Friday, 25 January 2019

January Gym-bashing backlash!

Liz Terry of Leisure Media has called for the annual gym-bashing to stop. With the rise of social media, constant content and fake news, there seem to be more stories of how evil the fitness industry is, with everyone from the Guardian to the Sunday Times saying how people should do without the gym.

The January rush story is never going to go away, but it’s worth talking about what we can do to combat this bad press. Here’s what we do when talking to friends and family, or taking the battle online…
  • Debunking the myth that everybody joins in January, and is ‘gone’ by March… There’s no denying that January is one of the busiest months for new members at most gyms, but did you know September is a close second? September is when many people get back from holiday, kids go back to school, students back to college. Not many people make September resolutions, but it’s definitely another busy month for the fitness industry. As for all the new members being gone by March, if that is the case, then the business needs to take a long look at its processes, especially with today’s more flexible (better) contract terms!
  • Good gyms (the ones we’re working with!) have a process or journey that the new member understands, and sometimes even follows. This ensures that the new member builds up the exercise habit. There are milestones on the new member journey that trigger rewards or messages when reached. If a milestone is missed, that can also trigger a call or other communications to get the member back on track.
  • Managing the expectations of the existing members in January is also important, and something that good gyms do. Getting more members’ programme reviews done in December, and putting on extra beginners’ classes in January can show you’re thinking of your long-term members too. You need to tell your existing members you’re doing this; communication is paramount. If you’re thinking of extending opening hours, make the extra hour in the morning available to long term loyal members initially, and again, make sure you communicate this to all eligible members. (If new members start to creep in for the early session too, it shouldn’t be a huge problem!)
  • Finally, I find talking about innovation in the industry helps to change peoples’ perspective. How the boutique sector is delivering bespoke experiences. For example, The Fitness Space are a really successful franchise with a USP of delivering at least one PT session every month to every member, which ensures that all members stick around longer. Many people outside the industry still see low-cost-clubs as new (some of the clubs are new). So, it’s important to talk about the good that they’re doing in getting more people into fitness, making it more accessible, and using digital channels to engage and retain more members.

Unfortunately, we’ve not worked with all clubs yet, so not all gyms are good gyms like the examples above, yet. The gym-bashing will continue, but let’s help Leisure Media, ukactive, and each other to reduce its effect and push out more positive messages for the fitness industry.

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