By Raven Haynes, Special AFS Contributor

Your gym members have already made a significant commitment to your business — they signed up! But even the most dedicated gym-goer needs help staying motivated, and your customers may respond better to positive reinforcement and motivational tactics than negative reinforcement (or no attempt at all).

Why is this? In a way, negative reinforcement is already built into the health and fitness cycle. If your members don’t exercise consistently and increase the difficulty of their routine, they lose their “gains” and hard-won progress. They may even start feeling stressed out, lazy or unattractive without their workouts.

“Tough love” and other forms of negative reinforcement — like a punch to the face if you don’t hold your gloves up during sparring — may work when it’s time to push hard during a workout. But if you want to create positive motivation that keeps your members coming back, try the following 5 tips:

Create a sense of community with events and challenges

The opportunity for new social connections and achievements is often that extra "something” that makes a fitness club stand out. Here are some quick ideas:

  • One-off training sessions for local events, like 5Ks and marathons
  • In-club fitness challenge or three-week summer bootcamp
  • Social event outside of the gym, like group dinner after spin class
  • Social event inside or near your gym, like a meet-and-greet with light breakfast and snacks before a workout session
  • Seasonal competitions, like tennis or basketball tournaments

Not sure what your members are interested in? Use marketing features within a gym management software to email or text a survey where people can vote on ideas. Competitions are a great opportunity to reward your members with pre-loaded, branded gift cards or discounted classes training sessions.


Offer a Refer-a-Friend program

They don’t call them “gym buddies” for nothing. Friends hold their friends accountable for personal goals, and that goes double for gym members! With a workout partner in tow each week, it’s much more likely that your members will look forward to their workouts and keep up with attendance. Plus, you’ll increase your new member numbers without dedicating more time to outreach. For even more insight, ask your members what it was about your gym that made their friend say “yes”.

Reach out with relatable marketing efforts

You already know that follow-through is key to a successful business. Has it been a while since your members have shown up? You don’t have to fill their inbox or blow up their phone. Set up automated reminders to encourage them to come back. Remind them of why they signed up and what’s waiting for them when they get back. In fact, 83% of consumers prefer communication from local businesses via email, text or push notification. Don’t be shy!

Greet them by name (when possible)

At the in-club juice bar, at the counter during a sale or signup, during check-in — you can show your customers they’re one in a million by using their name! How? A unified POS system with distinct and updated customer profiles can help. See customer attendance, class history and even connect your members’ social profiles to your system (with their consent). Empowering your staff to engage with customers organically also contributes to a welcoming culture and sense of familiarity at your gym.

Reward great attendance!

Maintaining exercise routines through busy schedules, work assignments and family commitments deserves to be rewarded! If you track attendance using a gym management software, you can offer incentives like pre-loaded branded gift cards for your most consistent members. To improve member attendance, lifespan or loyalty, try these 5 tactics today!

For more ways to strengthen your customer base (and save money), click here:!

Raven is a content specialist at TransNational Payments, a merchant services provider for small- and medium-sized businesses. She creates instructional guides, blogs and how-to videos to help fitness business owners attract members and optimize their businesses. Raven also promotes new products and services from TransNational Payments, like Full Service Payroll, gym management software and affordable payment processing services, to fitness professionals.

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