Anyone who has tried to go to the gym the week after the new years has experienced the insane rush of “New Year’s Resolution” gym-goers. At first it seems that this group has discovered (or rediscovered) a resolve to shed that extra holiday weight, but by mid-February, this resolve clearly disappears and just as quickly as they showed up, they stop coming.
While it is common knowledge that it takes about 21 days for a repeated activity to become a habit, more recent research has found that the process is much longer; on average, it takes about 66 days for a habit to form. This means that to retain New Year's’ members, you have to keep them coming back for about 2 to 3 months.
Here are some simple but powerful ways to help these members become seasoned, self-motivated regulars.
1. Never Train Alone
Countless studies have found that working out with a partner or in a group has many benefits compared to working out alone. Having a workout partner as a spotter greatly increases member safety. Partners also motivate each other by holding each other accountable to a workout schedule. No one wants to be the partner who skips leg days!
One way to encourage new members to find partners is creating incentives for partnerships. You could create a contest where partner teams receive a raffle ticket each day they sign in together or offer rewards and discounts if a customer enlists and sticks with a partner. This can be done by hand, but challenges, rewards and discounts can also be easily recorded digitally if your gym has its own mobile app.
2. Incentivise PT and Group X Classes
For members who don’t like working out with friends, personal training could be a great alternative. Offer free or discounted month-long personal training sessions for new members. It’s much harder for members to rationalize excuses for not attending if they have a set appointment time, especially if they quickly see results.
If your gym does offer group exercise classes, then you’re missing out as they can be key places for your members to stay motivated and form lasting friendships. Group X members will keep each other accountable for showing up and push each other to work harder. Don’t underestimate the power of not wanting to fall behind their friends’ progress. If you can keep the same group members coming back together, eventually a powerful community will form at your gym.
3. Make Your Gym a Place to Workout, Not Worry
For newcomers, gyms can be a very intimidating place. Many can be very nervous about misusing equipment, using embarrassingly wrong exercise form or being judged by the “regulars.” One way to combat this is to take steps to ensure your gym atmosphere is as supportive and friendly as possible. The New Year’s member already has a hundred excuses to not come back in, you don’t want your club atmosphere to become another.
For example, just encouraging your staff to learn as many first names as possible can be a huge morale boost for members. Don’t underestimate the power of a small greeting, such as “Glad to see you again, Tim!” in motivating members to come back. Another easy idea is to send customers an email or push alert if they have not signed into your gym for a week—you could even offer a discounted training session to get them back.
While it won’t happen overnight, following these 3 simple tips will start the process of turning your gym into a community of friends. New Year’s Resolutioners will feel welcome, excited and motivated to keep coming back into February and beyond.
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