Gyms just aren't working hard enough on retention

January. That means every single person in the entire universe will join a gym.

Most of those who join will be dormant by February, and many of them will have cancelled the subscription by March.

Does life just in the way? Or are gyms just not doing enough to help members stick to their resolutions?

What if your gym actually helped and encouraged you - or gave you a twelve week plan to hit your goals and then coached and managed you through it, all via that device you’re so attached to? 

These days you can be get coached by apps, watches, YouTube - in fact, everyone but the gym. Are gyms missing their biggest opportunity to increase retention and stretch average membership lengths because they are focused on the wrong thing. 

Google ‘lose weight in twelve weeks’ and see how many gyms come up in the search engines. Or, I’ll just tell you. None.

What if gyms didn’t just get your direct debit form then leave you to it? 

What about taking the average gym membership tenure (now annual contracts are a thing of the past) and producing target and maintenance programmes that extend that, increasing retention and decreasing attrition rates?

Instead of the constant race to the bottom of the cost spectrum, what about gym groups thinking about value for their members, about how they can help them achieve their goals, rather than expecting them to default to Joe Wicks, Men’s Health or a £200 a month personal trainer. 

What about creating online communities that can encourage and if they want, compete against, each other - all based around an associated gym or gym group? Or rewarding fitness and weight loss with an experience? 

Our three C’s model: emotional Connections, compelling Content and growing Communities, is based around turning transactional relationships like this one, into shared experiences that provide more value to the consumer, increasing retention and positive brand equity, ultimately delivering increased ROI. 

It could be the perfect use of a branded app or the ideal opportunity to gamify the experience – what brands like Nike +, or even Vitality, have done so well: gamify and reward. The results - consumers are fully inhabiting their brand world, with daily brand exposure, increased positive outcomes and even advocacy. 

In a market where the model relies on expensive locations and cheap fees, it might be something to think about, eh?

Chris Falconer