Engage and Retain Your Gym Members with These Fitness Challenge Ideas!

The goal of all health clubs is to increase member engagement, because members that actually use your facility are more likely to continue to use the club. However, 44% of all gym members are showing up to health clubs less than four times a month, making them high cancellation risk members. It is difficult to entice those once-a-weekers to come into the club and feel part of the community, as most health club owners know.

Keeping members engaged and interested in your services is an ongoing challenge. As a gym owner, it’s vital to keep rethinking ways of engaging your members. One sure-fire way to keep engagement high is by organizing fitness challenges.

Fitness challenges are an effective tactic to increase engagement and membership retention. Through using mobile apps and wearables, creating challenges has never been easier. Encouraging members to join competitions is an effective way of engaging with clients. After all, who doesn’t like fun and rewards?

Despite the mixed long-term results of contestants on the TV show The Biggest Loser, its commercial success sheds light on how challenges can not only connect with an audience but keep them coming back again and again. That’s why many health clubs have held their own versions of the quick weight-loss contest.

Entice members to participate in a contest or challenge by offering low-cost prizes such as personal training sessions, club branded products such as towels or water bottles and even a free month or two – making it a relatively low-investment member retention strategy.

Contests are great for retention, by integrating social media, email and other technology into them you can not only keep those that are coming to the club engaged, you just may bring back some that have gone MIA. For example, you can:

  • Use Twitter and a custom hashtag to track results
  • Use social media to post winners and prizes on your Facebook page
  • Instagram a picture of the winning recipe from your healthy eating contest
  • Provide email updates to members telling them how to get started

There a many types of challenges or contests that can run, depending on what you offer and the space you have.  We have outlined below six fitness challenges you can use to engage and retain members:

  1. Weight Loss Challenge

Weight loss challenges can be done using overall pounds lost during a challenge, the percentage of weight lost, or better yet, a body composition change. Track weight loss with weekly check-ins and keep a leader board both in your club and on your social media channels. This is a great time also to get participants to enroll in classes or work with personal trainers at a reduced fee for being a contestant, not only improving retention but boosting the bottom line at the same time.

  1. Move Around the World

Offer your members miles for activity time. For example, if a member does 10 minutes on a treadmill, he or she will earn 10 miles. If they take a rowing class for 45 minutes, that’ll get the contestant 45 miles closer to the prizes. Have members track their progress in-club and if possible online and social media and offer themed prize based on the reaching destinations along the way as they travel around the globe.

  1. The Amazing Race

Give each two-person team a list of exercise machines, classes and other fitness requirements throughout the facility and see who finishes first. For example, you can list 20 push-ups, a TRX class, a run in the park and more on the list. Have them record or take photos and tag it on their social media with #[CLUBNAME]AmazingRace as proof. This will not only keep them honest but will make it even more fun while allowing others to see how fun your club makes fitness.

  1. Hold an “-A-Thon”

This can be a dance-a-thon with Zumba, a yogathon, cycle-a-thon or even a run-a-thon. These options are only limited by what offerings you have in your health club and your creativity. Start the contest on a Friday night or weekend morning and let it go until the winner is the only one left “a-thoning.” Have your instructors rotate throughout to keep it fresh and fun. Better yet, is to do your “a-thon” for a local charity making it about supporting a good cause in addition to getting your members active and engaged with your club.

  1. Recipe of the Month

Show your members that you offer more than just a place to work out. Partner with a local healthy restaurant or smoothie bar to hold a recipe of the month contest for your members. Have members vote on the recipe they like the most, and the winner can receive a coupon to the restaurant. Better yet, the restaurant can give them (and the club) props by offering the item on the menu as “Gym X’s” dish of the month by “Member Name.” You can also offer a tasting at the club to encourage members to come in—and help promote your partner. This contest not only encourages members to participate but can also create great buzz outside the club’s four walls.

  1. Offer a prize for check-ins

One of the best and simplest ways to encourage members to come to the club is to reward them for actually coming into the club. Technology makes this even easier and more fun. Have members track check-ins on Facebook and Foursquare. Offer the person that makes it in the most a free month. Maybe the second and third place members get lesser prizes.

So, what fitness challenges are you going to try? We’d love to hear!

3 Key Things Your Customer Engagement Platform Should Provide

As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, a customer experience platform is one big way to stand out as a health club. It gives your customers a place to give feedback and be heard, and enhance their experience. But as a fitness club owner, what should you look for when finding the right customer experience platform? We’ve compiled three key things your health club management software should do.

  • Be immediately responsive
    Feedback should be coming in to you every single day. A customer experience platform should allow you to be immediately responsive to that feedback, whether it’s positive or negative feedback, in an organic way. Even though you’re using a software to facilitate the interaction, it should still feel like a human-to-human interaction for your members.
  • Information for all levels
    The information you receive from your customer experience platform should be relevant to all areas of your fitness club. Whether you’re a 90-location chain or a single-location business, there will be different areas of your business that need feedback. This goes from the front-of-house employees who greet customers walking in the door all the way up to owners, CEOs or a board of directors. Your customer management platform should provide your health club with information and data relevant to all levels.
  • Improvement plans and ideas
    The data and feedback you receive from your customer experience platform should give you room to grow. What good is data if you don’t know what to do with it? Your customer engagement platform should help take your fitness club or gym to the next level with a plan to continually improve the customer experience.

