CONTENT BROUGHT TO YOU BY: Cybex
On average, it is estimated that 50 percent of new members in your gym will remain after six months, and clubs report that most members visit once a week or less. Keeping members motivated to stay committed to their fitness goals is the ongoing challenge for fitness club professionals.
Here are six effective ways to help your members continue to be champions of their lives and your brand.
1. Encourage them to track their results. Members are more likely to stay committed to a plan if they see progress. Encourage them to track their workouts by documenting their activities—machines used, weight levels, reps and cardio workouts. In addition to helping them remember what they've done, it's a useful guide to show their accomplishments and progress, which is a great motivator to keep going.
Offering member logbooks or workout sheets to be kept at the reception desk is a valuable service showing your club's dedication to their meeting their goals. There also are many free fitness tracking apps for members who wish to track their results electronically. Having links available on your club's website makes it easier for them to locate and encourages trial. In addition, promoting the use of popular mobile tracking devices helps both functionally and motivationally.
Baseline fitness testing also is key for anyone beginning a new program to establish where they are and to track their progress over time. This should be done with the help of a fitness professional with achievable goals defined at the onset. Re-testing is just as important, as changes to workouts can be made based on progress to date, keeping members on track for success.
2. Get members to participate in a collaborative event. Creating positive challenges and rallying the club's fitness family encourages a community feel and adds a strong boost of camaraderie, without having winners and losers.
Challenges are a creative and positive way to get participants to join others in a collective commitment and be part of something bigger. It helps individuals stay on track with the support from other members on the same path without the focus on them as individuals.
Use seasonal or popular topics to get members interested in the challenge. For example, around the Boston or New York City marathons, challenge members to run or walk one or more miles of the marathon on a treadmill until the full distance is completed. Post the names of the participants for every leg of the challenge and showcase it in a high visibility area of the club. Developing and promoting regular challenges keeps fitness fun and fresh but also supports working as a team toward a goal.
3. Foster a community of supportive friends. This means encouraging your members to join together digitally via social media but also within the gym itself. Promote dialogue and inclusion by asking their opinions about the gym and sharing ideas to enhance their fitness experience. The stronger the fabric of the community—making it their gym, their friends and their fitness family—the more inclined members will be to stay, renew and recommend others to join.
A great way to jump-start this is to create a success board for members to record when they have reached a personal goal. Post the achievements each week on social media or in a prominent place within your gym.
'Smart' Goals and Other Tips
4. Help members set SMART goals. Work with your members on setting SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Establishing clearly defined goals helps members get the most out of their experience and keeps them focused on the things that will allow them to reach those goals. Determine the kind of goal for each member, whether it is performance, process or outcome-based. Let's look at those three types of goals:
Performance goals: Goals set using an objective or measurable standard with a specific due date. Performance goals are the goals with which you may have the most familiarity and are longer term. The research includes use of a wide range of time frames, but "long-term" for recreational exercisers often means six to 12 weeks.
Clients who identifiy their own challenging performance goals, show that they value the goals and have a strategy for attaining the goals are more likely to achieve them. An easy way to think about performance goals is that a performance goal is the destination you enter on the GPS—you enter a specific address and you have a specific time to get there.
Process goals: Think of these as the "how"—the strategy of how the performance goal will be achieved. Process goals are the directions on the GPS. These are step-by-step, short-term, specific tasks meant to achieve an end. Once completed, they will put you on the doorstep of your performance goal. Process goals can be reset from session to session or week to week. As soon as each standard is met, a new process goal is formulated. The efficacy of process goals may be because of more frequent positive reinforcement or may be because of the increased competence that comes with seeing progress.
Outcome goals: Achievement is measured by comparison to other people. Individuals have the least amount of control in achieving these goals because they rely on who else shows up and how these others perform. If the GPS metaphor is used here, outcome goals are highly affected by traffic, and most people find traffic frustrating rather than motivating.
Incorporating performance and process goals can support your client's motivation and commitment. When he or she meets a hard-earned performance goal, you can say, "You have arrived at your destination!" After some celebration, be ready with your next question: "Where do you want to go next?"
Also, encourage members to map out key milestones on the way to their bigger goals. For example, losing 50 pounds is difficult to reach, but breaking it up into smaller milestones makes it less overwhelming and seemingly easier to achieve.
5. Use encouraging language. Personal trainers are essentially fitness coaches, experts sought to help people with their fitness plans. Simple positioning of these experts allows a mind shift, as "coaching" implies an elevated experience that is engaging and beneficial because it feels like you are working together toward a common goal, whereas "training" may feel more like a chore, or something that members are being "made" to do. A simple shift in language or word choice may be all it takes for the dialogue to become more productive between your trainers and clients, as well as change the attitude of all of your clients.
6. Teach rather than tell. Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime. Providing simple and clear explanations about why trainers are asking members to perform certain movements helps to not only inform, but also build the trainers' credibility with clients and form a trusted bond.
To do this, educate in small, appropriate doses, respectfully treating clients as students. Know where they are in their learning level and build their knowledge gradually based on their interest, not your knowledge.
Education provides empowerment, and armed with the right tools, techniques and knowledge, your members should be able to share their plans and information with others, thus helping them and recruiting others as your brand ambassadors for success.
So, how do you know this is working? Review your membership retention, referrals and renewal rates in a six-month period and note the changes from when you started on your journey to increased member engagement.
Also, listen for member feedback and keep the lines of dialogue open while being responsive on a timely basis to their input. Pretty soon, you will be on your way to fostering the community of happy and engaged members who share their positive experience with others, and in turn, grow your business.
For more information on education, staff training and member retention, please click here.
The Cybex Research Institute, the research arm of Cybex International, Medway, MA, investigates both existing products and future concepts to ensure designs are optimized for the best fitness results and educates the public and trainers on the safe and effective use of Cybex machines.