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A class at Liber8Fit Underground in San Diego, CA

The 36 Best Ways to Keep Your Fitness Members Motivated

By Katherine Wernet

Whether you call them students, members, or clients, here are over 30 ideas to keep them engaged and improve retention

A recent study by the Customer Engagement Academy found that if gym members have more than one reason to go to a business to work out, they're more likely to experience high satisfaction and willingness to recommend the business—especially if they're participating in group exercise. Increasingly frequent visits can also raise satisfaction and promotion scores. On the other hand, the longer someone’s a member at a studio or gym, the less likely they have a high level of satisfaction and will promote the business. That’s where you come in.

As a business owner, you need to actively engage your community. This ensures they won’t get tired of their fitness routine and will continue to achieve their fitness goals.

We’ve compiled some of our favorite ways to do just that: keep clients at your fitness studio engaged, get them through the door often, and keep their routines from feeling stale. The key is to keep your members active and make sure they feel just as much a part of your fitness business as you are.

1. Learn clients’ names quickly and use them

While you might not want to put a spotlight on someone who’s coming to class for the first time, make sure instructors or personal trainers introduce themselves right from the start. For studio regulars, encourage them with a callout in class or with a follow-up email to tell them how great they’re doing. It may be just the motivation they need to keep going.

 2. Highlight hard work by choosing a member of the month or week

Showcasing a client’s efforts rewards your chosen member and inspires others to stay motivated!

3. Share playlists and crowdsource song requests

Your members probably have favorite artists they want to work out to. Why not incorporate their faves into your class playlists? If clients love the songs you’ve been playing in class, share the playlist with them.

4. Plan themed classes

Offer special classes with curated playlists. Some of our faves: Coachella, 80s/90s Night, The Many Phases of Taylor Swift, Backstreet Boys vs. *NSYNC, Britney vs. Beyonce, and British Invasion. Make sure you tease these exclusive classes on social media and have your instructors mention them at the end of classes leading up to the event!

Instagram post from The Madison for a Bruce Springsteen themed class

Photo by The Madison

5. Encourage client engagement on social media

Don’t just see your clients in the studio or on screen, interact with them throughout the day on social media. One way to increase engagement is with a social media contest. Ask clients to tag three friends in a post or even ask for them to guess answers to trivia questions (for example, how many barre socks an instructor owns for a free pair themselves). Make sure you’re following the official rules for Instagram or Facebook regarding promotions.

6. Celebrate milestones

From smashing a personal record to attending their 100th class, your members are consistently working towards their goals. Recognize those clients and keep new students engaged with the promise of an exclusive, studio-branded t-shirt once they’ve hit 50, 100, or even 500 classes. Just make sure it’s something they can break a sweat in!

7. Start a fitness challenge

We’re not reinventing the wheel here. Sometimes a good, old-fashioned community challenge can be just what clients need to feel reinvigorated. Track clients’ progress somewhere visible in your studio and offer a prize for members who hit the goal (a certain number of classes within a month/week). You can take this to the next level in the studio with FitMetrix and let live leaderboards fuel your customers throughout their workouts.

8. Host a social media challenge to get the word out

Reward clients who mention your business on social media through Instagram tags, Facebook check-ins, and reviews on Google or Yelp with points for each mention of your business. Once they hit a certain number of points, reward them with a free class, a discount on retail, or a small gift (branded water bottle, socks, etc.). This can also be an element of a larger fitness challenge (see above).

9. Have a referral program

Everyone needs a workout buddy. Create a referral program to keep everyone accountable. Make it even easier on yourself with Mindbody’s retention tools, and automatically promote your referral program to clients and track and reward those who refer their friends!

10. Take photos after classes and share them

Ask your members if they want to take a photo after class and then use it on social media and in email marketing. Make sure to tag everyone! Use photos of members for the business photos in the Mindbody app and show prospective clients how much fun they can have, too.

11. Work out with your clients

If you’re not teaching the class yourself, think about joining your members for class. It’s a great way to get to know them better, and they might pick up a few good habits from you. This also gives you a chance to experience your class offerings and your instructors, first-hand.

12. Throw studio anniversary parties

Just like a client’s anniversary is worth celebrating, so is your business’s! Invite all your members to celebrate with a free class that day, an afternoon at the park/beach, or an open house! Partner with other local businesses and see if they'll offer discounts on food/drinks in exchange for free promotion at your event.

13. Offer candlelight classes

Sometimes it's helpful to just see things in a different light! Help clients spice up their workout routine by offering a recovery class with a more relaxed vibe. Using battery-powered candles makes it even easier on you.

14. Promote new and visiting instructors and trainers

Introduce your clients to new instructors or personal trainers over social media. If you have an instructor visiting from another one of your locations, or from a business you’re partnering with, make sure your clients know they have the chance to take from a master teacher. Make an event of it—even if it’s virtual!

15. Offer focused weeks

We all know about Leg Day, but you can take both in-person and virtual classes to the next level by dedicating a whole week to a specific focus. Some of our favorites are arms, core, and improving flexibility. You can even do a meditation week and offer five minutes of meditation at the end of each class.

16. Create a selfie station

Have a spot in your studio where clients want to take selfies to show off their hard work on their personal social media accounts. It can be as simple as a mirror and your logo or a branded hashtag painted on the wall. Make sure the lighting is flattering and shows everyone at their best (self-esteem, here we come!). Ask clients to tag your business when they post.

17. Host special edition workouts for holidays

Decorate the studio with holiday decor or take it to the next level and offer themed workouts leading up to the holiday. Encourage clients to wear costumes for a haunted Halloween workout, go green for St. Patrick’s Day, or offer free classes for significant others on Valentine’s Day. It’s easy to keep everyone in the loop with Mindbody's Marketing Suite. Design email newsletters and holiday campaigns to let them know you’re ready to celebrate!

