What is it that keeps fitness club members coming back?

When a person decides to invest in a club or studio membership, he or she usually has a goal in mind — one that is specific to enriching or bettering his or her life through the membership. The pursuit of these goals is typically the driving force behind membership use and renewals. From the club owner or manager’s vantage point, if members are successful in attaining their goals (or, at the very least, have their long-term goals within sight), they will see value in their membership, which will keep them coming back month after month, year after year.

Personalized assessments, which are created by trainers and coaches, are unique to each member and can be an effective tool to positively impact retention. People like to know they are making progress, and assessments help them see tangible results by showing them how much closer they are moving toward their intended goal. To further member engagement, it’s critical to have processes in place that continually track and quantify each member’s progress, which adds value and demonstrates that you are invested in their success.

And this investment must always be personal. Ensure that the assessments you select cater to the individual goals, needs and physical abilities of the member. Avoid a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

It’s also important that you don’t treat assessments as a “one-and-done” proposition. The first step is to establish a baseline assessment, which will depend on the goal and where the member is in his or her program’s progression timeline. From there, assessments should be considered an ongoing and continual process that keeps members motivated and moving forward. Remember: The more personalized and tangible your assessments are (for example, giving the client something to take with them, such as a printed sheet or PDF), the more likely they are to have an impact on the client’s perception of his or her progress.

Health and exercise professionals have a wide range of assessments available to help clients understand their areas of strengths and identify areas that need attention. The key is to select the most appropriate one(s) at the right time that will offer the greatest immediate benefit to a member. This, in turn, will serve their continued success over the long-term. And, for most gyms, studios and clubs, it’s all about the long-run.

When members know where they are in their fitness journey, can see where they are going next, and can feel a bit of what they can accomplish in the end, they are more likely to connect and adhere to their programs and become more attached to the people and places supporting them. Additionally, their successes (no matter how big or small) may even lead them to become advocates for both your club and their trainers, sharing and celebrating their successes with friends and family, driving an even greater range of people through your doors.

In short, assessments help better prepare and serve each member on a personalized fitness journey. They also give your staff a great opportunity to connect and communicate. And connection is what keeps people coming back to your club.


This article was produced in conjunction with the American Council on Exercise (ACE). For more information about practical assessments for fitness professionals, be sure to attend ACE's session at AB Show 2018.