Fitness Student Retention 101: Benchmarking Progress

Fitness studio customer retention - how to keep students coming back

Industry analysts predict that by 2018, over 60 million fitness trackers will be in use—tripling the number of trackers used in 2014.* What does this stat say about the future of fitness? Students want to be able to track their progress as they train. Not only that, but they also want to be rewarded for improvements as well—even if it’s just an app giving them a badge or pat on the back when they burn more calories, perform more reps, or add 15 minutes to their workout.  

This consumer fascination with benchmarking progress is a trend you can capitalize on at your studio to keep students committed to their training—especially students who’ve signed up as part of a New Year’s resolution. We all know that a new fitness routine can be hard to stick to, particularly for novices who aren’t in the habit of exercising regularly. Recording student progress, sharing that progress with individual students on a regular basis, and incentivizing improvements can be a great way to motivate new attendees to stick with their routine, even when they feel like throwing in the towel.

The way you benchmark progress and communicate that progress to students will vary depending on what type of classes your studio offers. Here are some tips for specific types of fitness activities.

  • CrossFit / private gyms: These types of studios will have the most concrete metrics to share with students. You should make sure to track week-over-week improvements in completion times, reps, weights, and types of exercises. In addition to sharing these metrics with your students in person, you may also want to send them a summary email weekly or monthly so they have a personal record of their progress as well.
  • Spin and cycling studios: Stationery bikes provide a wealth of data on student performance. Displaying leaderboards on a TV screen can be a fun competitive motivator for your students during class. Afterwards, you should make sure to tell each student how their workout compared to the previous week and praise positive improvements.
  • Martial arts schools and dojos: Belt testing is a built-in way to benchmark your students’ progress, but you should also provide positive reinforcement to students in class when you see them adopting new and challenging movements. This positive reinforcement will go a long way toward student retention.  
  • Dance studios: Some genres of dance, such as ballet, tap, or ballroom, can use step mastery to benchmark progress. Other types may require more qualitative assessments, focusing on improvements in precision, rhythm and coordination. In-class communication with students in the moment is the most effective way to share this feedback.
  • Barre / core fusion studios: As with dance, barre and core fusion student program tracking will likely be more qualitative than quantitative. This may require a more individualized approach, commenting on specific students’ improvements in flexibility and fitness over time rather than focusing on a data-driven evaluation of progress.
  • Yoga / Pilates studios: For yoga and Pilates, your focus should be more on encouraging meditation within poses rather than benchmarking against physical progress.

The Bottom Line

Showing your students how they’re making progress—and how your studio is contributing to that progress—will motivate them to stick with their training and keep coming back to your studio, boosting your student retention.

To learn even more about retaining new students, check out our Guide.

*Source: VentureBeat

About the Author

Ashley Taylor Anderson

Ashley Taylor Anderson is a content developer and marketer who's spent her career knee-deep in the B2B technology space. In previous professional lives, she worked as a science textbook editor, media producer, and pastry chef.

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