New Membership Sales Strategies Clubs Are Using to Reopen

Health clubs around the world are seizing opportunities for new and exciting strategies to regain membership and revenue.

In our recent article, “How Clubs Incentivized Members to Stay During Closures,,” we talked to IHRSA members around the world about the new ideas they put in place to keep their members on board through pandemic-related closures. Next, we asked clubs what new membership sales strategies they planned to implement during a still-uncertain time for club members.

Here are some of the creative ways clubs are increasing sales.

Focus on Community

Companhia Athletica, a high-end health club chain in Brazil, offered live classes, online senior programs, and functional exercise prescriptions during their closure period. These programs were free and extended to their community, which generated a new group of prospects and leads. Those potential new members will be offered a day pass and informed of “new normal” post COVID-19 operations.

“All research shows that coming back to a club or starting to exercise in a gym will be a decision based on trust, so our communication will reinforce that all possible sanitation and prevention procedures are being provided so exercisers will feel very safe and welcome,” says Monica Marques, Companhia Athletica director and IHRSA board member.

Upon reopening, Bodytech Group clubs in Colombia, Peru, and Chile focused on their active members and those who belong to special populations such as seniors, and those with health conditions. Special invitations and open houses will be held to attract new members.

“...We are focusing our campaign on the importance of exercise in people's immune systems. Now the phrase of a healthy mind in a healthy body makes more sense,” says Gigliola Aycardi, executive vice president and co-founder. “People know that exercise is good but now they are more sensitive to this message and see that the practice of physical activity added to a healthy eating plan can make them stronger against viruses, bacteria, and many diseases. It does not mean that they have immunity to everything, but that they are more prepared to overcome them in a better way.”

Focus on Technology

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Megatlon Groups’ 52 locations in Argentina will reopen with a focus on tech innovations, including an online store featuring kits for training at home, and their own streaming platform for content, which they project will position themselves strongly in the future of the fitness industry.

Brent Gallagher, owner of Avenu Fitness & Lifestyle in Houston, TX, is also relying on technology to keep members engaged. He maintains communication with members through regular videos about what’s happening in the club, the feedback they’re getting, and any other information he can share to help create a sense of comfort for members to walk back into Avenu. He invites anyone on the fence about returning to schedule a time to take a tour and see first hand the steps they’ve taken to keep members safe.

In addition, Avenu Fitness is mixing virtual and in-person training at the same time. Combining these sessions together has allowed those who aren’t comfortable to train in-person to mingle with their friends who are back to training at Avenu.

Focus on Referrals

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Pure International Group in China introduced a short-term enhanced referral program where every successful referral gave the member a month added to their membership contract. As they reopened, their clubs have focused on enhancing members’ experience with free sampling of healthy food and drink from the group’s health-conscious food and beverage outlet “nood food,” offers on immunity-building products, and special deals on their Pure Apparel line. They have supplemented in-studio classes with free member-exclusive scheduled Zoom classes to give greater flexibility to members.

Razor Sharp Fitness, with two locations in Wisconsin focused on showing existing members that the clubs’ main priority is taking care of them, instead of reworking membership structures. They recruited members of local clubs that had permanently closed, and though they offered no specials and even increased their fitness consultation fee—they were able to sign up 60 new memberships in the first two weeks and their membership team continues to get phone calls and tours.

There are countless ways clubs have and will continue to attract members. While the current state of the world poses many challenges, it also offers an opportunity for new and exciting strategies that can help clubs regain membership and revenue and even grow their business by helping members stay healthy through the pandemic and beyond.

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Carolynn Jordan

Carolynn Jordan previously served as IHRSA's Member Communication Specialist—a position that developed outreach for IHRSA members to gain knowledge on how to best use their benefits and stay engaged in the IHRSA community.