Group of clients in costume after a workout at Phys. Ed. KC

Photo by Phys. Ed. KC

18. Plan a community hike or take classes outdoors

Whether it’s a weekly addition to your schedule, or a monthly event, soak up the sun (when you can) and take your workout outside. Schedule a group hike for members and encourage them to bring friends and family or host class right outside your studio, at a park, or at the beach. 

19. Allow clients to have input in class

Whether in the studio or on screen, sometimes just asking clients what they want to do for weights or seat work that day can make all the difference and take them from unmotivated to enthusiastic! You certainly don’t need to do this every class, but it’s always a good idea to remind them that the workouts are about them. Take this a step further and have your Member of the Month pick the warm-up or create the class playlist.

20. Host potlucks or socials

Nothing brings people together like food and drink. A potluck gives clients a chance to get to know each other better outside of class and makes them feel a part of your business family. Looking to bring together your community virtually? A virtual happy hour or cooking class is a fun way to connect from home.

21. Host bootcamp weeks

Sometimes we all need an extra push. Offer bootcamp weeks and increase the intensity in class to offer a change of pace to help clients stay motivated.

22. Recognize your inaugural members

Whether you’re a new studio or many years in, you never forget those first few clients. Show love to the folks who took a chance on you with TBT (Throwback Thursday) posts or client shout-outs on Instagram and Facebook.

23. Pick up the phone and call or text your members

If you haven’t seen a client in a while, let them know you miss seeing them and offer a discount for their first class back. Better yet, set up an automation in Marketing Suite to do it for you.

24. Never stop asking questions

Developing real relationships with your clients is key. Ask what they do for a living, what their vacation plans are, what their goals are, or what motivates them! If they share something important (a specific goal, an important life milestone, etc.), make a note of it in their contact log in your fitness software and schedule a reminder to follow up with them.

25. Give members the chance to get to know your instructors and personal trainers

Show clients they’re part of your studio family with behind-the-scenes peeks on social media. Test how well members know instructors with fun challenges, too. One of our favorites? Post baby photos of your instructors and trainers and offer a prize to the first person who guesses correctly.

26. Give back to the community with a charity event or challenge

Offer incentives to come to class while helping your broader community. Some ideas:  Give a set dollar amount based on attendance (e.g., $10 per client), offer a retail discount for each canned good clients bring to class, or make a donation for every five reviews received  on Google or Yelp. Promote on social media and have your instructors and personal trainers spread the word in their regularly scheduled classes and sessions.

27. Mail handwritten notes

A personal touch goes a long way! You don’t need to have a special promotion going on. You, your instructors, or your personal trainers can mail notes to your clients to show appreciation and recognize their hard work! Another idea: Leave notes or positive affirmations on your clients’ cars while they’re in class. When they head home, they’ll love that you took the time to think of them. Plus, a little positive reinforcement goes a long way.

28. Offer master classes/workshops

If you have a solid group of members who seem hungry for more of a challenge, offer an intensive or workshop series. Feel like there’s never enough time to focus on proper form? Dedicate a master class to form and give your instructors the opportunity to work with members in a focused group. Set a minimum number of classes members have to take before they can sign up. This has the added bonus of motivating new students to up their attendance.

29. Celebrate client birthdays

If clients book a class on their birthdays, ask them to choose the warmup, pick the class playlist, or receive a free class/retail discount. Make sure to sing Happy Birthday, too.

30. Ask for client feedback

Your clients want to be a part of the process and want to feel heard. Have a new class on the schedule? Personally email or text message clients who tested it out to see what they thought. Something as small as a quick follow-up to ask your clients for feedback about their experience is a small step that can set you apart from other businesses and will show them you care.

31. Host a pop-up event or trunk show

Give members a chance to combine a workout and a shopping trip in one. Partner with a local vendor to add extra excitement to a Saturday morning workout while offering a great opportunity for new foot traffic.

Instagram post promoting pop-up trunk show at Barreworks

Photo by Barreworks

32. Bring in live music

Working out to a killer playlist is one thing, having the chance to exercise to live music is even better. Invite local musicians to join you for a memorable sweat sesh.

33. Celebrate your clients’ anniversaries

Send emails to clients on the anniversary of their first visit to your business. Throw in a discount on classes or retail to help them celebrate another year with your gym! (Pro tip: automate this email, too.)

34. Offer to special order retail items

If a client is eyeing one of your retail products, but you don’t have the size or color they want in stock, offer to order it and have it shipped for them. It’s a small gesture that goes a long way and helps you make another sale.

35. Use text and push notifications to motivate

Sometimes a simple “you got this” text is just what it takes to get a client to book their next class or session. With Messenger[ai], you can send a dose of text message motivation to a specific group of clients or your entire community. Have a branded mobile app? Use push notifications to reach all of your clients, too.

36. Host a customer appreciation day (or week)

Surprise and delight your clients with a customer appreciation day or week. Bring treats to the studio, celebrate on social, or have your instructors write thank you cards to members. It doesn’t have to be big—or expensive—to make your clients feel appreciated.

Give your clients more reasons to come to your studio and remind them how important they are to your business. With the tips outlined above, you’re well on your way to keeping your community motivated and eager to come back to your business again and again.

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About the author:

Katherine Wernet

Katherine Wernet

Senior Campaign Program Manager

Mindbody

Katherine leads the salon and spa marketing strategy at Mindbody and is part of the team behind the Mindbody Wellness Index. While she started her career in film and television, a passion for small businesses won out and led her to Mindbody. She earned her MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management.

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