How Fitness Challenges Boost Member Retention [Free Ebook]

May 28, 2017 - 7 min read
Woman running with Fitness Tracker - Virtuagym

Who said fitness challenges were just for professionals? Keeping members engaged and interested in your services is an ongoing challenge. As a gym owner, it’s vital to keep rethinking ways of engaging your members. One sure-fire way to keep engagement high is by organizing  fitness challenges.

Fitness challenges are an effective tactic to increase engagement and membership retention. Through using mobile apps and wearables, creating challenges has never been easier.

Encouraging them to join competitions is an effective way of engaging with clients. Some universities have even published studies on this, so it must be important! In fact,  one study  thinks it makes fitness ‘more fun, rewarding and more accessible’. After all, who doesn’t like fun and rewards?

Related: Easy member motivation through technology In this article, I’ll provide you with a practical guide on how to maximise your use of gamification. In other words, I’m going to show you how to set up fitness challenges that will keep your members motivated!

Why Create Fitness Challenges?

1. Fitness Challenges Provide a Fun Environment for Your Members

Having your members hit the gym more than once a week can be a challenge in itself. Usually, getting sweaty in the gym isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when they have free time. But it’s time to change that!

It is crucial that you offer a place where people want to go. Being part of a supportive community makes people eager to do better.

Gym challenges can create new friendships, as members work together to achieve a goal. You can bring your community online with a  mobile club app  to share updates and maintain a weekly leader board. Encouraging members to share progress on social media is great exposure for your gym.

2. Fitness Challenges Can Improve Your Online Visibility

Creating a fun and supportive online environment can improve membership retention. If your members feel like they’re part of a team, they’ll keep coming back. If they keep coming back, they’ll be more inclined to join in with your online challenges.

Social media can help get your name into the faces of potential new clients. Location tagging features can help identify where your challenges take place. If it’s easy to see where your challenges are, it’s easy to see where you operate. The closer you are to them, the more inclined a potential new member will be to visit.

3. Fitness Challenges Keep Your Clients Motivated

Reaching a fitness goal such as losing weight isn’t easy for most of us. If our goal is simple to track, and fun (yes, fun!) won’t we be more interested in working towards it?

With the use of competitive elements, you can motivate your clients into action. Why not break down a big challenge, and reward your clients on the way? Do they want to lose 10kg? Set up mini challenges for each kg, so achieving a goal never seems too far away.

Members will be able to count on you and the community you’ve created for support and motivation. When given the tools to keep track and visualize their progress, goals will always be in reach.

Finally, challenges can be a great way to introduce clients to a healthy lifestyle. Healthy gym-goers are always happy gym-goers, isn’t that what fitness is for? In need of tips? Check out this article for more tips on how to motivate your clients .

Create Fitness Challenges for All Your Client Segments

Segmenting your client base is key to being able to create suitable challenges. It’s pretty unlikely that the group of mums attending your morning Yoga classes would sign up for a push-up challenge (but hey, who knows?). But they may join a nutrition photo contest which rewards original healthy recipes.

In simple terms, segmenting your audience means getting to know them. And if you know your client base, you know how to target them.

Social platforms are a great tool to engage with and encourage your younger clients. After all, a staggering 99% of young people  in the UK use social media every week. If a chunk of your clients are all using social media, why shouldn’t you? For older and less tech-savvy members, be sure to use offline materials for promotion too. Posters and flyers are great ways of spreading the news about your latest challenge.  Although they aren’t online, this member segment is as important as any other.

In the table below, you can find examples of fitness challenges based on some common segments:

Fitness fanaticsPush-ups challenge; abs challenge; bigger chest challenge
WomenWater challenge; steps challenge; 5K challenge; beach body challenge
YoungMy healthy summer contest; “30 days”-type challenges
KidsFruit challenge; obstacle run (safety first!); jumping jacks challenge

How to Set up a Fitness Challenge

The golden rule when setting up a fitness challenge is: **keep it simple!**The process to sign up, as well as the rules of the fitness challenge, should be simple and easy to understand. The rewards system should be clear so participants know exactly what they’re working for.

Providing the right tools to keep track of progress is essential, both for you and for your client. A visual aid can be a great way for members to see how far they have come.

Most wearables and fitness apps make it easy to share individual progress online. Coupled with our best friend social media, the potential audience is huge.  The best thing? You don’t have to do anything, it’s free publicity!

Group challenges are a little more complex to set up and to control as they involve a mixed group of clients. With a variety of goals, ability levels and experience, group challenges need nurturing. Activity trackers, along with a mobile club app, can help measure results and dish out rewards.

Don’t forget, keep it simple and keep it fun! For more information on setting up a fitness challenge, download our Ebook down below!

A Practical Example of Fitness Challenges

Anna’s commuting to work when she receives a notification of the challenge on her smartphone. Feeling competitive, she forwards it to her gym buddy Karen. They both join the challenge.

They both set their daily goals and start walking home after the gym instead of taking the bus.

As the competition between them heats up, they post to social media. Karen proves she’s not cheating by posting a selfie in the gym. Meanwhile Anna posts her daily walking route to and from work.

They both check the rankings each week and share their standings online.

At the end of the month, the gym reveals the winner, and with it their prize. (Keeping prizes interesting is also pretty important, who wants to win a pair of socks?)

Karen wins and shares her triumph on her social pages, much to the delight of the gym. Remember, free advertising is always a bonus.

But the most important result for the gym? A happy client, and social media channels filled with mentions of their challenge. And who knows what that will bring? A few visits from potential clients? A viral post of your clients transformation (complete with your branding)? New sign ups?

The possibilities are as limited as your imagination (but nothing too wild!). For more ideas, have a look at our infographic down below!

Putting Things Together

Activities that are entertaining and competitive are a recipe for happy clients. It’s important never to let this idea slip: challenges should be fun. If it’s not fun, it’s not going to engage anyone but the most hardcore fitness fanatics.

So now what?

By now you have realized the value of fitness challenges. All that’s left to do is create and integrate your own to your business!

Easier said than done, right? Fear not, we’re here with a step-by-step Ebook to help you along the way. First, click that button below.

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Hi, my name is Veronica and I am Head of International markets at Virtuagym. It’s my job to maintain and nurture the relationship with our clients and to help fitness professionals successfully manage their business. My biggest passions are travelling, reading and history.