How to Use Social Networking to Increase Member Retention

Commercial Fitness

How to Use Social Networking to Increase Member Retention

A shocking number of health club members leave their gyms every year, and it often has nothing to do with the facilities or equipment.

Social factors – a sense of belonging, feeling of community, and non-judgmental environment – play a huge role in a member's experience and, ultimately, their decision to stay or go. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make your members feel more welcome and less likely to leave.

The following is a summarization of an education session from the 2015 IHRSA Convention, produced with full permission from IHRSA. The full-length video is available for purchase at

About the Speaker

J.R. Anciano is the Sales Director for GymGroups.

Social networking

Why Do People Quit?

On average, 40 percent of joining members will leave the facility within a year. That percentage equates to an approximate loss of $47 billion throughout the industry each year due to high attrition rates. Knowing that member loss is a huge issue, how can you increase your club's retention rates?

The first step is understanding why members quit. People leave fitness clubs for many reasons, including financial concerns, feeling alienated, or being intimidated. It is estimated that 70 percent of gym members quit due to social considerations. This knowledge should help shape your retention strategy.

Gym Member Retention

GymGroups believes the key to retaining exercisers is creating a private social network for the members within your club. These networks are exclusive, help form relationships within the facility, and contribute to the creation of an overall sense of belonging. A private social network can be accessed with an app on a mobile phone, providing easy access for members and trainers.

An exclusive social network for your club can provide an elevated sense of tribe. People want to feel that they are part of something larger than themselves. Some networks include member profiles and private messaging. This networked information can be used to track activity and collect data about members’ fitness habits and preferences.

Social networks also provide:

  • Easy access to trainers and staff
  • Easy instant booking of classes and programs
  • Featured members' performances
  • Sub-groups
  • Pictures and sharing
  • Personalized blogs
  • Polls and surveys

Although social media networks, such as Facebook, can provide a great marketing and promotion platform for fitness facilities, they do not offer fitness activity tracking or access to other members within the facility. A custom internal network is exclusive to your gym. It offers access to a member’s workout history. This can be invaluable from a marketing and operations standpoint, allowing you to tailor offerings based upon the specific data collected.

The social network app can automatically capture a member’s physical activities and push that information to a home feed, enabling others in the gym to view the data and comment. This service does not require members to spend additional money on wrist or armbands in order to track their fitness habits.

Having an exclusive network for your club can also aid in retention. Leaving the club means members will lose all their tracked information, which may deter them from leaving. Networked information can be useful for marketing and promotion to generate specific demographic information based upon members’ profiles and activities. With this information, you can specifically target members with any programs in which they may have an interest, based upon data accumulated.

You are in the people business and need to consider the personal side of the member experience. Provide the best, most exciting and engaging experience to retain members and attract new ones. Establishing in-house networking may be able to give members, who might otherwise leave, a sense of belonging in your club.