Mastering the Seasons: How Independent Gyms Can Use Gym Membership Management Software To Combat Seasonal Member Fluctuation

Mastering the Seasons: How Independent Gyms Can Use Gym Membership Management Software To Combat Seasonal Member Fluctuation

Whether it is the dubious strive to get ‘beach-body ready’ that heralds the end of Spring and the beginning of Summer or the influx of membership at New Year as people try to mitigate the effects of Christmas and Winter, the fitness industry is very familiar with the highly seasonal nature of gym membership and fitness motivation. 

And while the seasons and how people react to them are nothing new, the tools we have to monitor these trends are growing ever-more sophisticated and accessible for independent gym owners. So today we will be looking at both seasonal trends within the fitness industry and how powerful tools such as gym membership management software and their data outputs can be used to grapple with and mitigate these influxes. 

Summer might always follow Spring, but if data can show independent gym and fitness club owners and management just ‘how’ and ‘why’ it affects their members they will be in a much better position for the next year. 

And ultimately that is what we are trying to address today. How to quantify a seasonal problem for the fitness industry and independent gyms into a yearly opportunity. 

The seasons and their respective trends may feel inevitable and insurmountable to some but it is their reliability that can be capitalised upon by prudent and forward-thinking independent gym and fitness club owners. 

So today our focus will be on how gym owners can take steps to ‘master’ the seasonal influx and make the most out of the ebbs and flows, as well as the seasonal surge. 

What will we cover in this article?

(you can also click to skip ahead!)

Learn the strategies for Tackling Gym Seasonality

What is Seasonality in the context of independent Gyms and why does it exist?

 

Methods and Techniques that independent gyms and fitness clubs can use to compensate and utilise Gym Member Seasonality

What independent gym and fitness club owners should be careful of regarding seasonality

Strategies For Tackling Gym Seasonality

The ‘seasonality’ of gyms can be a double-edged sword. Looked at through the wrong lens, it can be a yearly open-wound. We have heard endless stories of frustration as the influx of members from January and February drop off, followed by another as Summer shifts to Autumn.

But there are, of course, two sides to this. Many industries would kill for a period where there was a mass-influx of customers. And this is how independent gym and fitness club owners must conceptualise these ‘influx’ periods, not as a demoralising inconvenience, but an opportunity to be harnessed. 

We are not saying that it is possible to hold back the tides, of course. Attrition will always occur, but it is about mitigating that attrition and making the most out of the yearly influx of members. Our goal here is to use tried and tested methods and data to mitigate the worst of the attrition and retain as much of the seasonal influx as possible. 

Of course not every independent gym will have a significant seasonal influx for every season, and some independent gyms may have seasonal peaks that are based on factors unique to the area. A common example of this is that an independent gym will be based in an area with a significant student population, meaning that the period between September and May will see the population significantly expand and the demographics will change.

As such, while our examples will focus on the ‘general’ patterns governed by the changing of the calendar seasons, there are many bespoke examples of seasonal influxes and fluctuations that independent gym and fitness club owners can apply these methods towards. 

This guide provides 5 proven strategies to help weather the storm and improve gym retention and profitability.

What Is Seasonality in the context of independent gyms and why does it exist?

The seasonal influx of gym members around the end of winter/beginning of Spring and then Summertime is a cyclical phenomena that occurs due to how the seasons change the priorities of a portion of the population. 

The shift between ‘Winter’ and ‘Spring’, most visible in the public eye with the ‘New Year’s Resolution Rush’ normally focuses on mitigating and combating the weight-gain, fatigue and low-spirits of the winter months. 

With the rise of obesity statistics and consumerist Christmas trends, the New Year Resolution Rush has become an increasingly reliable phenomena for many independent gyms and fitness clubs.

However, these members generally have a fairly short average membership lifetime, with either low morale or easily achieved goals, these members often peel off as quickly as they arrived with many independent gyms finding that the majority are no longer attending by March or even February!

Meanwhile the Summer trend is a little broader and harder to pinpoint, given that it can not only take effect in preparation for Summer, but also that this ‘holiday’ period covers over three months, from around June to early September.

As such, the ‘Summer seasonality’ represents a significant portion of the year for independent gyms and fitness clubs. 

The rationale behind the Summer rush is unsurprising. It usually revolves around losing any excess weight gathered over the Winter and held during the Spring, as well as getting back into shape in time for a beach holiday. If there was any doubt as to the power of this pull, survey respondents have frequently said they are more likely to workout for a holiday than their own wedding! 

As such, this predictable and undeniable cycle presents a challenge for independent gyms to overcome and a great potential for opportunity.

Methods and Techniques that independent gyms and fitness clubs can use to compensate and utilise Gym Member Seasonality

Gym seasonality may seem challenging, but it doesn’t have to be a sisyphean struggle, to be repeated year on year for no gain! You can use several strategies to hedge against the ebbs and flows of customer behaviour and keep your gym business thriving all year round.

