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Increase gym membership by up to 75%

PRAMA Concept Development Manager at Pavigym.

According to research conducted by the IHRSA, the first 90 days are crucial for fitness club memberships as most members cancel or fail to renew during that period. This suggests that paying attention to what happens during the first 3 months of a new membership is key to increase gym membership and reduce your attrition levels.

“The failure rate for the most part of physical activity programs is generally 6 months after starting.” Club Industry.

And Paul Bedford, an international leader in retention research studies, provides further analysis:

Only 15% of members have the self-efficacy to succeed on their own, the vast majority, 85%, need specific support to succeed.”

So, what’s the solution? A good MIP (Members Induction Process) in your facility!

Paul Bedford’s research on retention shows that:

Only one effective induction session drives retention up 38%, guiding members through a MIP with follow-ups and appointments increase overall retention by 75%.


1. What is a gym MIP (Members Induction Process)?

An MIP is a planned process during which new members are gradually integrated into the club, allowing them to acknowledge the various activities, services, and amenities the club can offer them. It’s important to consider the new member’s goals and needs in order to avoid negative experiences; supporting them in achieving their goals also improves their club experiences.

When implemented properly, the MIP delivers results. Without it, approximately 50% of new members leave during the first year. (Citation: Club Industry)

An MIP should be mandatory if you want to succeed as a business!

Let’s take a look at what an MIP should focus on:

1.1. The rate of member visits per week.

Members visits per week is a critical factor which will influence how long they stay. The IHRSA has stated that low attendance is one of the top reasons why members leave clubs. Below you can see the impact of member visits per week on extra months of membership, based on Paul Bedford’s research:

  • 2 visits per week: 7 months
  • 2-3 visits per week: 19 months
  • 3+ visits per week: 28 months.

A low number of visits per week from your members will also demotivate them due to their lack of physical improvements, which is another of the main reasons members decide to quit.

How can you encourage an increase in gym visits per week through your MIP?

Include a rewards program associated with visits per week during the MIP for which they will receive a monthly gift if they attend the club at least three times per week.

For example:

The first month:

12 visits earns a nice, club-branded sports bag, which also doubles as a brand exposure marketing action.

16 visits earns a heart rate monitor.

The second month:

12 visits earns a 15% discount on extra services in the facility.

16 visits earns a 20% discount on extra services in the facility. (Or limit the discounts to certain products or services)

This is just an example. Of course, you are better placed to think of what would make good rewards in your case.

1.2. The kinds of activities your members enjoy

You can influence the member’s engagement using planned activities during the MIP.

Group exercises vs solo workouts.

Members who visit once per week to take part in a group exercise class are 20% more likely to be loyal members than those attending three times per week but train alone. Also, members who participate in group exercise regularly, as opposed to gym only users, are 84% more likely to recommend their facility to a friend or family member. (Citation: Dr Melvyn Hillsdon research with The Retention People.)

This means that you’ll want to make sure that group activities are an important component of your MIP, while also encouraging many of your members to practice group activities. Think about the boutique fitness concepts, which are shown to have higher retention levels and visits per week. They are all based on group exercise.

1.3. Avoid negative training experiences.

Ensure your members don’t attempt any activity that isn’t appropriate for their level of fitness. This is another typical pitfall experienced by clubs without MIP or any guidance for their members. Members take part in activities that are not appropriate for them, regardless of intensity or fitness level, meaning their experience is inadequate. The members that are participating in negative training experiences are the ones who decide to quit, which of course makes it much more difficult to increase gym membership.

There must be clear guidance during the different MIP weeks regarding which activities they shouldn’t try until they are programmed by their MIP trainer. Member induction IS NOT a pre-scripted session. It must be a process that follows a clear strategy and includes a follow-up and appointments, lasting from 6 to 12 weeks depending on your structure and potential.

2. What should the gym MIP include?

2.1. An initial questionnaire.

An initial questionnaire will help you understand the needs of your new members and how to keep them stimulated and motivated to keep coming back to your gym. It should include helpful information such as:

* Understanding their needs and setting their goals.

* Understanding their lifestyle. (Job, schedules, family or not…)

* Emotional/psychological aspects to help people understand themselves.

* Habits that prevent them reaching their goals

* The real reasons behind their bad habits

* Fitness questionnaire: PAR-Q, health-related questions, training related questions.


2.2. Appointments.

You should arrange appointments with your new members 1 to 3 weeks, depending on your availability. At the very least, they should be given an appointment when they start or during the first 3-4 weeks. Weekly appointments would be better if possible.

The appointment should include a satisfaction questionnaire. Remember, the goal is to detect dissatisfaction in different areas in order to improve member retention by guaranteeing the member is coming to the club as planned with regard to the number of visits per week. Any member detected as a potential loss should be passed on to Customer Service to work on their point of dissatisfaction. The questionnaire should be simple, for example:

Has the member attended the gym as planned? YES/NO. Number of sessions

What is your level of satisfaction with our services? Very high/High/Medium/Low

What is your level of satisfaction with our activities? Very high/High/Medium/Low

What is your level of satisfaction with our facilities and equipment? Very high/High/Medium/Low

What is your general level of satisfaction with our club? Very high/High/Medium/Low

Do you feel you are noticing results or improving as expected? YES/NO

Your motivation to remain a member is… Very high/High/Medium/Low

2.3. Plan strategic activities for the next 1 to 3 weeks depending on how often you set the MIP appointments

It’s better not to set a schedule; instead include activities they should do and let them choose when. Giving them this flexibility will work better. The planning procedure for the different phases of the MIP must be very clear on integrating new activities as and when new members are ready for them. There must be clear advice on which activities they shouldn’t try.

2.4. Plan strategic activities for the next MIP period

Use measurements and tests in order to show results and progress. Weight and body composition should be included.

After the MIP you need to make sure that the member recognises, understands, and feels comfortable with all the activities and services you offer, and knows how to use the club effectively.

If you focus on the points discussed, you’ll find that you’ll be able to increase gym membership and improve member retention without investing excessive resources. Good luck with your MIP!