Retention is the Name of the Game

We all know that January brings ton’s of new memberships. From our last blog post, we spoke to how 62% of new years revolve around fitness goals, so this is no surprise. New members bring in a lot of revenue, but they rarely finish their first year.

However, we don’t talk often about the huge drop off of new memberships in the first quarter. The largest reason is that it’s impossible to pinpoint why people quit gyms, and if we can even control it. Data from Peak Payment Solutions show that nearly 30% of new members quit within 4 months. Even if this an annual trend, owners can try to minimize this behavior in some way, right? IHRSA recently reported that average memberships in 2017 had raised to $765 per year. Some basic math shows that owners are likely leaving roughly $544 per member on the table. This is a huge lost revenue opportunity for both small and large clubs.


Looking at the data there are two big clusters for churn – 4 months and 12 months. This may not be a surprise for many of us in the industry, but it’s still shocking to see. We must ask ourselves, “Why would someone stop their journey before they even got started? How can owners and coaches set them up better for success?” Through our network of clients around the world, we’ve found there are 3 big things that can increase the probability that this member will stay engaged and last the year.

3 Steps for a Member Journey for Increased Retention

  1. Set Clear Goals for Success: We encourage gyms to use ANY kind of assessment technology to get an accurate benchmark for their body. Once you’ve talked about their starting point, you can talk specifics about what “Linear Path to Success” is reasonable for them. You want to set clear goals that are possible for them to achieve with their current situation. Most people quit because their expectations are off or unachievable. For Fit3D clients, showing a 3D body scan with circumference measurements is an easy way to start a discussion about what parts of their body we can focus on together.

  2. Have a Plan (A Path to Success): Based on the data above, we also can make the assumption that many people quit within 30 days. Maybe it takes them longer to figure out how to quit formally, but they really never got started. From talking to trainers and owners in this space, many of our clients stress the importance of mapping out for members who they should work with, what classes to take, and what effort is required to achieve those results. If we don’t set our members up for success, we almost guarantee they will quit if we leave it up to them to design their own plan. You are the expert at your gym, help them get a great on-boarding experience. Plug: 3D body scans once a month help members visualize their results and see how it relates back to your program.

  3. Lastly: Peer Accountability: This last item may seem trivial, but peer motivation at gyms is powerful. Tell them to bring a friend in for free or have a workout buddy. One study we found that pairs of people that workout together quit 36.7% less. Or taking this into the social media realm, ask members to share their 3D body scans on Instagram to get encouragement from their followers. This can also help with recruiting new members through the power of social proof.

There are so many variables on why people quit, but we believe that following the “Membership Journey” approach outlined above can decrease churn. While it might be incremental, everyone in this industry would love to retain more members. It costs 9X more to get a new member than to keep the ones you have. The biggest recommendation we have here is to use an assessment technology at your facility. In addition to helping attract new members and differentiating your gym, we feel that having a starting body assessment helps members have a foundational starting point to their pathway to success. For Fit3D specifically, our client’s members speak highly about how the 3D body scans helps hold them accountable and lets them understand how their program is affecting their body in key areas. For many of our clients, this is one of the main reasons they attribute to higher retention numbers.

If you have any other questions about this post or 3d body scanning for fitness, contact us via our website.

Patrick Donnelly