At the start of January, your fitness studio was packed with new ambitious students. Each class was maxed out with determined class members, all eager to achieve big fitness goals and make positive changes for their health in the next 365 days.
But cut to March, and the fresh new faces are already starting to dwindle.
No fitness studio owner wants to see their new clients throw in the towel. How can you encourage your new students to stick with it, and continue on the fitness journey they set out on at the start of the year? We asked a few studio owners for their best tactics for retaining the resolution crowd past the first month of the year, and they had some insightful suggestions to share.
Set newcomers up with a buddy
It’s easy to bail on workout plans with your friend — because even if they’re mad initially, you know they’ll get over it. Canceling plans with the person your fitness studio matched you up with at the start of your membership in order to keep you both accountable for your goals? Much, much harder.
“Set clients up with an ‘accountability buddy’ at the gym/studio,” says Anne Jones, fitness instructor and personal training specialist. “Match newcomers up with another client who also just started in January, and have them stay in contact to make sure each other are showing up. Sometimes, new friendships will blossom — and now you have maintained two clients, and not just one.”
Establish new goals for spring
One reason why new clients are less steadfast about continuing to work toward their goals come spring is that they’ve had weeks to realize how far they really have to go. Private fitness trainer Brigitte Weil suggests taking the time to talk to new clients about the goals that they want to accomplish in the spring to help keep them motivated.
“In lieu of them feeling disappointed in at the end of January, I start talking to my clients about their spring wish lists,” she says. “I ask them for their fitness wish list, which is always a continuation of their New Year’s resolutions — as resolutions are rarely mastered in the first few weeks of January. At this point, most clients realize what it actually is going to take to reach their goals, and we sit down together to improve upon the original plan of action, with extra attention on incorporating changes that are realistic and manageable. This gives them new focus and inspiration to move forward, along with the practical perspective they have gained in the past several weeks of what works and what doesn’t work.”
Create games and challenges
To keep new members enthusiastic about coming to your studio, have something new and exciting going on each week for them to look forward to. “Games and competitions are fun ways to keep customers engaged,” says Shayla Cornick of CYCLED boutique cycling studio. “They can be centered around customer attendance, building community, or customer performance/growth. Last year, we created a CYCLED! bingo game board and our customers loved it. The squares were filled with different activities to encourage attendance (ie. Rise n Ride at 6 a.m., Weekend Warrior, Bring-A-Friend, etc.). Customers that completed their boards (vertical, horizontal or diagonal stars) within the month received studio swag. Not only did this encourage customers to continue coming to class, but it also encouraged them to introduce someone new to the community.”
Make an extra effort to connect with newcomers
“It may seem impossible to keep up with all the new faces coming to shed pounds and turn over a new leaf in 2017,” says Benson Kelsey, senior trainer at Studio 6 Fitness, “but it is worth it. Make an extra effort to learn your client’s names. Resolutioners have been known to ghost out of their group fitness classes once they realize they can slip into the background.”
Resolutioners have been known to ghost out of their group fitness classes once they realize they can slip into the background.
How do you go about mastering this? “Use a roster or make an effort before class to learn a few clients by name,” Kelsey says, “and always introduce yourself to new clients.”
Getting to know your clients outside of class will further help your cause. “Fostering a sense of community between members and with the studio will create relationships outside the studio,” Kelsey says. “Resolutioners are great clients from the start, but sometimes they need a little more support as time passes. By creating a welcoming environment, clients can find support in each other and the studio. Stay engaged with your clients before or after class, through social media and email newsletters.”
Encourage in-class goals
Often times, setting small scale goals within each class can feel more achievable for newcomers — rather than having them list out all of the goals they’re working toward at once. “Helping your class set attainable goals will keep them motivated far past the six-week mark,” says Angela Mader, founder of Fitlosophy. “Help a class participant to set a goal like perfecting their warrior pose, incorporating a more advanced move in kickboxing, or upping their level on their spin bike. Then, touch base with that person every week, and help them make a plan to accomplish that goal. Encourage them to write down their goals, so they can have a plan in action.”