What Is the January Gym Rush – and Why Should You Care?

Dec 3, 2021 - 6 min read
Ready your gym for the January fitness surge

It’s the most exciting time of the year – for gym owners. And no, we’re not talking about the holiday season, but rather the January gym rush. Year after year, resolutions are made and broken in this pivotal month. And, they all revolve around one steadfast intent: to lose weight.

As the new year approaches, people may be focused on shedding the so-called ‘quarantine 15’ that they’ve accumulated over this incredibly strange and stressful year. It is no secret that the side effects of the pandemic are heightened anxiety levels and weight gain.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a study conducted by the journal Obesity shows that 27.5% of people gained weight during the pandemic, with already-overweight people showing further manifestations of weight gain.

As a fitness business, people may be looking to you to help them with their health goals. So, let’s unpack what exactly the phenomenon of the January fitness surge is – and why your gym or studio should be prepared to weed out the fickle-minded new-years resolutionists from members that actually contribute to your businesses’ growth.

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What Is the Phenomenon of the January Gym Rush?

According to IHRSA, 12% of all gym sign-ups happen in January, while the rest of the year accounts for an average of 8.3% of sign-ups . The surge of interest in fitness each January can be attributed to new members looking to put a stop to their rest-of-the-year-long latency.

These members tend to get a bad reputation for being tourists in the gym space and boast low retention rates. But – whatever you may think of them – you have to give them credit for showing up.

These are still paying gym-goers with health and fitness goals like any other – and as a gym owner, instructor, or trainer, it is your responsibility to nurture their sudden interest in fitness rather than isolate them.

Apart from the sales surge for your business, ensuring that these new clients get off on the right foot could also make or break your gym’s membership rates in 2022.

But, Brick and Mortar Facilities Still Face Uncertainty

In places like Germany gyms are shuttered regionally, and in the Netherlands opening hours have been drastically reduced. With the flu season in full swing and new variants spreading, fitness entrepreneurs worldwide have to be prepared for the possibility of tighter regulations.

After almost two years in the pandemic, complete closures are falling out of favor with their immense impact on the (local) economy and people’s mental and physical health.

A great alternative is to offer a hybridized workout routine to attract new members and keep your current ones happy. A dive into the fitness trends for 2022 shows that a mix of digital and on-site membership is the way to go.

People have gotten used to the idea of remote and online fitness coaching – and for our starry-eyed gym new years resolutioners, not much will stop them from setting their fitness goals into motion this January.

By offering a hybridized gym membership solution, you can cover all bases including, workout streaming, holistic health, remote personal training, outdoor fitness, nutrition tracking – and, naturally, the all-important in-facility membership.

Is It Worth It to Focus on These Gym New Years Resolutioners?

Almost 50% of new gym members cancel their memberships by the end of January – and this number is even higher for Yoga studios, where 70% of people who join a yoga studio in January will cancel by the end of February.

With dropout rates like these, you might be wondering whether or not it’s worth it to spend time trying to retain these members. A quick glance at our rather dismal economic outlook will give you your answer: Yes, they are important.

While the idea of going to a gym may not stick with every new member, there’s still a solid 22% of gym new years resolutioners who will see their memberships through until October. That’s worth capitalizing on.

How Can You Focus on Retaining January Sign-Ups?

So, you’ve decided to play ball with these new members who may or may not be standing confoundedly in front of an abductor. Rather than letting nature take its course, try offering new members help from the start.

You could, for example, have a robust onboarding program to win their loyalty. Encourage fresh members to try new things and offer trial classes to spark their interests and confidence in something else other than the treadmill.

By providing guidance and support – and being attentive to new members’ learning curves – you can up those retention rates while leveraging their satisfaction as a lead generating tool.

Going to the gym is becoming more and more a social activity — members are looking to connect with your brand and with each other! By facilitating social connection in your community through your club, gym new years resolutioners will be more motivated to keep at it!

The happier and more comfortable they feel at your gym, the more friends they’ll bring in!

For more information on retaining new members, check out our e-book on membership retention and lead generation .

Help Your Facility Prepare for the January Gym Rush

This year will be different from any other. While the most intuitive way to prepare for the surge of fitness enthusiasm in January would be to look back and past trends , that simply isn’t a viable option anymore.

The wants and needs of gym new years resolutioners have changed, just like they did for your other clients.

To help prepare, you can plan your sales and promotions in advance. This may include selling and tracking coupons, bundles, and membership packages in advance.

You could also mobilize your ground staff to be more attentive to members during this month.

This might mean having more personnel on the clock, but considering this is your make-or-break month, it’s worth investing the extra expense.

Lastly, and most importantly, you really should have a scheduling and booking system in place. Not just because of the January gym rush – but because of the coronavirus.

Most facilities are focusing heavily on cleanliness, airflow, and space between equipment and, therefore, require clients to book time slots in advance to keep gym capacity at a reasonable and healthy level.

When you use a gym software with a scheduling and booking system, you can enable COVID-19 triage questions and control the flow of members in your gym at any given time.

To know more about how an app can better your service – and give you a competitive edge – check out our blog on how to engage with members at home or at the gym.

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Nan de Bruin

Content Marketing Team Lead

Visual storyteller and winter sports enthusiast with 15 years of writing experience in English, Dutch, and Czech. Currently doing reps as the Content Marketing Team Lead at Virtuagym.