How to Engage and Retain Gym Members During the Holidays


To say the holidays are a hectic time would be an understatement for most. Between digging out the decorations, prepping for celebrations, shopping for gifts, and traveling to see or hosting family, there’s not much time left for self-care. For gym-goers, this often means falling off track with their exercise routine as other distractions and obligations take precedence. 

As a fitness club owner, you’re likely to see the chaos of this season reflected in decreased member attendance and engagement. If you want to keep your clients active, you’ll have to increase your efforts to motivate and entice them. 

In this article, you’ll learn more about how to capitalize on current fitness trends to add value to your memberships, incentivize clients, and boost gym member retention through the holidays and beyond. 

The Bottom Line Today: A Look at the Impact of the Pandemic on the Fitness Industry 

It would be impossible to conceive or implement any truly effective strategies for engaging members of your gym without considering how the pandemic has affected the fitness world. COVID-19 has shifted the needs, preferences, priorities, and goals of your clientele — here’s how: 

A holistic approach to health 

Mental, emotional, and spiritual fitness is just as important as physical fitness to much of post-pandemic society. One of the top motivators for exercising today, identified by 35% of consumers surveyed in a recent IHRSA report, was mental well-being. We can see this reflected in the rise in popularity of activities like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness exercises. 

At-home workouts 

Gym members are still loving the comfort, convenience, and safety of virtual fitness options. Those who are not yet comfortable returning to in-person facilities are making use of free online workouts, on-demand programs, livestreamed classes, and fitness apps. 

Class-focused clubs 

Boutique clubs that offer class-based workouts make people feel safer. The controlled class sizes and block scheduling limit potential virus exposure and gives clubs time to thoroughly sanitize between each group. 

More interest in fitness 

The imminent threat of COVID-19 — especially to those with largely preventable underlying conditions like obesity and cardiovascular disease — has highlighted the importance of taking care of our bodies. RunRepeat’s study of how the coronavirus has changed people’s fitness routines revealed an 88% increase in exercise for those who normally exercise only 1-2 times per week. 

How to Add Value to Your Gym Memberships 

By last April, 34% of gym exercisers had either canceled or planned on cancelling their memberships. After months of closures and millions of cancellations, many gyms have reached a point where they need to increase membership costs. Although this is completely understandable from a business standpoint, current and new potential members will not be happy. So, what is a gym simply trying to stay afloat to do? 

Especially with the holidays coming up — a time when many clients may consider cancelling their membership to soften the financial blow from the holidays — it is imperative that your members feel the value of your membership is increasing along with the price point. 

Consider these ideas for boosting member retention during a holiday price increase: 

1.     Personalize the member experience. Reach out to members to discuss goals, provide fitness assessments, give personalized recommendations, and check in with their progress throughout their journey. 

2.     Expand your services. Give clients more bang for their buck with new classes, updated equipment, wellness and recovery services (nutritionists, massage, stretching area, mental health resources), weight loss programs, accountability coaching, and livestream or on-demand options. 

3.     Use Point of Sale to your advantage. Invest in state-of-the-art POS software, so your team can easily supplement services with merchandise your members will find valuable. (Here’s some more info about increasing revenue and enhancing your member experience using point of sale.) 

4.     Simplify membership management with a mobile app. The less work your members have to do to arrange the details for their workout, the more value they’ll attribute to your services. Make it easy for members to view schedules, book sessions, check into the club, make payments, and access their member profile with a killer mobile app

6 Ways to Incentivize Gym Members to Boost Retention through the Holiday Season 

The onset of the holidays is a great time to revamp your efforts to engage with members and motivate them to stick to their goals. Here are a few ways you can kickstart your holiday fitness marketing campaign: 

1.) Hold a competition. 

The drive to win a prize (or even just ultimate bragging rights) can be a great motivator for your holiday-fatigued gym members. Run challenges throughout November and December that get people moving. Don’t forget to include at-home options to engage those who are too busy to stop in or still hesitant to return. 

Try it: Each time someone checks in to the gym, they earn a set number of points. Whoever has the most points at the end of the month gets a $100 gift card to your retail store. 

2.) Create a rewards program. 

Loyalty programs are great automated tools for ongoing engagement. Create a special rewards system for the holiday season or, if you don’t have a program yet, time your launch for early November to make those forthcoming Black Friday deals even more enticing. 

Try it: For every 10 group classes a member takes, they get their next class (or two—come on, it’s the season of giving!) free. 

3.) Host a holiday event. 

For many members, the social aspect of going to the gym is just as important as the fitness component. Plan an event to celebrate the holidays, such as a themed class, after-hours party, family fun night, or a holiday tournament. 

Try it: Have a holiday happy hour after your most popular spin class time slot to encourage members to mingle with staff and each other. Pepper favorite holiday carols throughout the playlist, deck out the studio in Christmas lights, and serve seasonal cocktails when class is over. 

4.) Offer daily or weekly discounts. 

When you offer a different deal every day or week, members will have no choice but to check back with your socials or at the club to see what’s next. Create a discount campaign that follows a fun holiday theme, like the 12 days of Christmas or 8 days of Hanukkah. 

Try it: On the first day of Christmas my gym gave to me…a pass to bring a brand-new friend free! 

5.) Provide at-home fitness resources. 

Again, with everybody’s busy schedules and lingering Covid fears, getting some members into the gym in the next few months is going to be a tough sell. Keep these members engaged now with virtual workout options, such as livestreamed classes, prerecorded trainer-led workouts, or written programs, so they remember you when their schedules calm down and New Year’s resolution time comes around. 

Try it: Email members a half-hour workout video once a week that they can do at home without equipment. Ask them to post a sweaty selfie or screenshot of their workout stats to their social media when they’re done (and tag you!) in exchange for next week’s class. 

6.) Keep the content flowing. 

It’s especially important during this busy time to maintain a strong online presence. Even if they’re not hitting the gym as often, your members won’t slow down on checking their phones. Stay active on social media and in direct contact with members via email campaigns with fitness tips, healthy holiday recipes, and so forth. 

Try it: Post a #FitFamFriday every week on Instagram that features a photo and short bio of an employee or loyal member. 

Learn How to Boost Gym Member Retention Year-Round 

Engaging and retaining your gym members shouldn’t be just a seasonal priority. Creating a standout member experience is a 24/7, 365 job. Luckily, you can always find the best and newest tips and strategies you need to run a stronger, better fitness business on the ASF blog

Once you’re caught up on the ins and outs of delivering a peak member experience, schedule a demo to learn more about how our all-in-one club management solutions can help you do it! 



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ASF is a leading technology company that provides software, payment processing and customer support to the fitness industry including gyms, health clubs and martial arts studios. Since 1973, we’ve given gym and fitness club owners the ability to generate more revenue through member engagement and stronger communities.

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