The Social Aspects of Gym Membership Retention

Member retention is essential for a gym’s profitability over the short-term as well as long term. This is a key topic of discussion in our industry because of its starring role as an indicator of financial success. In this article we’ll dive deeper into the many reasons why membership retention is important and what we can do as business owners to maintain and drive member retention. Placing our attention on and investing time and money in ways to drive member retention simply makes good sense. 

In order to keep our client we must know our client. But how do we do this? We know that member retention is an ongoing challenge in our industry and many statistics point to this with concrete evidence. For example, 40% of club members who join will let their membership expire within the first year. That’s a number we want to decrease substantially in order to keep our business thriving and the well-being of our members at an optimum level. To illustrate the point further, studies show that 47.3 billion U.S. dollars are lost due to this yearly attrition.

We must keep in mind that while the first step is to obtain a member, it is the ongoing process of retaining them that is really key. This is where the value lies - for the club’s financial success AND the member’s success to obtain his/her health and fitness goals. The longevity here for both parties is what really matters.And of course, the ultimate goal is having a substantial percentage of lifetime members. By doubling and even tripling your number of lifetime members your success is guaranteed.

A recent IHRSA survey reveals that 35% of gym members cancel their memberships due to social reasons. The poll tells us that some of the reasons why a member cancels her membership is rooted in social aspects of his/her personal experience at their gym. “It was intimidating.” “I didn’t know anyone at my gym.” “There wasn’t anyone to guide me.” “I felt out of place.” These are telling responses received when asked why a member walked away.

 It can be difficult making new friends and connecting with other people within the hustle-and-bustle environment of a health club. If something changes within your club’s social circle, you may not be inclined to use the club as much. We are social creatures and connection is key. Many people need gym buddies for motivation to even get to the gym on a given day. Being accountable for another person or a group of people helps us to be accountable for ourselves. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. When members feel a strong sense of community and connection with their gym “tribe,” they are far less likely to let their membership lapse.

The IHRSA survey also shows that another 28% of members cancel their membership due to lack of use. The good news is that unlike other cancellation reasons (cost, change in location, over crowdedness) the social and lack of use issues are easily addressed with the right tool. With this tool, gym owners can effectively influence the social aspect and the lack of use issues.  That's a 63% increase in retention right there."

 In targeting the population who cancels for social reasons and/or lack of use, we want to understand the psychology behind their actions. But how do we do this? How do we better engage and respond to the needs of our members? A gym staff needs more than just good people skills in order to serve and retain their clients. In most cases, the staff is largely outnumbered by the client. Providing the outstanding service that is needed to retain a member over the long-term is undoubtedly challenging. The staff needs a way to obtain information based on member interactions so that they can better manage the experience of their members. In short, they need the best tools at their disposal.

This is what GymGroups offers. The GymGroups private social networking platform is the perfect tool for fostering this type of communication while improving sociability.  In essence, Gym Groups is a private social networking tool for health clubs across the globe. Its primary goal is to serve health and fitness clubs by giving them a member retention tool that actually works, and it does so by providing members with an outstanding means of communication through private social networking.

The GymGroups tool gives these members a place to build their tribe. It also provides greater accessibility to the staff and trainers who work there. A member can share videos and photos within their private social networking group - thereby building motivation, confidence and a sense of belonging. The importance of this sense of social belonging cannot be understated - especially when we talk about member retention. Humans are social creatures. Studies show us time and time again that a person’s ability to thrive in any situation is largely baed upon whether they feel supported and connected. Community is key. 

Again, the beauty of this tool is that it allows for communication between members, communication from member to personal trainer, between members and the club, and communication with anyone else in the fitness organization allowed into your private network.

Communication is the defining aspect of effective member retention -  crucial to the equation of a gym’s short-term and long-term profitability. GymGroups is a subsidiary of GROU.PS Inc which has helped 320,000+ communities reach over 13,000,000 registered members globally since 2005. We live and breathe private social networking, we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t and we’re here to help you reduce churn and make more profits with our health & fitness member retention solutions. To get a free ROI (return on investment) report, and see how GymGroups can help you achieve your goals, please contact us at or call (844) GYM-GRPS