Friday, 22 August 2014

Should gym inductions be mandatory?

Part of the GGFaqs series.  The GGFit Frequently Asked Questions page is buzzing at the moment, here's the latest posting hot off the press…

Some clubs let people skip the gym induction process these days. Does this affect sales/retention and what should we do from a health and safety point of view?

Many years ago, you'd struggle to join a gym without having to go through the “gym induction”. This appointment has various names, from welcome session, to getting started. At best, it is a chance to outline exercise goals and get to know the member's needs and build their confidence, at worst, it's a glorified tour and standard exercise programme template.
Before we cover the sales and retention angles, let's just say we're not going to cover health and safety. You need to check your own club policy and insurance in terms of how your members are covered for exercise.

Research shows that members who have some form of induction appointment will stay longer on average than those who don't. If this “Welcome appointment” is delivered well, it sets-up the member with clearly defined goals, exercises, and a feedback mechanism to stay in touch with the instructor or other members of staff in the club. But only a few clubs make the induction mandatory for the right reason (to welcome the member and help them stick around). The rest are doing it for health and safety reasons, or simply to tick a box, because you have to have an induction before you start.

And this is one of the reasons that some clubs now are letting people skip the induction. Granted, some clubs are allowing experienced exercisers to avoid going through the same old routine, but there's often new kit or exercises that they would learn about in a refresher session. There are also people who fear the induction (click here to google gym induction!) and making the induction optional removes a barrier to entry to the prospect who doesn't fancy it.

Consider a prospective member who is considering two gyms, both a similar price, location, and quality. One mandates the induction, the other makes it optional… which will get more members?

Some newer clubs (particularly budget gyms) have used this as a key differentiator. You might need to say you're experienced, and will then get the option of choosing an induction or not, but this is something anyone can work around. If the club gets more prospects and sales, then perhaps making the induction optional is a good thing.

In our experience, the optional induction is another opportunity to engage with the member and improve retention. When clubs we work with offer a welcome session, we do our best to make sure all new members show up, by sending an sms or email reminder. Those who don’t show get more communication to attempt to re-book.
New members who don’t choose to have an welcome session will get re-offered the induction at 2 weeks and at the end of their first month, sometimes with a “it's in the interest of your own health and fitness” message.

You can remove the barriers to entry by making the induction optional, but in the interest of retaining as many members as long as possible, it's best to encourage as many members as possible to have a welcome session. And if an absent member returns, offer them a “welcome back session”!

Please add your comments, thoughts, or practices on online joining below, or submit your own GGFaq here or by email to

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