What are the Best Ways to Boost Membership Retention?

Your gym’s greatest asset is its ongoing members. Not only is your membership base the primary source of revenue, but the size of it is also the key indicator of your gym’s success. So, it is essential to maintain a large and stable membership base to ensure your gym’s long-term success. This is why gym membership retention is vital to running a successful gym.

While attracting new members is challenging, keeping existing members engaged and away from your competitors can be just as demanding. However, you can use the strategies in this guide to improve membership retention and increase your gym’s long-term outlook for success.

In this short guide, we will cover all you need to know to start improving your gym’s membership retention, including:

  • What is gym membership retention?
  • Why is it important?
  • What factors influence membership retention?
  • Five effective member retention strategies
  • How gym management software can help increase membership retention

What Does Gym Membership Retention Mean?

Gym membership retention refers to a gym business’s ability to maintain its existing members over time. It involves strategies and initiatives to reduce membership turnover and increase membership renewals. For this reason, retention methods typically focus on creating positive member experiences, providing value-added services, and developing rewarding relationships between members and the gym community. By adding these member-oriented features and incentives, gym owners strive to increase gym membership retention by reinforcing a sense of belonging among their members in a quest for long-term success.

Why is Retention Valuable to Gyms?

According to the IHRSA, gyms’ first-year success rate is around 19%. This reality is why you must do everything possible to increase gym revenue and profit. To this end, the IHRSA also found that boosting your retention rates by 5% increases profits from 25% to 95%. But the advantages don’t stop there. Let’s cover some significant benefits of implementing membership retention strategies.

  • Friendly and Comfortable Environment: An elevated membership retention level helps create a solid community within your gym. When members bond with other members, they can form a social network that provides a powerful incentive to remain a member. These unions often continue outside the gym, resulting in long-lasting relationships and increased member satisfaction.
  • Fluid Revenue Stream: A large, stable membership pool equals a predictable and steady revenue stream for your business. This advantage makes monetary forecasting and financing more stable for future budgeting and planning.
  • Cost-Effective Marketing: Since you have a 60% to 70% chance of selling your services to an existing member, keeping a member is worth the effort and marketing expense. Marketing campaigns for new members have a lower conversion rate, requiring substantial labor, marketing, and advertising expenses. So, emphasizing your membership retention strategies is much more cost-effective.
  • Existing Members are Your Best Salesforce: Your gym’s best brand promoters and salespeople are typically satisfied long-time members. A recent Nielson survey revealed that 92 percent of people made purchasing decisions based on recommendations from relatives and friends. So, when a potential member visits your gym through a member’s referral, your stellar reputation has already impressed the person enough to make your pitch more successful. This is why word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool.
  • Reduce Churn Rates: This retention metric measures the rate at which members cancel or decide not to renew their membership within a specified time, typically measured monthly or annually. Members who quit shortly after joining can hinder your gym’s profitability. An effective membership retention strategy can curb churn rates.
  • Data-Driven Insights: Existing members are a rich data source that can help you make more informed decisions. Using gym management software, you can gain insight into their behavior and preferences. You can also get the necessary feedback to personalize your services and activities to suit their needs better, increasing retention rates and member satisfaction.

What Factors Influence Membership Retention?

Before constructing an effective membership retention strategy, you must be familiar with the factors that impact gym membership retention. These are several of the primary factors.

Knowledgeable and Friendly Staff

Your staff members form the primary point of contact between your business and the members. As the front line of member services, they are responsible for making your members feel comfortable and supported. So, the level of your staff’s people skills, fitness knowledge, and professionalism can significantly influence the membership retention rate.

Whether members need help with exercise equipment or fitness advice, they should be able to find a staff member who is approachable, well-informed, and inspiring. Focusing on these qualities can help ensure your gym provides an engaging, elite-level member experience.

Price and Value

Pricing and value are vital factors in gym membership retention as they directly influence members’ perceptions of the gym’s offerings and their desire to continue their memberships. Also, pricing affects affordability and perceived value. Members are more likely to remain loyal to your gym if they believe they are receiving good value for their price.

Regardless of your gym membership fee, a member will gauge the value of their investment according to their evaluation of your facilities, services, and results. If the membership fee is too high compared to their perceived value, they are likelier to cancel their membership. For this reason, you should align your pricing strategies with the perceived value of the gym’s offerings to ensure members feel they are getting value.

