ways to encourage your top 20% to spend on products and services to generate more income.

  • Focus on personal training or small group training. Start early and promote your trainers like crazy. If they have a niche, start spreading the word. Do you have a trainer that runs triathlons? Talk them up. Pick one or two trainers to specialize in weight loss or sports training. Offer free assessments to new members or check in with those that have been at the club for six months or a year and might have plateaued. This gives your trainers more opportunities to sell packages to current members and find out how they are doing with their personal goals.
  • Bring in more revenue through retail sales. Offer new, seasonal items, combined with retail dollars or discounts for attendance. Celebrate milestones or holidays with a discount drawing, where members draw from a hat or spin a wheel for a percentage off retail items, just for showing up to work out. Everyone loves to save money and will often buy more if they see the discount as a limited time “prize.” This also gets your staff talking to every member about retail and creating stronger relationships.
  1. Find New Members

While there may not be prospects breaking down the door, there are still prospects to be found.

  • Short-term members can fill a short-term void. If your club has members that often quit for the summer and come back in the fall, or even just freeze for those three months, filling their place with a short-term membership is not a bad deal. Being open to those that can’t sign a year commitment can leave you with less competition. It also gives you some easy targets to focus on. Students are often looking for the flexibility of a short contract. Teachers also may not make the time during the year but want to work out in the summer.


  • Take advantage of social media. These days, most of your members are active on one of the many social media platforms. Use those avenues by hosting contests for check-ins, reviews, tags, etc. Since it’s summer, they will be looking cute and posting workout selfies already. Create a game or offer a drawing for posts that put you in front of their networks. Also, take advantage of paid social media advertising. Put your brand where everyone already is. Social media marketing is a relatively inexpensive way to reach a very targeted market segment in a place they feel comfortable and are likely to interact – it just must be done the right way.


  • Referrals, Referrals, Referrals. No matter what time of year it is, the best way to bring in new members is through your current ones. Create raving fans by providing amazing service and then reward those fans for telling their friends about you. In the summer, offering an extra incentive for bringing in a new member is a great idea. Consider offering a complimentary group training session for current members if they bring a friend, or have a “friends workout free” weekend. Remember that closing percentages for prospects that are referred by current members are much higher than any other lead source.

With so many great ways to keep your club thriving through the summer, know you can get through without stressing too much about the slowdown. Clubs that are proactive about making the best of the summer can not only “make it,” but flourish, and put themselves in a much stronger position for the upcoming busy season.

Jon Butts is the Founder & President of Muscle Up Marketing. He has over a decade of fitness marketing experience, helping over 1,800 clubs and studios across the United States and Canada increase their membership through innovative omnichannel campaigns. Muscle Up Marketing has been named one of the Fastest Growing Companies in America the last four years (Inc 5000), as well as a Best Place To Work in Atlanta. In addition, Jon was named by Auburn University as their Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017 and was also named a Top 40 Under 40 Marketing Professional in the United States. For more information, visit www.muscleupmarketing.com or call 888-236-1190.