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Boost Retention

My involvement in the wellness industry over the last 19 years has provided me with opportunities to help people achieve their fitness goals. I know you have had the same experiences: the joy, elation and exuberance clients feel when they are able to lift a predetermined amount of weight or wear certain size clothes again.

The rewards you receive from helping them through this process are probably one of the reasons you got into this business in the first place.

Helping your members achieve goals in other areas of their life can be a natural progression of what we do and a way to keep members enrolled at clubs. As fitness professionals we are already viewed as consultants to which our clients are accountable. After experiencing the power of goal setting in my own life, I decided to share this information with the members of the facility where I work, as well as my coworkers. The results were impressive. While this is not a difficult process (and in fact, it should be fun and exciting one), not everyone is familiar with the steps involved.

Realizing that wellness is a holistic concept is paramount. It's true that when you have your health you have everything and that is certainly the main focus of our business. However, there are six additional “spokes on the wheel” that need our attention in addition to the “body/health spoke.” These include our mental and emotional well-being, spiritual health, the stability and quality of our relationships, the environment in which we live and work, satisfaction with career/continuing education and finally how financially sound we are. These spokes need to be relatively balanced for life to run smoothly and for us to be able to handle the bumps in the road. Honestly evaluating each of these seven areas of life on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being highest priority) can be an eye opening experience. Awareness can be a powerful tool that can be turned into a retention tool as well. If your staff helps a member realize there is an area of life that needs attention it then becomes a joint responsibility to deal with it.


As fitness professionals we must help our clients generate goals in any area that is lacking in their life. Each goal they set must be a SMART goal. It must be specific. The more detailed, the better. It must be measurable. How will your members know if they've achieved a goal (modify “save more money” to a measurable “save $500 this year”)? It must be attainable. Do they and your club/staff have all of the tools necessary to make this a reality? It must be realistic. Sure your member might have the ability to eventually run a marathon, but realistically, with a newborn and a new job, will they? Finally, it must be timed. A deadline gets results. It creates urgency, it sharpens thinking and it helps make things happen.

After generating SMART goals in a variety of areas of your life, we then teach clients to break them down into smaller, more manageable, timed activities called action plans — much as we do with our own business goals. Implementing an action plan will probably require members to rearrange their life in some way. This will require careful planning and forethought. Think through and write down every step that needs to be taken in order for your members to achieve goals by your deadline. Give each intermediate step its own deadline and plan for interruptions.

In working through this process with clients you will be seen as an ally in their pursuit of a balanced, joyful life. Personal growth is enhanced by mutually beneficial relationships that support growth. When they experience success your members will remember that your staff and your organization are a big part of the reason they have achieved life success. You will have strengthened a bond and spread some good Karma.

Tracy Stebbins holds a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology and has been the Director of Wellness at Clay County Medical Center in West Point, Mississippi for nine years.

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