54 inexpensive, scalable, science-based strategies to drive health club retention
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54 inexpensive, scalable, science-based strategies to drive health club retention

A year-long study has revealed some of the keys to member retention
These include encouraging people to plan their gym visits in advance, offering small incentives and sending text reminders ahead of workouts
Called StepUp Program, the initiative launched in April 2018 and was conducted in partnership between University of Pennsylvania and 24 Hour Fitness
45 per cent of the strategies tested as part of StepUp significantly increased gym check-ins during the programme
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Encouraging people to plan their gym visits in advance, offering small incentives and sending text reminders to members ahead of their workout sessions can help health clubs with their retention issues.

The findings come from a year-long behavioural science study conducted through a partnership between the University of Pennsylvania’s Behavior Change for Good Initiative (BCFG) and budget operator 24 Hour Fitness.

Called the StepUp Program, the initiative launched in April 2018 and was designed to explore what motivates gym-goers, with the goal of identifying tools to create lasting life-changing healthy habits.

BCFG created a 28-day workout rewards programme, which simultaneously tested 54 inexpensive, scalable, science-based strategies aimed at building exercise habits among more than 60,000 24 Hour Fitness club members.

Nearly half (45 per cent) of the strategies tested significantly increased gym check-ins during the programme.

Professor Katherine Milkman, co-director of BCFG, said: “We found that a programme that encouraged people to plan gym visits, offered micro-incentives for exercise, and sent text reminders to people shortly before planned workouts added real value and could be made more potent using a number of insights from behavioural science.

"Our work demonstrates how consumers can take small steps – making daily plans for fitness, bundling their workouts with a favourite podcast or audiobook, and avoiding streaks of missed workouts – to increase their physical activity.”

The findings of the study were published in the scientific journal Nature (to read a summary of the report, detailing the 54 interventions, click here).

The study also outlined some of the ways that people changed their behaviours in order to develop healthier fitness habits.

"For one person, putting out gym clothes the night before works like a charm," the report reads.

"For another, it might be a workout buddy that helps with accountability. For a third person, success might require something completely different."

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Encouraging people to plan their gym visits in advance, offering small incentives and sending text reminders to members ahead of their workout sessions can help health clubs with their retention issues.
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