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Previous research showed that members who are classified as promoters were more likely to retain their membership across a period of two years compared to members who were defined as passives and detractors.

Once Per Week Group Exercisers Are More Loyal Than More Frequent Gym-Only Members

Not only are group exercisers more loyal than non-group exercisers, but the study also found that members who have multiple reasons for visiting the health club are more loyal than those who have one reason to visit.

Health club members who take just one group exercise class per week are 20 percent more likely to be loyal club promoters than members who attend three times per week and do not do group exercise, according to a new study by the Customer Engagement Academy (CEA). CEA is a partnership between Dr Melvyn Hillsdon and TRP.

In the study, a loyal club promoter was defined by the net promoter score methodology.

Previous research from the partnership showed that members who are classified as promoters were more likely to retain their membership across a period of two years compared to members who were defined as passives and detractors, according to a media release from TRP.

The study also found that even though the type of activity a member takes part in when they visit has proven to have a significant impact on their loyalty, visit frequency is important, too. Forty-eight percent of members who take part in just group exercise on average three times per week were classified as promoters compared to only 36 percent of members who take part in group exercise on average of less than once per week.

Members who cited four or more reasons for coming into the club (5 percent of those in the study) were more than twice as likely to be a promoter than those citing one reason (48 percent of those in the study). This finding shows the need to encourage more members to take part in a variety of activities in your club, and the tangible benefit of doing so, according to the CEA.

Across the board, likeliness to be a promoter decreased the longer an individual remained a member, indicating that either member expectations increase with tenure, the service and overall experience received by members declines with tenure, or a combination of the two, according to CEA.

This finding shows that it is important not to take your ‘regulars’ for granted, although Chris Stevenson, who is owner and founder of Los Angeles-based club Stevenson Fitness as well as CEO honorary vice president, said that there is no such thing as “regulars.” In fact, he calls that term a “dirty word” in his business.

“At our facility, we coach all our staff that no one is a ‘regular’ because human nature tells us that we are always going to focus on the new starters if we think like that,” he said. “Instead, we ask them to pretend it is everyone’s first day and to treat them accordingly. This forces them to adopt the mindset that these longer-standing members are still important and therefore continuing to make them feel special is just as important as making the new people feel that way.”

Dr Melvyn Hillsdon, who was the lead researcher on the project and who is CEA honorary president and associate professor sport and health sciences at University of Exeter (UK), said: "Members visit their clubs for different reasons, and these reasons are related to the likelihood that they will be promoters of your club. The more reasons people have for visiting clubs, the more likely they are to be a club promoter, especially if one of their main reasons for visiting involves group exercise. New members tend to start with just the gym and need help to explore all that the club has to offer—in particular, group exercise. Long-standing members are less likely to be club promoters and need re-energizing on a regular basis to make them feel valued and to stop their membership [from] becoming stale. Constantly giving people new and rewarding reasons to visit clubs will increase the chances they promote them to others.”

The full report is available to download free of charge in the CEA section of the TRP website, here.

Editors' Note: For more on trends in the fitness industry, visit the Trends section of Club Industry's website and attend the Technology and Trends track of the 2018 Club Industry Show. 

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