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4 Ways to Increase Member Retention in a Gym or Studio

You’ve got members coming through your door, but what are your member retention rates? The lifetime value of a member helps you to understand the return on your marketing efforts. More importantly, it helps you to understand if you are marketing to the right people, at the right time.

In this article, we will cover the importance of the gym environment and all its aspects on member retention. The culture, the space, the equipment, and the overall atmosphere play a key role in creating an experience that will increase the lifetime value of your members. On top of that, breaking down these key aspects give you an idea of what your client base wants and expects out of your fitness center.

Design of Space and the Effect on Member Retention

How inviting is your gym or studio’s space? Is this a place where people feel welcomed, comfortable, and able to reach their fitness goals?

In brief, environmental psychology is largely impactful on the success of a business and how people are attracted to it. The functionality and overall design (colors, geometry, and light) of the space elicits specific emotions and reactions from the people who inhabit it. Therefore, to get more clients in a gym, it must have an environment that instills fitness-oriented emotions and focus.

Common examples of the careful design of space are fast-food restaurants. They are specifically designed to support a social atmosphere where people are subconsciously influenced to feel hungry.

The same concept applies when designing a logo and branding for a fitness business. This should translate into the design of the space and help to develop the culture in the gym or studio and how it makes people feel when they are exercising there.

The amount of space at fitness centers holds special importance. A bad day at the gym usually begins with an inability to comfortably workout without interruption or needing to wait for a space on the gym floor to open up. Often, a huge deterrent for people is feeling like they have no space to get comfortable and complete their routine. It’s one thing to have to wait for the crowd to clear out so you can use your favorite equipment. It’s another thing to be rushed through your routine because others are waiting on you for the equipment you’re using.

Having enough space and the right design to the space make the gym experience much more pleasant.


How much equipment can you fit in your space and where does it go? The layout of your gym space should give way to proper and well-planned placement of equipment.

Does the equipment in your gym line up with the wants and needs of the members your fitness center attracts? To increase the traffic of clients in a gym, the equipment needs to cater to the type of members that are attracted there in the first place. A gym that mostly hosts seniors probably wouldn’t have as much strength training equipment as a CrossFit gym.

More diverse equipment means that members will have more opportunities for unique experiences. People all too often become bored with workout routines, so a range of useful equipment is an attractive quality to members.


Ensure that your gym caters to the right audience and a wide range of members. Do this by hiring personal trainers who specialize in different areas of fitness. Gyms often attract a wide range of member types. Members find gyms more attractive when they have the option of receiving specialized training to meet their specific goals.

Populations that need specialized training programs are:

  • Senior citizens
  • People with heart disease or diabetes
  • Those who suffer from chronic pain
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Women during pregnancy and postpartum

Staff undoubtedly plays a huge role in member retention because of the way they practice and add to the culture. Comprehensive training programs and regular staff development help to ensure that employees provide the best experience for gym members. In turn, this helps reduce employee and personal trainer turnover rates in gyms and studios.

With less turnover and happier employees, your fitness businesses culture can thrive. When your culture is thriving, your clients are buying.

Cultivating a Thriving Culture

The culture of your business is what keeps clients signing up and returning. How effective the environment is in helping them reach their goals is the bottom line of the culture your gym should embody. So ask this, “What do customers want and need from a gym?” of your target market and make changes to meet those desires.

An example of a culture that helps members thrive is competitive spin classes. People attend those fitness classes because they want the vibrance and the energy that comes with an instructor pushing them to their limits on a bike. It helps them reach their overall health goals and gives them a mental boost for overcoming the challenge of the class.

Hand in hand with that, the sense of camaraderie and community that forms through that studio setting incredibly enhances member retention. Yet, there are many different things that any fitness center can employ to keep its members around and extend their lifetime value. This works for cycling studio settings but might not fly in a gym setting like the YMCA.

People who attend YMCAs go for the friendly nature of the gym. The Y invites families and people of all ages to participate in fitness and wellness and fosters a very friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

So, once again, what do your gym members want and need out of your gym? What type of audience are you reigning in and how can you and your team make their experience better?

Reward members through things like loyalty programs and innovative, engaging ideas for new experiences in the gym!

Creating New Gym Experiences

Keeping experiences at the gym fresh can have a huge effect on member retention. Creating new challenges for members and/or offering updated classes can prevent members from feeling restless. In all fairness, there will always be a group that appreciates the routine and the regular. However, that will not dictate the overall needs of members and many people will need change to stay engaged.

Creating new experiences enhances the culture of your fitness center by letting the members know that you care about growth and their interest. People want to be engaged with the investments they make. A gym membership is an investment and often one that members are on a contract for. So give them the value that they deserve out of their investment with new, engaging experiences.

Experiences are a huge factor in success for many gyms and studios these days. Take a look at the fitness mogul Les Mills. Les Mills classes are experiences that are constantly under innovation and now widely popular in gyms and studios across the world.


Engagement comes in many different forms and its something that is covered in each of the sections covered in this article. It’s the overarching influential factor in member retention. Engagement begins with your marketing and branding and never ends for the customer.

Innovate the ways you engage your customers from the design of your fitness space to the smile on your employee’s faces. The lifetime value of your members will continuously rise and they will appreciate your business significantly more in return.

3 thoughts on “4 Ways to Increase Member Retention in a Gym or Studio

  • Definitely the design is the one i struggle with. I own a studio gym in an old building and making it look more luxurious is a big challenge.

    • Good, effective design takes knowledge and that is not the field you have dedicated your life to. So that is okay! You can always take your own deep dive into researching what is best for studio space design or you can budget for a little help from a professional interior designer. Either way, you are not at a loss for improvement and overcoming that challenge. 🙂

  • Pingback: Fitness Club or Gym Management Software Comparison Guide

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