By effectively balancing pricing with perceived value, you can enhance member satisfaction and loyalty, leading to higher retention rates. You can achieve this by continually assessing and adjusting pricing and value propositions in response to member feedback and market trends.

Community Building

Members who form a connection with other members and feel part of your gym community are more likely to remain members for the long term. This dynamic is why your ability to create a community atmosphere in your gym directly impacts gym membership retention. Although group classes are essential to building a community-oriented business, there are many other ways of creating a community setting, including member-only social media groups, charity runs, healthy cook-offs, and potlucks. In addition, some gyms used a digital display board at check-in so everyone could see who was in the gym that day.

Kilo boost membership retention

Source: The Athletic Clubs

The Value of Individualized Fitness Programs

Most people primarily join gyms to receive guidance and motivation for achieving their fitness goals. For this reason, your members’ loyalty to your gym depends heavily on how well you address their needs and motivate them to reach their goals. So, individualized fitness programs, such as customized workout plans and personal training, are the best features for keeping your members motivated and engaged for extended periods, equaling higher retention rates.

Equipment and Amenities

The quality of your gym’s equipment and amenities is a significant factor in gym membership retention. To remain competitive, you must provide your members with well-maintained, state-of-the-art equipment that is easy to use. It is also essential to upgrade your equipment to keep up with your competitors. In addition, you can add value to your member experience and increase retention rates by offering amenities like pools, childcare, and massage services.

Gym Cleanliness and Maintenance

Gym cleanliness and maintenance are pivotal factors in gym membership retention. They clearly indicate how dedicated you are to providing a desirable environment for your members. For this reason, providing your members with a clean and safe workout environment is essential. You can maintain high cleanliness and maintenance standards by ensuring your staff follows a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule. The duty list should include:

  • Mopping floors
  • Cleaning bathrooms
  • Wiping down equipment
  • Maintaining spotless locker rooms

5 Effective Member Retention Strategies

Here are five effective strategies that can help you improve your gym membership retention.


Gamification allows you to incorporate game design and mechanical elements to increase member engagement and performance. It is a highly effective strategy for making your gym more interactive, rewarding, and fun for your members.

As a result, your members will have more incentive to stick to their exercise routines and experience overall satisfaction. A recent study conducted by the European Journal of Investigation in Health Psychology and Education found that a gamifying fitness activity can increase:

  • Enjoyment, satisfaction, and motivation
  • Physical activity and social interaction
  • Exercise intensity
  • Health app use
  • Intrinsic incentive and engagement

You can use various methods to add gamification to your member services, including the following:

  • Fitness Competitions and Challenges: These activities can tap into the competitive nature of members to peak their ambition for reaching fitness goals. Leaderboards, prizes, and award ceremonies for the winners stimulate engagement and achievement.
  • Interactive Fitness Equipment: Some gyms offer interactive fitness equipment with screens or virtual reality technology that gamifies workouts by simulating immersive experiences, challenges, or games while exercising. This feature not only adds entertainment value but also distracts members from the physical exertion of exercise.
  • Progress Tracking and Visualization: Gym management software allows members to set fitness goals and monitor their progress on apps or their member dashboard.
  • Team Challenges: This method helps members reach collective goals. It also fosters friendly competition and a strong sense of community.

Flexible Membership Plans

Establishing flexible membership plans is a great gym retention strategy. It allows your members to adjust their membership services according to their needs and preferences. Also, when you offer flexible membership options to your members, you give them the following advantages:

  • Financial Accessibility: Your members’ financial situations can shift occasionally. If their budget gets tight, they can select a pricing structure that allows them to continue their membership without interruption. In addition, with a tiered pricing structure, you expose your business to a broader range of potential members.
  • Customization: Your members can use flexible membership choices to pick the best one for their budget, fitness goals, and desired level of involvement. If your members have a choice between monthly, quarterly, or yearly membership, they will likely find a plan that fits their needs.
  • Simple Upgrades and Downgrades: Flexible membership plans can also adjust to members with changing fitness needs. By allowing your members to upgrade and downgrade easily, you help them stay committed and engaged at their comfort level. For example, members with a basic membership can quickly shift to a premium version when they become more committed to their fitness goals.
  • Pausing Option: This feature allows your members to temporarily pause their memberships for any reason, including injury, illness, vacations, or family commitments. This option lowers the possibility of members permanently canceling.

