The Member Connection: Increased Retention through Stronger Relationships
your facility is like most, many members come and go over the course of
the year. As an industry, and specifically as instructors, we have the
opportunity to reverse this trend by striving to make stronger member
refers to the relationship that members have with their facilities and
fellow members. The YMCA of the USA has developed a member connection
model with three levels of increasing connection and deepening
relationship to a member’s facility and community: casual, connected
have the most superficial relationship with their fitness experience.
They swipe their card as they enter the club, take a class or use some
equipment and go home. They do not engage with staff or interact with
other members to any large degree and often see themselves just “using
some space” to work out.
begin to develop relationships with particular attributes of a
facility. They may begin to attend a particular class regularly, form
friendly relationships with a few of their fellow class participants
and begin to exchange small talk with their instructor or other staff
have the deepest relationship with a club. They have internalized their
positive experiences and become ambassadors for their facility,
encouraging family members and friends to join. Working out or
attending your class isn’t just something they make time for; it is a
regular, enjoyable part of their lives.
is in our best interest as instructors to move as many members as we
can across that spectrum from casual to committed members.
From a financial perspective,
attracting a new member costs ten times more than retaining a current
one. Committed members are least likely to terminate their memberships
because they see a value, not just in the equipment they use or the
classes they take, but also in the experience of being a part of the
facility itself. Facilities become more cost-efficient as the number of
committed members increases.
A public health benefit
of having more committed members is the enhancement of the wellness of
each member. A member retained generally translates into a member with
greater exercise adherence and greater improvements in their wellness.
Committed members also bring friends and family members to our
facilities and encourage them to become members, further expanding the
reach of our efforts to improve the wellness of our communities.
committed members often serve as mentors to new members and assist them
with their goals. I often ask experienced riders to assist newcomers
with bike setup (which I double-check). This allows the new member to
have a better experience at their first class and offers them the
opportunity to immediately connect with a fellow rider. Some of these
mentors have gone to become certified instructors themselves, and serve
the facility in their new role as an instructor.
a result of increased retention and the attraction of new members to
the Spinning program, additional classes may be added and more teaching
opportunities will become available. Becky Hanvey, senior director of
health & wellness programs at the Stonestown Family YMCA in San
Francisco, credits member connection efforts with more than doubling
the number of classes in their Spinning program since it began in
members cross our paths every day. As we move them from a casual
relationship with our facility to a deeply committed connection to
their wellness experience we create stronger, healthier riders,
increase class size, enhance the financial success of our facilities,
and build communities where none existed before. As Cassandra Bodlak,
health & fitness director at the Richmond District YMCA in San
Francisco wisely sums it up, “Our success … depends on our ability to
develop appropriate relationships with our community.”
Dries is a STAR 1 Spinning instructor and an ACSM certified
Health-Fitness Instructor. Sean is a freelance personal trainer,
wellness coach, group exercise instructor and stay-at-home father. He
can be reached at www.jackalopefitness.com.