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Motivation Is the Key to Retention
By Nicki Anderson

Just as our members wish there were a magic formula for weight loss, we as club owners wish there were a magic formula to keep our clients motivated!

Motivation, the key to client success and retention, yet ever elusive. More often than not, a prime stumbling block for clubs and studios is client retention. With a few targeted strategies you can not only create motivation for your clients, you can be the driving force behind their success. And we all know a successful member is a retained member.

Check out the following strategies and see if they won’t help you in your retention efforts:

Try a reality check: Many potential members walk through your doors expecting to be 30 pounds thinner - - tomorrow. The best thing you can do during a consultation is to set your members up for success. How? By helping them to understand the value in setting realistic goals. By setting small goals that they are able to reach, their level of motivation will dramatically increase. Why? Because instead of expecting some outrageous results, they are setting realistic outcomes and achieving continued success. When your members are consistently achieving their goals, you’ve got a member for life!

Comfort Level: Many of the self-motivated members that work out at your facility obviously feel comfortable, otherwise they wouldn’t be there. I have always believed that the members who need the most attention and motivation are the ones that are often intimidated by the “health club” environment. We’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating that nothing is a bigger turn-off for potential members than an unfriendly, disconnected staff. Create staff “mixers” with your new members. Let them get to know each other. By developing relationships within the club, your new members will look forward to coming back. You will break the stereotype of the unfriendly/uncaring health club by providing a comfortable environment for those who need it most!

Variety: O.K., so you’ve got spinning classes, boot camp, ramp, etc. What programs do you offer for the unmotivated client who may not necessarily be of the fitness level to attend these classes? Understand that the members who are the most unmotivated need something that appeals to where they are in their fitness journey. Make sure that your club or studio has classes that appeal to all levels and ages. Why not offer a “Getting Started, Getting Fit” class? This will provide new members who need more guidance and support a wonderful way to “warm up” to other club offerings. By finding out what your motivationally challenged members want, you can motivate them simply by meeting their needs, through variety. We’ve got plenty of offerings for the motivated, why not offer something for the unmotivated, a.k.a. deconditioned client?

Educate, Educate, Educate: One of the biggest reasons motivation dies in new members is because expectations weren’t met. One of the key strategies to keep your clients on top of their game is to educate them. If you have an area in your club or studio that lends itself to a classroom setting, why not offer nutrition classes, healthy living classes, or basic fitness classes? The general population is bombarded with poor health and fitness information. Providing qualified teachers and meaningful education will assist your clients in sorting out the misinformation that has hindered their success in attaining a healthy and fit lifestyle. With education there is power!

Motivation is powered by hope. If potential members come into your studio, look around and feel hopeless, motivation is lost. It is our job as health and fitness professionals to be an “equal opportunity” facility. Where there is opportunity there is hope, where there is hope, there is motivation and a lifelong client!

Nicki Anderson, NASM, is the owner of Reality Fitness, Inc., a personal training studio in Naperville, IL. She is the author of, “Reality Fitness; Inspiration for Your Health and Well-being”. In addition to presenting motivational seminars nationally, she is the health and fitness columnist for Chicago Suburban News and co-presenter for DVD, Essential Business Tools for Fitness Professionals. For more information contact Nicki at