January is here, which means one thing… lots of new members in your gym!
As always, the challenge is to quickly engage those new members, helping them create new fitness habits in the first few months to ensure they stick with their New Year’s Resolutions and remain loyal, active members for months and years to come.
But where to start?
The power of group exercise
Group exercise is one logical option, with its role in engaging and retaining members well documented – for example, the TRP study led by Dr Melvyn Hillsdon which found that, over the space of seven months, the risk of cancelling was 56% higher in gym-only members compared to group exercisers.
So, is GX the best way to get new members hooked?
It’s certainly one of the key tools at our disposal…. but there’s a challenge when it comes to new members. While logically the studio – with all the support and motivation provided by GX instructors – should be an easier starting point than the weights and machines of the gym, for many people it can be an intimidating place. The regulars who ooze confidence, standing in the front row of ‘their’ class, in ‘their’ place.
It can be hard to get past these barriers to even begin to feel part of the community that will ultimately bond you to that class, and with it the club.
Step forward virtual group exercise
Studies show that regular virtual class attendance helps build newer members’ confidence to the point that they feel ready to walk into a popular, busy, instructor-led class. Indeed, in Wexer’s Global Survey 2016, 32% of virtual users said they had used a virtual class to prepare for the live version of that same class.
So, aside from the usual in-club marketing and promotion, how do you specifically encourage a new member to try a virtual class?
Step 1: Put yourself in that new member’s shoes
Think how it might be for them on day one. Walk into the studio with them, show them what a safe and comfortable place it can be. Introduce them to a virtual class and let them know there’ll be no-one noticing they’re the new person: just them and a group of like-minded members enjoying an excellently taught, easy-to-follow class up on the big screen.
Step 2: Walk them through the process
Show the new member the virtual fitness schedule alongside your live instructor one. Show them how to pick their own on-demand classes and recommend the best classes. Talk to them about the ease of transition from virtual to live instructor – the fact that, in no time at all, virtual classes will ensure they know exactly what they’re doing.
With the knowledge you have of your virtual classes, you will make great recommendations. With your guidance, their confidence will grow. Using your time wisely at the beginning of their journey will be time very well spent.
Virtual as an entry point
In the end, people like to be part of something – part of a group or a team. Ensuring your members are part of the group exercise community at your club will keep them coming back time and time again. They’re more likely to keep up with their exercise regime and have the potential to become one of your greatest advocates, as long as you give them that chance in the first place. Virtual fitness training can be the entry point to this.