Beyond Programming: The Member Experience Imperative

By Aaron Eisberg

Fitness businesses often think in terms of the programs they offer. However, in a recent article for Club Solutions, fitness industry expert Ben Ludwig makes the case for thinking in terms of the member experience instead. Here’s a closer look at his argument for doing so, along with tips for creating unique and compelling experiences for your fitness business members.

Why the Member Experience Matters

Ludwig begins the article by recounting the struggle of one gym he worked with: Despite having the “right” programs and marketing in place, the business was falling short of its desired results. The diagnosis, according to Ludwig? The approach failed to factor in a key consideration: how the gym was making its members feel. 

According to Ludwig, focusing on introducing new programs is just about selling more things to members in order to increase profits. However, without the member experience guiding the way, these programs may not succeed -- especially given the steep competition out there. Ludwig proposes that every new program you introduce must be informed by how it will tie to your brand and strengthen your bond with members, which is the ultimate member retention initiative. 

Ludwig also reminds us that running a successful fitness business is a “long game, not a sprint.” He cautions, “Increased revenue within 90 days, more leads coming through the follow-up software, marketing material getting more hits, or even worse, meeting the KPIs you set for the program launch, can all be false positives. Though none of these things are bad, they are not the sustainable life we all want out of a program.”

Which begs the question: What is the “sustainable life we all want out of a program"? According to Ludwig, success comes when you transform members into “raving fans and program enthusiasts.” In doing so, you not only build loyalty, but you send them out into the world as ambassadors and unofficial salespeople. 

Three Tips for Maximizing the Member Experience

The good news? There are many ways to create a positive member experience, including the following three tips: 

1.  Lead with your brand

What is your mission, who is your target audience, and how can your programs, products, and services deliver on both to members and prospective members? While the specifics may change, these core beliefs should remain consistent even as your business grows and evolves. 

2. Build relationships...and retention

Building a solid base of customers and keeping them engaged is one of the most cost-effective ways for fitness businesses to succeed. Elements like group exercise classes and programs; a comprehensive onboarding program for new members; friendly staff, and a user-friendly website and social media can all help drive retention by adding value. 

Person getting ready to run a race.

3. Harness the power of technology

Technology is an unavoidable aspect of modern life. When integrated into the fitness environment,  it’s not only expected by members, but it helps them reach their full potential. There’s a reason why wearables consistently top the list of fitness business trends. In allowing members to track their activity, progress, and outcomes, they help them reach their full potential.

Sure, health clubs and gyms are places for people to work out, but they also have the potential to be much more than that. In today’s competitive fitness business landscape, unlocking that potential by prioritizing the member experience can offer a vital inside edge.  Fitness monitoring technology offers an invaluable partnership for gyms and their members.  Download the catalog today to learn more about the many member experience-boosting benefits of the cutting-edge AccuroFit System. 

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