How to Avoid Cancellations in your Fitness Studio?

Jan 11, 2024 - 6 min read
A joyful woman holding a rolled-up yoga mat on her shoulder. (How to Avoid Cancellations in your Fitness Studio?)

A survey by Sundried found that 95% of New Year’s resolutions are about getting fit. But, another study revealed that 80% of people who buy gym memberships in January stop going within five months.

For you, as a fitness studio owner, this could mean losing a lot of money in the second half of the year.

Here’s something to consider: the average gym membership in the U.S. is $50 a month so if a member stops coming, by December, that’s $350 you’ve missed out on for each person.

These statistics show a common trend in the fitness industry: people start the year with fitness goals but often don’t stick to them as the year progresses.

This is a challenge many gym owners face, seeing enthusiastic sign-ups in January only to witness a decline later.

However, with the right strategies in place, your fitness studio doesn’t have to face a slump at any time of the year. Let’s explore how you can avoid cancellations in your fitness studio.

Set Up a Simple Cancellation Policy

When you get a new client, it’s important to explain your cancellation policy right away.

Make sure they understand this isn’t about making decisions on the spot when a cancellation happens. It’s about following a policy they know and have agreed to.

When you first meet, take the time to go over this policy with them, explain what it means, and how it works.

Let them ask any questions they have before they sign off on it.

Identify the Early Year Drop-Off

According to a report by Foursquare, every year, there’s a day called “Fall Off the Wagon Day” for people who go to the gym.

The study saw that right after New Year’s Day, more people went to the gym (up by 6%) and fewer people went to fast food places (down by 4.6%).

But as time went on, people started going to the gym less and eating fast food more. These two things met on February 9th, just 40 days after New Year’s. That’s when a lot of people stopped following their fitness goals.

This means it’s a good idea to focus on keeping your fitness studio members interested and motivated right from the get-go.

You could even make “Fall Off the Wagon Day” a fun event at your studio. This could help make clients aware of this trend and encourage them to keep up with their fitness routines.

Welcome New Members with Group Fitness Classes

A diverse group of people celebrating with raised hands in a park, possibly during a group fitness class or event.

When new clients sign up, it’s a great opportunity to introduce them to group fitness classes.

When people feel they are part of a group and have friends with similar goals, they’re more likely to keep coming and stay on track with their workouts.

In a group setting, people also tend to feel less shy or worried about trying new exercises. They get encouragement and tips from both their classmates and the instructor.

Instead of repeating the same exercises, make sure that these classes bring in new moves, exciting music, and styles that keep things interesting.

Whether it’s yoga, cycling, strength training, or dance, you could tailor a class for every taste and fitness level.

Having a fitness trainer for these classes is also helpful. They help build a good relationship between the new members and the personal trainer. This can make new members want to keep coming back.

Try a Monthly Subscription Plan

A monthly subscription can help you offset the costs of cancellations. The way it works is: that clients pay a set amount every month, like $80, and this gives them a certain number of classes each week, say two.

If your usual price for a class is around $15, they’re getting a good deal because, with the subscription, each class costs them about $9.

The key part of this plan is that if they don’t use their classes in a week, those classes don’t carry over to the next week.

They just miss out. This might seem a bit strict, but it actually helps your clients.

For example, if they stick to the plan, they’ll be paying less over the year compared to paying for each class separately.

They save money, and they also encourage members to keep coming to your classes regularly.

Charge a Small Fee for Missing Appointments

If you have personal training clients who are often a no-show, it’s important to charge them a fee for late cancellations.

The fee doesn’t have to be big. Just a small amount can make people more serious about keeping their appointments.

It’s not about punishing them; it’s about making sure you’re not only valuing your time but also reminding your paying members of their commitment to their health.

Send Friendly Reminders

We all get busy and can forget things like gym appointments. Help your clients out by sending them reminders.

You can do this through emails, WhatsApp, or calls – whatever works best for them. Some people prefer a quick text, while others might like a personal call.

These reminders are particularly helpful in reducing the number of no-shows, as they keep gym appointments top of mind for your clients.

Talk About Why They Cancel

When cancellations become a pattern, it’s important to understand why. Have a conversation with your clients to find out the reasons behind their cancellations.

This insight is invaluable. It allows you to implement engagement strategies to better meet their needs, potentially reducing future cancellations.

Remember, communication is a two-way street. By showing that you’re willing to adapt and listen, you strengthen the client-trainer relationship, which can lead to more consistent attendance.

Use a Retention Planner Tool

The Retention Planner Tool is a special feature from Virtuagym that helps fitness professionals keep their fitness clients.

This tool looks closely at what your fitness studio members do, like how often they come to classes or check in at the studio. It tracks all this stuff to see how each person acts over time.

If someone starts coming less, the tool will let you know. This is a sign that they might be thinking of leaving.

What’s unique about this tool is that it uses AI — which means it can make smart guesses about what your members might do in the future.

It looks at how they’re acting now to predict if they’ll keep coming to your gym. This is super helpful because it lets you spot problems before they get big.

Conclusion

In the first days of the new year, your fitness business may see a boost with many new clients joining the studio.

However, a key part of your role is retaining them for the long haul, as it’s generally easier to retain existing members than to attract new ones.

To avoid cancellations, having effective strategies is a must. While you can’t control cancellations due to reasons out of your control, you can certainly influence those leaving due to a lack of motivation or dissatisfaction with their workouts or the studio environment.

This is where your personal trainers play an important role. Their expertise and guidance can significantly enhance member satisfaction and engagement, thereby helping to sustain your fitness business.

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Nan de Bruin

Visual storyteller and winter sports enthusiast with over 15 years of writing experience in English, Dutch, and Czech. Currently doing reps as the Senior Digital Marketing Specialist at Virtuagym.