Are you ready to get started with a customer engagement software? Contact the team at MXM to learn more.

How to Start a Gym Member Referral Program

There are thousands of ways to start a gym member referral program these days. Most referral programs offer an incentive of a free months of membership to your referring member. But, why not give out cash instead? If you own a gym, and you don’t currently run a ‘refer a friend’ type of program, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to increase membership and build community in your gym. Referral programs have been around forever, yet some businesses still aren’t using them to their full advantage. Referral programs are a simple and cost effective way to get more people walking into your business.

Here are some basic  facts: friends like to work out with each other, friends like to tell friends about good deals, and people like to get rewards and “points” for doing stuff. These three reasons alone should be enough encourage for you to start a member referral program at your gym. Once you’ve decided that starting a refer a friend program would be a good marketing strategy for your business, it’s time to work out the details!


1. What Promotion Will You Offer

You need to decide what promotion will be worthwhile to offer for a referral. A refer-a-friend gym promotion only works if the promotion is good for the new member and the benefit is great for the referrer. Most gyms give out a free week pass for the new member. That work, but you might want to go with something a little more valuable for your referral deal. Maybe a 50% discount on a month of service, or 6 months for the price of 3. Make it a worthwhile promotion so that the person really sees the benefit of taking advantage of the deal. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing worse than winning some type of contest and getting a horrible prize as a result. The same mentality goes for your fitness center’s referral bonus. If you are not willing to give your current members some quality prizes and incentives, why should they care about referring friends to your business?

2. Reward for the Referring Member

Make sure that the reward for your current members referring friends will be worth it. There are many ideas behind what makes a good referral deal. We personally think that giving out cash per referral makes the most sense. People like money, and they’ll work hard to get it. If you’re giving out a free membership, you’re going to attract some people to your referral program, but you’ll refer a lot more if you give out cash for the referral. However, there is still the old reliable “Free Month with Every Referral.” Either way, if you’re charging $150 a month for membership, and you’re giving your current members a $10 discount per referral, don’t even bother! Why would a member bother telling their friends if it isn’t worth their time? However, if you were to give away one free month for every referral that becomes a paying member, now we’re talking! You won’t even lose any money as a result. The new member will be paying the membership that the referring member would have paid, and then in month 2, you’re getting BOTH members paying membership. This is a win-win!

3. Marketing Materials for the Member Referral Program

Once you have established a good deal for the new gym member, as well as a worthwhile reward for the member that did the referring, it is then time to market and promote your deal. Pay someone to make you a nice marketing banner and referral cards! Make your banner self-explanatory….”Tell your friends about our gym and get a free month of class!” The referral cards should have your business info, as well as an area for the referring member to write their name so that they can get the reward should someone present the card when signing up for the gym. There seems to be a common misconception that print is dead; it isn’t. It’s more popular than ever in all actuality. So get out there, print some flyers, and get them up around your business!

4. Use the Power of Social Media

Social media have amazing uses. Use your social media pages to spread the word about a referral program. If you’re offering 1-free month of gym usage, you might get a guy who goes out and finds you 12 new members. He’s going to get a year of free gym membership, but you’re going to get full-price memberships from 12 new members. Now that is a pretty good tradeoff. Plus, if that guy is out their talking about your gym, you’re getting added publicity as well. So, make it a point to let EVERYONE know that you’re starting a referral program and that, if they really work hard, they can get free gym for a year, etc.

5. Promote Your Referral Program to Current Members

While you’re promoting the referral program on your social media, make sure you let all your current members know about the promotion. Give each of them 5-10 of the referral cards that you had printed up. They can give these to friends, coworkers, relatives, whoever. As long as someone comes in with that card, the referring member will get credit. Have a stack of referral cards at the front desk as well, so that people can grab a few on their way home from tonight’s workout. You’ll be surprised as how many cards you go through when you have a worthwhile deal for your referring members (free month of gym use per member referred or something similar).

6. Make Good on Your Deal and PAY for Referrals

Don’t forget to hold up your end of the bargain and start giving out that cash. You can call it a “Free Month of Membership” but make sure you’re paying out in hard currency. Not some flimsy little piece of paper. Make a show of it and give the member a month’s membership worth of cash after the workout of the day. They’ll be able to walk home with a fat stack of dollar bills in their pocket, and the other members will see that you’re actually true about the referral program; paying out hard-earned cash for every referred member. Once members start seeing you give wads of cash to members for referring their friends, you better believe other members will start telling all their friends and coworkers about your gym.

7. Inspire Your Members to Spread the Word

The best possible scenario you will have for your gym referral program is that you have lots and lots of members bringing in lots and lots of referrals. That’s where the benefit of giving out cash instead of membership months makes the difference. If someone gets a free month of membership for every referral, it might not be worth the effort. However, if you’re giving out cash, someone could potentially make a couple extra hundred bucks per month just by becoming your salesperson. If you give out $50 for every referral that comes in your door, and someone gets 10 referrals a month, that’s $500. That’s a nice chunk of change for them to put towards their monthly espenses and bills!

It doesn’t take much effort to start a referral program, but it sure is a worthwhile gym marketing strategy. Figure out some referral program ideas for your gym, create the referral forms, and you’re good to go!