Flexible gym contracts better for retaining members: ukactive report
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Flexible gym contracts better for retaining members: ukactive report

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Flexible gym contracts which don’t require members to commit to a fixed term are actually better for retention than traditional 12-month tie-ins, according to a new report.

ukactive’s mid-year Business Performance Benchmarking Insight Report – based on data from more than 600 UK fitness and leisure sites – has found that enabling health club members to leave whenever they want is actually the best way to keep them.

The report found gyms with a fixed-term minimum 12-month contract saw an average membership length of 11.2 months, whereas gyms not requiring a 12-month commitment and offering more flexible contract lengths saw an average stay of 17.2 months.

The insight helps to neatly demonstrate one of the major shifts witnessed in the health club market over the past decade. Whereas the once dominant big box gyms were often synonymous with iron-clad, fixed term contracts, these operators have lost a significant share of the market to low-cost operators, who typically eschew contracts in favour of rolling monthly memberships.

Jan Spaticchia, CEO of fitness chain énergie Group has been well place to observe this shift. “énergie is in the relatively unique position of having one of its brands in the low cost sector whilst its other two brands are very much mid-market,” he said.

“There is no doubt that the low cost revolution has been a key driver for growth in the sector in recent times and we are seeing a democratisation of fitness where we are beginning to reach a broader cross section of society.”

The new ukactive report – produced in partnership with audit and accountancy firm Mazars – revealed several other findings. It showed that the sector is continuing to grow, with membership numbers up by nearly 1 per cent on this time last year and public trusts performing best – reaping the rewards of a renewed focus on widening their offerings.

Despite this, the report also found that the gap between the public and private areas of the sector still remains, with the average length of membership at 23.5 months for private gyms and 13.2 months at public sites.

“Business Performance Benchmarking is the lifeblood of many developed sectors,” said ukactive executive director Steven Ward.

“We must ensure we continue to analyse our industry data and assess the key trends if we are to keep ahead of the curve.”

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Flexible gym contracts which don’t require members to commit to a fixed term are actually better for retention than traditional 12-month tie-ins, according to a new report.
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