Keeping the members of your fitness facility engaged, coming back and inspired to share the love with friends and family is a never-ending task. New members join every day and the cycle begins. And if you fail to keep them looking forward to coming through your door, you risk cancellations.
Many years ago, I noticed that members were just doing the same workout every day and looked less than enthused. Even though some had personal trainers and others did group classes, they still needed a boost. That's when I introduced the "Cardio Vacation" member challenge.
Incorporating a challenge
As spring came to an end, I started a challenge focusing on summer vacations to get members excited for the upcoming season. “Cardio Vacation” began as a small idea and grew into a quarterly event. I calculated the miles from our facility in California to 15 other cities, leading all the way to Florida. Members would accumulate miles for every 15, 30 or 60 minutes of cardio they completed. As they received their miles, they moved their sticker along the board each time getting closer to another city.
We used a local printing shop to take my design and put it on a big board so all the members could see the participants’ progress. The challenge grew from 30 participants during the first round to almost 100. Each quarter was something different: a holiday cardio vacation, a camping vacation and even a Mount Everest climb.
As the challenges grew in popularity, I asked local businesses to donate prizes for the winners. We received mountain bikes, 3-day trips from a local travel agency and even water bottles for all participants. In addition to your members having fun and staying engaged, it is a great way to get community businesses involved. Members also meet new people who have also joined the challenge and a competitive spirit is ignited.
Engaged members into retained members
In the health and fitness industry, consistency is key. When a member loses interest, what happens next? Instead of working out four days a week, it turns into three. And then maybe once or twice a week, and eventually they just start skipping workouts altogether…which can lead to cancellations. This is where the power of challenges comes in. Your members will always have something to look forward to. Those who are unmotivated will have a reason to increase their cardio and maybe try a group exercise class too.
Let's face it, not all members who come into your gym have the same enthusiasm as you do. If you are a health and fitness professional, you wake up every day looking forward to changing lives. Creating member challenges is a great way to get members inspired to better themselves and complete their goals. Challenges can include everyone, or can be geared towards specific fitness levels such as seniors, athletes and health seekers.
A few ideas
Brainstorming ideas for specific challenges can be the most “challenging” part. Here are a few ideas to get you started, though you should fine-tune them to meet your members’ needs. Be creative and add your own twist.
- 1,000 Rep Challenge
- Total Miles (to a Destination)
- Amazing Race
- Try a Tri (An indoor triathlon is always a fun challenge and all fitness levels can participate.)
- Partner/Team Challenges
- Weekly challenges tied to a specific goal
- Tracking steps taken (using a pedometer or Fitbit)
- Outdoor Challenges
- Time for Change / Step Out of Your Comfort Zone Challenge (Challenge members to take classes they have never taken before. The participants can do this individually or in teams.)
Creating challenges may take some time to plan and implement, but it is definitely worth it. Once your members see others signing up and having fun, they will follow. As you continue to run challenges, you’ll find the number of participants will eventually increase.
It's important to be unique in what you offer, keep your programming fresh and let your members know how much you value them. Your participants will become more engaged, look forward to their workouts and tell their friends and family how much they love going to the gym.
Looking for more ways to grow your fitness business? Learn how to build your fitness business with community events and how to improve fitness facility member retention.
Cindy Quiala has been an athlete her whole life and studied kinesiology at California State University-Northridge. She served as a gymnastics coach and director for 16 years, and has worked for the YMCA as a personal trainer, group exercise instructor and Healthy Lifestyles Director for over 30 years. Cindy is a wife, mother of 2 daughters, ages 24 and 17, and a motivational blogger.
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