It can be scary: competition.  But much like nature, the fitness industry is survival of the fittest.

So how do you keep gym member loyalty high when a new yoga studio, fitness franchise or wellness center opens in town?

Local health club and gym member attrition, which is a gradual reduction of members,  is a hot topic, especially since boutique wellness studios like Pure Barre, Orange Theory Fitness and Core Power Yoga are quickly growing throughout the nation.

But I will tell you this: not all competition is bad.

In fact, if a new gym or fitness studio opens in your neighborhood, I would argue that it should set a fire under you in the best way possible. This could be a good thing for you and your gym staff.

Just like you want to get people moving in your gym, a little competition can be a great motivator to get you and your staff members moving towards higher standards.

In this fitness marketing blog article, I’ll show you a simple way to think about your member loyalty.  Plus, customer service marketing ideas to make sure loyalty stays high when competition rolls into town.

Gym Member Loyalty: What to do When Competition Creeps into Town

Gym Member Loyalty: Basic Three Concepts

Three things need to happen to keep gym members loyal:

  1. Your members need to feel their monthly membership are a good value…in line with the services and equipment that you provide them.
  2. Your gym members need to feel valued as a person…that they are a name, not just a number.
  3. Your health club members need to feel like part of a community.

When you think about, many of today’s most successful health clubs, started out as social clubs with fitness center amenities in the 70’s and 80’s.  These social clubs provided community, a place where members felt like they fit in, and, just like the tv sitcom Cheers,  “a place where every body knows your name”.

Health Clubs are like a Cheers bar


Gym Member Loyalty Marketing Ideas

Luckily, if you read your local business paper or magazine, you’ll know six or more months ahead of time whether a major wellness company is coming into your town.  This gives you plenty of time to get organized and get moving.

Here are 3 simple ways to increase gym member loyalty.


Gym member loyalty - make construction updates a positive experience

1. Enthusiastically Announce Capital Upgrades

If you’ve been setting money aside for capital upgrades – new equipment, replacing the carpet, or other facility improvements, now is the time to pull the trigger.

Make sure that your members are aware of the upgrades you plan to make.  Take pride in the new upgrades your health club or gym is making.  Spread the great news to staff and members by:

  • Announcing the upgrades in your next staff meeting with enthusiasm.
    Answer any questions staff might have and ask for their opinions on how to do the upgrades smoothly. This will make them feel like an important part of your community.
  • Posting flyers in your locker rooms that put a positive spin on the upgrades.
    “We Love Our Members!  Upgrades to the group fitness room will be happening next Sunday – Tuesday. Pardon the dust, but we think you’ll be thrilled with the lighter, brighter space we have in store for you.”
  • Post the same update on your blog and social media channels.


Gym Member Loyalty - Learn excuses

2. Know Your Members’ Names

I recently had a meeting with a pair of gym owners about improving their marketing campaigns.  We met at a coffee shop just around the corner from their facility.  We couldn’t chat for more than 5 minutes at a time without being interrupted. Why?

They knew every other person in the coffee shop (because they were members at their health club) and greeted them by name!

While the coffee shop proved not to be a productive meeting place for us, what I did learn was this: the gym owners had a tremendous personal connection with their members.  Personal connection is KEY for keeping your members loyal.

It should be your gym’s staff policy to learn names.  Period.

You know how good it feels when someone uses your name in a conversation.  In fact, studies show that hearing our name activates our brain in amazing ways.  So no matter if your staff works at the front desk or is a group fitness instructor, each staff should address a member by their name, or if they don’t know the member’s name, introduce them self to learn their name.

With 85% of middle-aged and older adults saying it’s difficult to learn names, it’s likely that you and your staff do as well. Print out copies of this Forbes article and spread it around at your next staff meeting: The Five Best Tricks to Remember Names.


 Bay Club Roll Out and Wine Down Event - Event marketing increase gym member loyalty

3. Plan Frequent Events and Adventures

According to, the Bay Club in San Francisco ranks #9 on the Top 100 Health Clubs in 2015 with $162 million in revenue.

While you might argue the Bay Club follows more of a country club model than a traditional gym business model, what they do really well is activate and engage their community.  .

You can swipe any of these event ideas from the Bay Club.

  • Host a Clothing Drive and have donation party for your favorite non-profit
  • Have a wine and shopping event if you sell retail clothes
  • Host a family movie night (especially great in the winter to get your club on the radar for your sports summer camps)
  • Create a Roll Out and Wine Down – apparently the Bay Clubs’ members really like wine ;o) – Friday evening foam rolling class and social (pictured above)

When you host events, you give those invited a sense of belonging and an opportunity to strengthen your community. If you’re investing the time and effort to create an event, promote it at least 6 weeks in advance to both staff and members.

Post event flyers and posters in your facility, plus create an RSVP section on your Facebook Page or web site so you can plan appropriately.

If open to non-members, send invitations to local media and bloggers to get the word out about the event.  After all, you can bet that your competition will be reaching out to the media to announce their big opening day.  It’s better to get ahead of them with your own news-worthy events.

Gym Member Loyalty - Customer Service

Bottom line: you don’t need to worry about how the competition is exercising as long as your gym or fitness studio is following the three gym member loyalty basics.

When your gym members see how hard you work to provide the best services and experiences to them, it will create a lasting impression about your club’s community.

It’s important to your members that you care about their well-being…after all that is the business you are in. They aren’t just a revenue stream for your fitness business. Customer Service is a long-term marketing strategy that can provide you with huge dividends in retaining current customers and signing up new ones.


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Jill Tomich

Jill Tomich, Founder of <a href=""></a>, is an award-winning entrepreneur passionate about helping fitness and wellness professionals grow their businesses. She's helps athletic centers, online personal trainers, naturopaths and wellness studios from all over the world grow their revenue from her Hawaii-based Marketing Agency. You can connect with her on <a href=""> LinkedIn.</a>

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