Motivating those who have gone awry
Wed, April 16, 2014 at 15:26
Brad Spiegel in Dakotah, El Gancho, Karen Lankford, New Year's Resolutions, News, Tad Dunsworth, attrition, new members

The first quarter of the year is over and for many companies it is time to hit the books and spreadsheets to figure out the upcoming fiscal year’s budget. 

While that is true in the fitness industry, too, it is also the time to look at what happened at the start of the quarter. Specifically, this is about the time that all of those who joined the club at the start of the year, as well as those who made New Year’s resolutions to hit certain goals and to change their lifestyle, might be falling off the wagon.

Many clubs keep a keen eye on these two groups to make sure they don’t slip. Sometimes programs specifically re-motivating members are instituted, other times a health club is diligent on how members are faring and intervene  before they lose them.

Often it has nothing to do with the club but a long winter, which many go through every year.

“Exercise is the ultimate mood booster,” said Joe Moore, IHRSA president and CEO, in an IHRSA media release on tips to reinvigorate New Year’s resolutions. “And the harder you struggle with the winter doldrums, the more important it is for you to push yourself to get up and be active every day. So get out of the cold, join a gym, and get moving. You’ll be inspired by how good it makes you feel.”

El Gancho Fitness, Swim & Racquet Club in Santa Fe, N.M. – which, for those who are not aware, suffer through winter doldrums with snow and cold weather – has a few unique programs specifically geared toward those who are not keeping up with their December and January intentions. It is often referred to ast Second Quarter Resolution Resuscitation. 

The first two are ones they have used for many years, but often tweaking them in order to not be predictable and lose interest among members. 

With Santa Fe boasting a very outdoorsy community, El Gancho will use one of the many events as a “carrot” to get members ready for it. This year the Santa Fe Century, a 100-mile bike ride throughout the county, (participants can ride 25, 50 or 100 miles) is in May, so there are six cycling classes in February, March and April to help members prepare. Many put the Century on their bucket list or New Year’s resolutions as a high percentage in the area are avid bike riders.

The second way El Gancho sparks a fire under those who have slowed down since the beginning of the year is with tips and articles on how to get back on track, different ways to look at goals, how not to fall behind, and more, in its fitness newsletter. 

This year new equipment was purchased at El Gancho. Since it couldn’t get to the facility by New Year’s, the club decided to use it as incentives for members.

“We knew we could keep people going if we built anticipation (of new equipment),” said Karen Lankford, El Gancho front office manager and Member coordinator. “We hope to keep them motivated to stick around for the new equipment and get them really engaged right before our summer peak.”

Another club has found that someone else is doing a lot of the work for them. Tad Dunsworth, director at Dakotah Sport and Fitness in prior Lake, Minn., said that more and more insurance companies in the area are offering incentives based on the number of visits a members makes to the club. 

“With most of the insurance companies now reimbursing for a health club membership, (members) need to come in 8-12 times per month. That has become a very large monetary incentive,” Dunsworth explained. “I think this has had the biggest impact on the retention of this annual population. Our attrition rate is historically in the mid 20% range. The last few years we have dropped this to the low 20’s and currently we are tracking at 15%.”

For those who are still not incentivized enough, Dakotah has two other methods that have contributed to the low attrition rate. 

With the spring and summer sports seasons so close to April, the club offers many classes for youth, like sports conditioning for kids, fundamentals of strength training and group exercise classes. There is plenty of thought put behind it.

“When parents see their young teenager come in, the parent can come with them and get their workout in,” said Dunsworth. “It’s a conscious effort that if we get the kids involved then the parents maintain their membership.”

They also follow up with members a few months after they come in and get a physical assessment to make sure they haven’t strayed. 

Some other ways a club can keep a member motivated during possible lulls include:

1. Supportive, knowledgeable, and trained professionals make it easier for people of all ages and fitness levels to build a well-balanced and enjoyable exercise routine.

2. State-of-the-art exercise equipment, a variety of classes, personal trainers, and professional instructors all ensure a wide selection of exercise options to suit each individual’s evolving interests and needs.

3. Fellow club members offer camaraderie and encouragement.

4. Health clubs offer a warm, safe, dry, motivational place to exercise, regardless of the weather or time of day.

For more on tips to reinvigorate members, visit the IHRSA Media Center. If your club has an original idea, let us know.


Article originally appeared on IHRSA (
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