Let’s set the scene. You opened a gym (very nice) and people joined (excellent). Those were two HUGE achievements, and as you look out over your bustling business you may be wondering, “How can I make sure they keep coming back?”

It’s a crucial question to constantly consider and act upon, and an obvious answer to it is this: you must provide excellent customer service. No, wait, let’s fix that: you must consistently provide excellent customer service. Perhaps you’re unsure how to approach this, or you may have a small (or constantly changing) team. Not to worry, we’ve got some ideas to help you, no matter what challenges you face.

There are approximately 900 gyms and fitness centres in New Zealand in 2024, so you’re facing fierce competition. You need to stand out and offer the kind of consistently high service that inspires loyalty in your members. Not only will this keep them coming back, but they’re more likely to sing your praises to others (ooh, word-of-mouth advertising… the ultimate).

So how do you do more with less? How do you overcome high operating costs, frequent staff turnover and the current cost-of-living crisis, and still deliver a stellar member experience? Read on for some small, practical ways to wow your members (even with a teeny-weeny team).

Powering exceptional experiences

The right partner will help you deliver stand out service and build memorable experiences. All with less heavy lifting for you and your team. A gym software partner like Xplor Gym.

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1. Manage expectations from the get-go

The member experience begins from day 1, before you’ve even signed them up. What will the journey look like for them? What impression is your gym marketing and sales approach giving prospects?

It can be easy to over-promise in your sales and marketing process, but if the member experience doesn’t live up to the expectations you’ve built up it’s going to be awkwaaaard (and costly for you when they leave).

Regularly review your sales approach and provide training where needed to improve it. Make sure everything that’s said by you and your staff reflects reality (but in an appealing, exciting way as much as possible).

Cast a critical eye over your marketing messaging: how you talk about your club, staff, equipment, classes, vision – everything. Yes, your marketing can be catchy, enticing, amusing, irresistible, but it should all be grounded in reality. Be ready and able to back any claims you make about the results members could achieve. People can get annoyed (and sometimes litigious) about this stuff.

Be sure to send the right message by using appropriate images. Ideally, you’ll have photographs from your own business. And if you’re using stock photography, stick to images that reflect your facilities and your target members.

Young woman holding a mug and using smartphone at home

2. Take the pain out of joining your gym

Save the pain for those gruelling workouts, please. Your new members should finish joining up with only a sense of gain (and anticipation).

Ensure asmooth online joining experience  by utilising online joining tech from your gym software partner. You need tech that integrates with your website, reflects your branding, and clearly showcases your membership options and packages. So, prospects can choose the right option for their needs – fast.

While signing up, new members should be able to easily opt into bolt-ons, creating a more personalised experience from the beginning while also earning you extra recurring revenue. Win-win!

The online joining solution available should allow you to capture details of prospects who abandon their membership mid-sign-up (aka, ‘it looks like you left something in your cart’). So, you can target and encourage these potential new members to finish joining.

Senior woman working out with her physiotherapist

3. Nail new member onboarding

Our recent attrition research revealed that gym members who experience a gym induction keep visiting and using their membership for 4+ months longer than those who weren’t inducted. Of course, this relies on a useful and memorable induction, but this kind of personalised service can set new members up for success.

So what if you went beyond a simple induction for new members…?

Extend your new gym member onboarding journey to cover key touchpoints over the course of their first 90+ days with you. That way, you’ll engage and motivate your new members to keep showing up.

Did you know that automation is essential to creating a personalised onboarding journey that guides new members to success? Use the messaging and gym marketing software features within your gym software to send the right message at the right time.

“Send the right message, at the right time, to the right person to generate that return visit, which is essentially what we’re looking to achieve from any form of communication.”

Julie Allen, Active Insight

4. Do less: Automate more

Automation isn’t just handy for the onboarding process. Reserve your valuable time for more important things by using your software to deal with communications and marketing. You can create a personalised experience throughout a member’s lifetime with your gym by having communications automatically delivered at key points in their journey.

For example, if a member hasn’t visited recently, set up a triggered campaign to send an email letting them know you miss them and encouraging them to pop in.

You can also boost the member experience by sending gym marketing emails that are targeted towards each member and personalised using your software.

For example, if a member normally books classes, send them a personalised email about a relevant new class you’re launching.

Need inspiration? Get the ultimate gym email marketing guide. It’s packed with ideas for campaigns and messages you need to be sending. The free guide even includes 16 gym email templates that you can use and adapt.

5. Encourage members to gossip about you

Well, about the awesome experience they’ve had as a member of your gym!

