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Group Exercise Tied to Higher Member Retention

Health club members who participate in group exercise are more likely to retain their membership than those who only use gym equipment, according to a The Retention People (TRP) study.

For the study, researchers analyzed survey results from 10,000 UK health and fitness members and followed up with them at regular intervals to measure changes to their habits and membership behavior. They found that 48% percent of members reported just one activity as the usual reason for a club visit, 32% reported two and, 20% reported three or more.

Attending for a gym workout only was reported by 40% of members, with nearly a fifth of members reporting a combination of gym and class. Just 13% of members reported visiting their clubs for a class only, with 57% of class-goers also reporting they visit the gym.  

To best study the effect on group exercise on member retention, TRP honed in on two groups: 1) those who report using the gym only and 2) those who report their usual reason for attending is group exercise alone or in combination with another activity.

Their findings showed: 

  • Women more frequently reported group exercise than men, and the reverse was true for gym workouts.
  • Gym-only members tended to be younger, while the proportion of members reporting group exercise increased with age.
  • Longer-term members were less likely to report gym-only and more likely to report group exercise compared to new members.
  • Members who have belonged to multiple clubs are more likely to report only working out in the gym compared to members for whom this is their first ever club.
  • There is very little difference in visit frequency between the two types of members. 

Ultimately, the report found that 88% of group exercise members retained their membership during the duration of the study, compared to 82% of gym-only members. The risk of cancelling was 56% higher in gym-only members compared to group exercisers.

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