Top 6 Fitness Challenges to Engage and Retain Your Gym Members

The goal of all health clubs is to increase member engagement, because members that actually use your facility are more likely to continue to use the club. However, 44% of all gym members are showing up to health clubs less than four times a month, making them high cancellation risk members. It is difficult to entice those once-a-weekers to come into the club and feel part of the community, as most health club owners know.

Keeping members engaged and interested in your services is an ongoing challenge. As a gym owner, it’s vital to keep rethinking ways of engaging your members. One sure-fire way to keep engagement high is by organizing fitness challenges.

Fitness challenges are an effective tactic to increase engagement and membership retention. Through using mobile apps and wearables, creating challenges has never been easier. Encouraging members to join competitions is an effective way of engaging with clients. After all, who doesn’t like fun and rewards?

Despite the mixed long-term results of contestants on the TV show The Biggest Loser, its commercial success sheds light on how challenges can not only connect with an audience but keep them coming back again and again. That’s why many health clubs have held their own versions of the quick weight-loss contest.

Entice members to participate in a contest or challenge by offering low-cost prizes such as personal training sessions, club branded products such as towels or water bottles and even a free month or two - making it a relatively low-investment member retention strategy.

Contests are great for retention, by integrating social media, email and other technology into them you can not only keep those that are coming to the club engaged, you just may bring back some that have gone MIA. For example, you can:

  • Use Twitter and a custom hashtag to track results
  • Use social media to post winners and prizes on your Facebook page
  • Instagram a picture of the winning recipe from your healthy eating contest
  • Provide email updates to members telling them how to get started

There a many types of challenges or contests that can run, depending on what you offer and the space you have.  We have outlined below six fitness challenges you can use to engage and retain members:

1. Weight Loss Challenge

Weight loss challenges can be done using overall pounds lost during a challenge, the percentage of weight lost, or better yet, a body composition change. Track weight loss with weekly check-ins and keep a leader board both in your club and on your social media channels. This is a great time also to get participants to enroll in classes or work with personal trainers at a reduced fee for being a contestant, not only improving retention but boosting the bottom line at the same time.

2. Move Around the World

Offer your members miles for activity time. For example, if a member does 10 minutes on a treadmill, he or she will earn 10 miles. If they take a rowing class for 45 minutes, that’ll get the contestant 45 miles closer to the prizes. Have members track their progress in-club and if possible online and social media and offer themed prize based on the reaching destinations along the way as they travel around the globe.

3. The Amazing Race

Give each two-person team a list of exercise machines, classes and other fitness requirements throughout the facility and see who finishes first. For example, you can list 20 push-ups, a TRX class, a run in the park and more on the list. Have them record or take photos and tag it on their social media with #[CLUBNAME]AmazingRace as proof. This will not only keep them honest but will make it even more fun while allowing others to see how fun your club makes fitness.

4. Hold an “-A-Thon”

This can be a dance-a-thon with Zumba, a yogathon, cycle-a-thon or even a run-a-thon. These options are only limited by what offerings you have in your health club and your creativity. Start the contest on a Friday night or weekend morning and let it go until the winner is the only one left “a-thoning.” Have your instructors rotate throughout to keep it fresh and fun. Better yet, is to do your “a-thon” for a local charity making it about supporting a good cause in addition to getting your members active and engaged with your club.

5. Recipe of the Month

Show your members that you offer more than just a place to work out. Partner with a local healthy restaurant or smoothie bar to hold a recipe of the month contest for your members. Have members vote on the recipe they like the most, and the winner can receive a coupon to the restaurant. Better yet, the restaurant can give them (and the club) props by offering the item on the menu as “Gym X’s” dish of the month by “Member Name.” You can also offer a tasting at the club to encourage members to come in—and help promote your partner. This contest not only encourages members to participate but can also create great buzz outside the club’s four walls.

6. Offer a prize for check-ins

One of the best and simplest ways to encourage members to come to the club is to reward them for actually coming into the club. Technology makes this even easier and more fun. Have members track check-ins on Facebook and Foursquare. Offer the person that makes it in the most a free month. Maybe the second and third place members get lesser prizes.

So, what fitness challenges are you going to try? We’d love to hear!

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