Did you know that 88% of people trust recommendations from people they know more than any other type of advertising? And 77% are more likely to buy if they’ve received advice from someone they know? Yup, we said it earlier, word-of-mouth is the ultimate marketing tool.

BUT it’s hard to get, so you have to put the work in. A gym member referral programme is the perfect way to attract new members and reward existing ones.

A refer-a-friend programme takes advantage of the power of word-of-mouth marketing as you can lean on happy members to encourage their friends and family to join.

Typically, you’ll incentivise both your existing and new members to take part. For example, with a discount or other perk when the referred new member joins your club. Use your gym management software to run your referral programme and track any referrals made.

Added perks like this can really delight members. It boosts your gym member experience with minimal effort from you and your team.

Create a referral programme that turns members into advocates


Find out how to set up a successful refer-a-friend programme that wins you new members.

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Concept of Weight Loss. Plus Size Woman in Sportswear Doing Weight Exercises With Assistance of Her Personal Trainer at Gym With Modern Fitness Equipment for Fitness

6. Power up your personal trainers

It’s not only tech and automation that can wow your members. In fact, those are background elements that probably won’t be as obvious to people.

A powerful way to boost the member experience is right in front of them every day. Your PT team! We know that the social and community aspects of going to the gym are a huge drawcard for many, so your team have a pivotal role in ensuring people want to return again and again.

There are many different ways to work with PTs, and the exact model you choose will depend on the needs of your business.

Think beyond getting your PTs to do outreach to attract new clients and keeping your equipment clean. Utilise their skills to support and add more value to your members. For example, you could have your PTs:

  • Run weight management seminars
  • Provide inductions and follow-up consultations
  • Teach chargeable small group PT
  • Interact with members identified as high-risk

However, to avoid staff churn and keep them upbeat and providing the best service, make sure what you are offering PTs is attractive for them as well. You’ll know how many hours of gym floor support you have from your PT team so be sure to make the most of this time.

Diverse group of young adults doing squats in unison during a fitness class

7. Groups who exercise together, stay together

Or, more accurately, group exercisers who visit a club at least once a week are 20% more likely to be loyal members than those who visit 3 times a week (but not for group exercising), according to research. Again, there’s that essential social and community aspect at play.

Building a regular timetable of group fitness classes is another great way to boost the gym member experience. When designing your timetable, think about what you and your members are going to get out of it.

Your classes need to live up to member expectations and reflect the quality of your overall member experience. Invest in class formats that will appeal to your target audience of members and find instructors who’ll motivate members to attend regularly.

When done well, group fitness classes will elevate your member experience, leading to loyal members who stick with your club for longer.

Men, credit card machine or payment in gym membership, personal trainer access or fitness coaching subscription. Banking device, nfc or cashless transaction or happy, smile or training sports athlete

8. Perfect the payment process

Nobody wants to be reminded of money leaving their account, even if it’s for something enjoyable or worthwhile. Your membership payment experience should be so smooth and hassle-free that your members hardly even notice it.

It’s essential that you can automatically collect membership fees each month. Payment information should be available in your gym management software in real-time, and always up-to-date and accurate.

By choosing software with embedded payments, you’ll be able to automate access based on the latest payment statuses. No confusion – just streamlined access. And if a missed payment occurs, your software should let you automatically notify the member. In short, you personally should not have to chase payments.

Managing payments can be time-consuming, so look for a partner with proven processes and a contact centre team. It will be easier for members who’ve missed a payment to get back in your club fast.

Relying on a partner to manage membership payments for you will free you and your team to focus on engaging members. And you’ll know your members are getting excellent service to help with payment queries.

“We needed an all-in-one solution that could handle all the member billing for us now and in the future, as well as general member management and marketing.

We would spend hours a day reconciling and manually processing payments. Our collection rates needed to be better.

We needed a system that would automate these processes and improve efficiency and collection success.”

Mike Garner, Director of Evolution Fitness XL

Health and fitness: One mature woman in an exercise studio

The wrap up…

You know how to get the members, but can you hold onto the members? Member retention relies heavily on members having an excellent experience, which you can deliver even if you have a small (or constantly changing) team.

By ensuring a clear, honest, and compelling message right from the beginning; making sign-up simple, onboarding an ongoing delight, and payments painless; and using your PT team and group classes to boost engagement, you can give your members a consistently awesome member experience.

Many small changes will lead to a big impact over time!

The Xplor Gym team is here to help you boost your gym member experience. And we’d love to have a chat and see what we can do for your business. Get in touch now.

Article by Xplor Gym

First published: 29 April 2024

Last updated: 02 May 2024