Boost Member Engagement and Retention in Your Studio with Intentional Programming

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Boost Member Engagement and Retention in Your Studio with Intentional Programming

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As a fitness studio owner, you understand the importance of member engagement and retention. It's not just about attracting new members; it's about keeping them coming back for years to come. Engaged members are not only more likely to renew their memberships, but they also become advocates for your studio, helping you attract new clients through testimonials, referrals, and word-of-mouth. So, how can you create programs that keep your members engaged? Here are some ideas you may not have tried yet to help you boost member engagement and retention.

First, Focus on Customer Experience

I wouldn't be a very good fitness studio consultant if I didn't start with the most essential retention strategy. You can have the best programming in the world, but if your customer experience is lacking, insincere, or inconsistent, you won't be building long-term retention. The customer experience plays a crucial role in member engagement. Try to ensure that every interaction your members have with your studio is positive and speaks to the culture you promote. From the moment they walk in the door to the time they leave, make sure they feel welcomed, valued, and supported. Everything else is a bonus, but that is the baseline requirement for a boutique fitness studio experience. 

Next, Create a Sense of Belonging 

No matter the workshop, program, or series described below, the goal is to foster a sense of belonging among your members by creating a supportive and inclusive environment. Encourage members to celebrate each other's successes, whether it's reaching a fitness milestone, coming to their first studio book club, or completing a challenging workout. This sense of community will keep your members engaged and motivated to continue their fitness journey with your studio. 

That culture starts with you and your staff, so lean into your teacher's job satisfaction to make sure they're willing to go above and beyond for your clients. Ideally, your members will love and look forward to attending your extra programs and even bring outside friends who will have a better chance of converting into members themselves.

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Programs to Boost Engagement

Educational Workshops and Seminars: Host educational workshops and seminars on topics related to health, fitness, wellness, or - if your clients are interested - beauty, goal achievement, or mindfulness. These can include nutrition seminars, sleep workshops, stress management series, or goal-setting sessions. Not only will these events provide value to your members, but they will also keep them engaged and motivated to grow in other areas of their life, as well. 

I often hear about these workshops failing to fill or get the numbers necessary to make it "worth it" and the reason is usually because your marketing runway is too short. Remember, if you're trying to market to strangers, you need 6-8 weeks before an event, and if you're marketing to your warm clients, you need about four weeks. One newsletter doesn't count. Send multiple emails, post to your stories, announce it in class, put bulletin boards in the bathrooms, and create a sense of urgency or FOMO for your clients by hyping up the workshop all month long. You can find the exact scripts here. 

Some seminars seamlessly roll into ongoing services or maintenance programming. Nutrition coaching is a highly desired service with significant client crossover. Instead of sending clients out for nutrition assistance, bring them in. Studios can build nutrition programs with a certified coach and offer monthly support or check-ins. Not only does it add more value to the client in a one-stop shop, but it also allows you to charge more per person, increasing your average client value without needing to advertise. 

We've seen similar success with wellness coaching, health coaching, and goal achievement offerings, where the client meets with a coach once or twice a month for a pre-specified contract. This also offers more hours for your teachers, who can use their extra certifications in your studio rather than looking for additional hours elsewhere. 

Think Outside Fitness

If you're on a mission to become your clients' "third space"—that not-home-not-work special community resource—then think outside health and fitness for your programming. Consider a book club, monthly hike or adventure group, brunch crew, or personal/ professional development series where clients can connect with like-minded people within the studio and make friends. We had a Sunday farmer's market group that would come to yoga and then walk together to the farmer's market every week. What started as a group of three friends grew to be ten to fifteen regulars, so we turned it into an official studio series with a nutritionist who helped meal plan market meals. Your clients go to your studio for more than exercise, so try to offer well-rounded programming. 

Keep the Community Growing by Incorporating Technology

Embrace technology to enhance the member experience. fitDEGREE offers chat features between clients and between staff members. Clients can invite their friends to class, see what classes their friends are taking, and even participate in the studio group chat. Outside of our platform, you can also use social media platforms to engage with your members, share recipes, ask questions, and promote upcoming events. Rather than treating social media like an algorithm, think of it as a free tool to let your clients in behind the scenes to build trust and community. 

Continuously Evolve and Check-In

The fitness industry is constantly evolving, so try your best to stay ahead of the curve. Keep an eye on industry trends and incorporate them into your programs where appropriate. Whether it's a new fitness trend, technology, or workout equipment, staying current will keep your programs fresh and engaging for your members. That doesn't mean you need to reinvent your studio every time there's a new fad, but you can use the trending language in your marketing and programming to stay relevant. Make sure you're checking in with your clients via survey, email, and face-to-face to make sure you're offering what they're looking for, too. Don't guess what they want; ask them!

By incorporating these additional tips into your member engagement and retention strategy, you can create programs that attract new members and keep existing members engaged and loyal. Remember, member engagement is not a one-time effort; it requires continuous innovation and improvement to keep your members coming back for more.

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About the author:

Niki Riga
Industry Expert
Limitless Studio

Niki has been a client, a studio owner, and a coach in boutique fitness for over a decade, and she can’t think of an industry she'd rather be in. Her favorite part about coaching and studio ownership are the same: she loves supporting clients as they push past their limits and achieve their goals. Niki became a coach because she was regularly asked, “how did you do that!?” by other studio owners who were drowning in the day-to-day responsibilities of business ownership but didn’t have the support to grow their studio to its potential. She created Limitless Studio to partner with owners who have a vision for their business and are ready to implement systems to build the studio of their dreams.