Last week we determined that creating a positive fitness experience will impact your bottom line far more than any monthly membership special. Now let’s take a look at what it takes to create a memorable fitness experience that will make your members the best physical and social media ambassadors for your facility.
The Nielsen Corporation, a global marketing research firm that studies consumer trends and habits in over 100 countries, conducted a survey on consumer fitness trends, stats, and insights for fitness facilities. This study was designed to examine the habits and preferences of exercisers including who is exercising, what are they doing, and why/what drives them into facilities.
Who is exercising? Millennials and Baby Boomers – 81% of Millennials and 61% of Boomers surveyed said that they currently exercise or would like to. These are the two groups of people with which fitness facilities have the most growth opportunity.
What are they doing? 61% of regular exercisers workout in a gym environment – with cardio machines, free weights, selectorized weight machines, a personal trainer, or attend a group fitness type class.
What drives people into facilities? Here are the top membership drivers:
- Location = convenience
- Atmosphere = environment
- Equipment & Fitness Classes = amenities
- My friends go there = community
Perhaps the most interesting point to note here is what was not listed. COST was not ranked as a top driver for regular exercisers; revealing that regular attendees of a fitness facility agree their monthly or annual membership dues match the value placed upon it. This also means prospective members are willing to pay the asking price for access to a facility that excels at offering the drivers that YOU can control: atmosphere, equipment, and fitness classes.
Atmosphere – What is the vibe of your club? Literally, what does it feel like when you walk in? So many things can influence the vibe of your facility on a day-to-day basis, but again, let’s look at the things you can control. Upon first impression, does it appeal to the senses?
- Sight – Is your overall look – clean, modern, and professional? Or kitschy, dated, and chaotic?
- Touch – Is the air cool and comfortable? Or, hot and stuffy?
- Smell – Is there a smell? Is it pleasant?
- Sound – Loud music and weights clangin’ and bangin’? Or background music that matches the hum of the cardio deck?
The right and wrong answers to these questions will be determined by you and are unique to each space; regardless the vibe of your space will be perceived as positive when the atmosphere meets or exceeds the customer’s expectation.
Equipment – While the birthdate of the equipment in your club might not have the biggest impact on member retention, its function and appearance might. Classic cars can appeal to any age, if kept in mint condition. Quality control of your equipment makes a big impact. If you have to walk by three “out of order” signs before you can settle in on a working piece, you can bet this will have a negative impact on your member’s experience.
Upkeep of the equipment is also just as important. If members don’t even want to use certain machines or accessories because they look dirty, clunky, or intimidating; you might want to consider some updates. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a completely new cardio deck or a new set of free weights. Make a big impact by simply updating some of the equipment with new handles, grips, or upholstery. Adding some shiny new stability balls, kettlebells, and mats can refresh your space at minimum cost.
Establishing an overall inviting club atmosphere with consistent equipment standards will enhance your ability to create a complete fitness experience in your facility that your members can’t wait to share. Next week we will conclude our series on member engagement and retention by examining the results of the Nielson survey that pertain specifically to some of your most loyal members – the group fitness regulars.