Starting January 1st, your studio is suddenly full of eager new clients ready to tackle their fitness goals over the next 365 days. Classes are packed with ambitious participants all working toward making positive changes to their health, hoping that your facility and instructors will help guide that journey. But cut to February, and those new members start to dwindle. How can you encourage new students to stick with it even after the New Year rush? We asked a few studio owners to share their tips and advice for retaining the January fitness crowd past the first month of the year. Here’s what they had to say about inspiring new clients to commit for the long haul.

Go above and beyond with positivity

Make your studio a place that your new members want to walk into and look forward to visiting.  “Now more than ever, every single workout is all about the experience,” says Michele Gordon, (a.k.a. Miss Motivational), creator of Cardio Sweat Party. “This is the time to make sure registration is seamless, your front desk and clean teams are on point, and your instructors and classes are welcoming for all levels. Make sure each team members know your promotions, the class schedule, etc. so he/she can help clients with their questions, should any arise.”

Get your welcome committee on point

Starting a new workout regimen is intimidating. To make new clients more comfortable, Gordon recommends being as genuinely welcoming as possible. “Remind instructors to be on their A-game (which should be on always!),” she says. “Introduce yourself to each person in the room. Find out their name, workout routine, etc. This is the time to be extra welcoming to newbies. It’s intimidating to go into an intense workout that’s potentially out of a client’s comfort zone with regulars kicking butt in the front row. In addition to getting to know the new clients, high five or give sincere, positive feedback post-class so that they walk out with a smile. Send a follow up email congratulating them on their first class.” Also, make sure the experience you’re delivering is uniform. “Be consistent with the level of customer service and awesome class experience,” says Gordon. “If a new client is coming in one time or two times in January, you want to make sure each time is awesome. The workout experience should be so good that the client cannot live without it! The experience alone will encourage new members to get a class pack and continuously stick to the program.”

Get your new members comfortable with the basics  

No matter how welcoming you are toward new members, being in a class that’s full of seasoned members can leave new members feeling like they’re in the dark. Which is why Cricket Warden of Mighty Pilates makes sure there are plenty of intro classes on her schedule in January to ease new members into it — and keep them coming back for more. “We see a lift in new clients that are trying Pilates for the first time at the beginning of the year,” she says. “So we make sure to have plenty of Foundations classes on our schedule, which show people how to use all Pilates equipment and teach them correct form to help improve all their workouts. We also helped prepare for this lift in new clients by adding a ‘New to Pilates?’ section to our website. This helps set client’s expectations, as we know the Pilates equipment can be intimidating.”

Help new members deal with muscle soreness  

Working toward new fitness goals inevitably comes with aching muscles — which Coss Marte, founder of ConBody says can prevent new members from coming back. “As hard as we push new members, we also emphasize mobility and muscle recovery with daily use of the BodyworksBall to roll out their entire bodies throughout the day,” he explains. “So many people who push themselves hard the beginning of the year stop going to the gym because they are too sore, so we keep them coming by keeping mobility and muscle recovery a necessary part of their overall wellness.”

Offer studio challenges  

To keep members inspired past January, Gordon recommends running studio challenges that span beyond the first month of the year. “This is a great time to run a challenge, like a 6-week specialized program, around your studio,” she says. “Clients pay for the experience and the results. If you can offer a good deal and make the program exclusive, you’re setting up for success.” As far as what that challenge encompasses, Gordon says to think beyond your studio offerings. “Partner with a dietitian for nutritional consulting, work with a food brand to give bars/meals out to the first 10 members to register, and offer up prizes like a free month of classes if a person wins the challenge,” she says. “You can also create a points system, so if people tag you on Instagram, they get a higher score on the challenge and your studio becomes visible to their network of friends. Now that you’re creating a positive experience and a special program that will yield positive results, you’ll reel in the new members for the long haul.”