Aloha fellow box owners and coaches.
I hope it’s okay if I geek out a bit. To briefly recap my background for context and relevance, 2008-2012 I was the Program Director at West Coast World Martial Arts, 2012-2014 worked as a Program Coordinator at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM), and then moved to California to be a part of the opening ownership of CrossFit Volition in Milpitas, CA. However, in my time as a business manager in the fitness industry, I noticed a lot of parallels of research that was being being done at the collegiate levels for university retention and fitness gym management. In this blog, I’d like to share three concepts that I invite you to reflect upon your gym.
In this 2009 study conducted by the Office of Academic Affairs at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, researchers analyzed the top reasons why resident and nonresident students dropped from the university. Their results led to many initiatives and program changes, that have since increased the university’s retention rate significantly.
Financial Reasons (Ranked #1)
With the highest margin of admittance, 63% of nonresident students who dropped identified as financial reasons the main reason they dropped out of UHM (2010, OVCA). This number consists of total tuition cost, dorm costs, meals, etc. Consequently, financial rationale of gym membership drops are very common. How many times has a member came to you and said, I got laid off, I got into a car accident, or another excuse that caused them to be unable to budget for their gym membership? How many percentages of drops is this for you? Is this also ranked as #1? How do you address financial drops?
Location (Ranked #2)
According to the study, location is the second reason why students choose to drop out of college. As a box owner and school manager, I also found this to be the case. The commute and comfort of a gym plays a huge role into why a person choses the gym. With CrossFit becoming more and more popular, what is your defining factor? How can you secure the fitness enthusiasts in your local area? What makes you much more marketable than the other gyms that may be closer to their work or home? Time is an investment commodity, much like one’s membership costs. The currency they exchange must yield results and community.
Community (Ranked #7 in study)
Lastly community is another top 10 reason why students drop out of UHM. And as you are well aware community is another reason why people join and retain in CrossFit gyms. There is a higher education theory titled, “The Student Involvement Theory” that states that a person’s attachment and involvement in a campus is strong indicator of their likelihood to retain to that university. This is very true in all CrossFit gyms. The most involved members, those social in classes, active at social gatherings, and that participate on the online facebook groups are never at-risk to drop from your gym. But those who aren’t actively social in class, those who just show up for a workout are more likely to drop and be less invested. It’s here, where you have to spend a good amount of time finding new ways to integrate them into the community.
Overall, what are your thoughts? Why do your gym members leave and what are your best retention strategies? I’d love to learn more about how you do it. Leave a comment below and let's get the discussion started.
Don’t forget, if you’d like to get this weekly content in your inbox subscribe here:
About the Author
Coffee addict. Fitness aficionado. Advocate for all things fun. Joshua Baldovino is the Founder and Co-Owner of Shakas and Snatches. Joshua is passionate about fitness, business, but not as much as he is addicted to ice cream. You can find him on Instagram: @shakajosh_ss.