6 Budget-Friendly Ways to Keep Participants Coming Back for More

With an influx of new members and participants in the new year, learn how to keep them around for months and years to come.
min read

New year, new ideas? With the start of a new year, people are looking for new gyms and programs, especially if they received your programs as a gift! It’s easier to get them through the door, but how can you keep them there? Try these six budget-friendly ideas.

Give them a well-rounded tour during their first visit

You may be doing this already, but there are some ways for you to level it up even more!

  • Introduce them to a volunteer member who will take the time to show them where they’re headed and point out helpful places along the way. They can show the new member or participant where the bathrooms are, where to fill their water bottle, and where their class is being held. This is a great way to get member volunteers involved and show people the ropes without taking staff away from the desk.  
  • Join them for a guided warm-up or help set up their class area for them.
  • Record your staff giving brief descriptions of different areas of the gym and have them accessible by QR codes.  
  • Create a scavenger hunt around the space for them to familiarize themselves with the area.  

Show them great customer service and a sense of community

You can do this in a few ways! You may want to consider a call the day before their first class or after their first visit. This is a great way to answer any questions they may have and ease any nerves they're feeling going into a new space.  Think about enlisting your members with this, too! Ask in December for “Member Buddies” to help new members through their first day or first class. You could have them call new members, too, to give an authentic space for them to create relationships among their peers.

You could also consider a sticker or symbol that signifies a first-timer in your space. This helps staff know to give them an extra check-in and helps members better connect.

Take it a final step by calling or emailing them after their visit to see how everything went.

Host an outing for your members

One way to keep them coming back is when they know their friends will be there. Start those connections with an outing to a local restaurant or bar to hang out after a class or day at the gym. This can be a great point of conversation and connection leading up to the event and give everyone a chance to feel like they belong.  

You can also host regular community events or workout challenges! When you do this, it creates a sense of belonging and friendly competition.  

Want to take it outdoors? Organize group activities like hiking, outdoor workouts, or even sporting events and tournaments.

Reward them for showing up

One way to give them credit for showing up is simply by giving them credit for showing up! There are a few ways to hand out well deserved rewards for coming to classes and programs.  

  • Create a punch pass. For every 10 classes they attend, they get one free.
  • Award the three people who attend the most programs a prize at the end of the month, session, season, etc.  
  • Award prizes for completing a January Challenge

Bottom line: People love being a part of something and showing it off! Any gear you’re able to give goes a long way. Think about the water bottle holders at your gym: Could you find a water bottle that fits most machines to award?

Add a little pizazz to the everyday

People love a theme! How can you look at upcoming events and add in a theme or a little pizazz that will really get your participants excited to come in or participate? By adding an easy-to-achieve theme for folks, it gets them engaged with one another, excited to be attending the program, and brings the energy! This could include dressing up or creating rules like no complaining, high five between each set, etc.  

Give them some social media love

We are in a world where the social media philosophy is “pics or it didn’t happen.” A great and simple way to keep engaged with your community is to make sure they feel seen online! When they tag your place on Instagram, be sure to engage with it by liking the post, commenting on it, and sharing it to the gym’s page or story.

At the end of the day, your gym is a special place that cultivates a community for movers and shakers. Finding ways to keep the new members engaged is key to growing the community and helping everyone achieve their goals. Going the extra mile to make them feel welcome can go a long way toward keeping them coming back for the months and years to come.

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November 29, 2023
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