Personal Training and Support

Providing personal training and support is a potent membership retention strategy with a proven track record of success. According to a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, working with a personal trainer can increase a person’s fitness level by up to 57%. So, personal training and support help retain members, boost results, and promote their ongoing dedication. These are the reasons customized support is an influential member retention strategy:

  • Customized Member Journeys: Instead of taking a general approach, personal training and support offer customized fitness journeys for each member. This benefit is a well-designed roadmap that leads your members to their unique fitness ambitions and capabilities.
  • Skilled Motivator: We’re human. Nobody’s super motivated all the time. It’s normal to have lapses in motivation to reach our fitness goals. At these times, personal trainers are dedicated and experienced motivators, inspiring your members to push past slumps to continue their fitness journey.
  • Gym Ambassador: The gym environment can be intimidating to some members, especially if they are at the beginner level. Personal trainers act as friendly guides for your members, alleviating anxiety and transforming the gym into a welcoming and fun space.
  • Accountability: Knowing that a personal trainer is waiting for them to arrive at the gym is a powerful motivator for members. For this reason, personal trainers increase accountability, encouragement, consistent attendance, and adherence to workout routines.
  • Continuous Progress Monitoring: Personal trainers closely track your members’ progress and make necessary adjustments to their fitness plans. This service helps keep members on track to achieve their fitness goals.

Rewards Programs

If you want to inspire loyalty from your members, reward programs are the most effective gym retention strategy. Statista reports that 70% of U.S. consumers commit more time to a business because of participating in loyalty programs with rewards and discounts. These are some features you can consider adding to your reward program strategy:

  • Integrating with a Referral Program: Offering rewards to members for referring friends and family benefits your membership retention and new member marketing. When members refer new sign-ups, you can award them limited discounts on monthly dues, a membership upgrade for a month, or a free item from a brand partner.
  • Membership Upgrades and Upselling: Loyalty programs can include special rewards that gain value with the level of member spending or engagement. This feature gives members an incentive to upgrade membership levels.
  • Remarketing: Just because some members cancel doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve lost them forever. Your rewards plan can help you remarket to these former members. For example, you can offer discounted reactivation fees, personalized offers, or special promotions to win them back.

Surveys and Feedback

Collecting member insight information from member feedback forms and surveys is an invaluable tool for boosting member retention, especially with the help of Kilo gym management software. It provides a pipeline communication link with your members, allowing you to respond to their needs quickly. These are the other reasons this strategy works so well:

  1. Surveys and feedback channels take the guesswork of servicing your members’ needs. By allowing you to collect inputs and opinions, members feel more a part of the decision-making process.
  2. This strategy lets you quickly receive and access members’ concerns, making it a powerful tool for problem-solving and conflict resolution.
  3. Member feedback helps you identify gym facilities and services that need improvement. Once members realize that you value and respond to their feedback, they view your gym as a nurturing community.
  4. The information collected from surveys and feedback provides detailed insights into member behavior. As a result, you can foresee and take action to reduce potential member churn.

How Can Gym Management Software Improve Membership Retention?

Gym management software can boost membership retention with various features and functionalities that streamline operations, improve communication, and enhance member experience. It can contribute significantly to improving gym membership retention by:

Streamlined Member Communication: Gym management software facilitates seamless communication between gym staff and members through automated email reminders, notifications, and newsletters.

Personalized Member Experience: Many gym management software platforms offer member profiling and tracking features that enable gyms to gather and analyze member data, including fitness goals, preferences, and attendance history.

Efficient Appointment Scheduling: Gym management software typically includes scheduling features that allow members to book appointments for personal training sessions, classes, and other services conveniently online or through mobile apps.

Member Engagement Tools: Many gym management software platforms offer member engagement tools like workout tracking, progress monitoring, and goal-setting features.

Analytics and Reporting: Gym management software provides comprehensive analytics and reporting capabilities that enable your gym to track key performance metrics, such as membership growth, retention rates, and member satisfaction levels.

Beginning Your Gym Membership Retention Plan

Gym membership retention is vital to steering your gym toward extended success and optimizing its appeal to new and existing members. By enhancing the member experience with member-centric strategies, you can keep your members engaged, encouraged, and attending the gym for a long time.

To learn more about how Kilo gym management software can help you reach higher membership retention rates, watch the demo today.

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