 

1. Create a unique culture and an atmosphere within the gym that members will want to stay a part of:

The unfortunate truth is that if a gym member decides that they do not wish to be a member of that gym anymore, the value proposition that was keeping them there has slipped.

As such, it is important that all independent gym and fitness club owners look into how they can create a unique and compelling fitness facility culture that new members will feel loath to leave. 

If a gym feels ordinary or even disposable, there will be little to stop these seasonal members from walking out the door. They will be confident that they can find something similar next Summer or New Year, and that their fitness will not suffer greatly for the absence of the membership.

It is this apathy that we are trying to combat by creating a culture of excellence in the run-up to the two usual influx periods. Get important repairs and training done in the quieter months such as December. For independent gym’s near academic institutions, sorting these issues out in August are ideal. 

Increasing members aren’t just turning towards independent gym’s for their fitness needs, they want a unique experience and a service that will enhance their life in meaningful ways. 

By offering a compelling working space that offers a tangible sense of community and an aura of excellence, an independent gym is taking a massive step towards not just being a ‘seasonal fad’ for some members. 

2. Discounts on Classes, Personal Trainers, Event Days:

On the other side of the coin, another way to get people to stick around is to incentivise them! If a member just comes to a gym every other day during January and February, interacts with very few people and the independent gym or fitness club essentially ‘leaves them alone’. It will be very, very easy for that person to disconnect with the gym and get rid of their membership come March. 

Apathy begets apathy. Otherwise known as, you get what you put in! 

Which is why we recommend that during these influx months that independent gyms and fitness clubs start laying it on thick with the classes and incentives. 

Whether it is discounts on membership packages, class bundle discounts, introductory offers on personal trainers or special event-invites. Each piece of engagement might help the influx members forge bonds, whether it is with staff or other members, that will make them that much more likely to retain their gym membership thereafter. 



3. Soft-focus on seasonality in marketing during the fluctuation period:

When we say ‘soft-focus’, we just mean to be subtle. Talk about issues that affect members during these influx periods without directly saying ‘Don’t give up!’. It is a hard balancing act, but one that will be noted. 

Not only should this focus be about attracting new members during the influx periods, it should be able to offer positive messaging to try and help retain those members that do signup. 

Create content that will resonate with the challenges that these members are facing at the time. If it is New Year, marketing should focus not only on the desire for self-improvement, but plans for the year or half year. In turn, if it is Summer, it is important to not only push the notion of self-improvement but about sustainable exercise all year around. 

4. Increase focus on Secondary Spending during the influx months:

Stocking key products in the run-up to an influx period could be the difference between retaining members and not. Not only do common secondary spend items at independent gyms constitute a vital support network for members, they also represent an opportunity to link quality products with an independent gym or fitness club.

If members start to incorporate these products into their daily routine, the connection with the independent gym becomes stronger. We find that many gyms just try and batten down the hatches and ride out this period with their usual stock levels. Not only do shortages not leave a good impression, they also deny potentially greater integration between gym and members.

5. Work out what works! Data, Feedback and Customer Retention for independent gyms during the fluctuation months:

Finally, and most importantly, it is about keeping track of what works, what doesn’t and how great an impact these measures are having on the seasonal retention rate of an independent gym or fitness club. 

As we mentioned in the introduction, this will require detailed and powerful membership details not always available with every suite of gym membership management software currently available on the market. 

But for those that do, the potential to understand and eventually master the process of seasonal gym member retention is significant. With the right gym membership management software, independent gyms will be able to keep track of which of their initiatives are working, even being able to break down the trends across the month or even the week the member joined.

When supported by surveys, this data can become truly transformative, allowing independent gyms to cross-reference the trend of member history with their opinions on retention. 

And given that the seasonal cycle will repeat itself, there won’t be long before they can put into practice their feedback for the next year. This can help create a cycle of positive momentum, powered by the seasons themselves, allowing independent gym’s to increase their members (and therefore profit) while minimising attrition.

Not only that, but with the right gym membership management software, these influxes can even be charted and tracked when it comes to potential earnings, members and capacity. This can be invaluable for future planning, allowing the seasonal tide to act as a powerful engine for profit generation and growth within an independent gym. 

The pitfalls, negatives and potential costs of gym member seasonality: What independent gym and fitness club owners should be careful of regarding seasonality

Now that we’ve covered the positives, we will spend the latter part of this article looking at some of the pitfalls that can open up for new independent gym and fitness club owners if gym membership seasonality isn’t appropriately accounted for using the techniques we have looked into above. 

While we have focused on the positives of maintaining momentum and either keeping stable or steadily increasing the flow of members. The opposite is also true. A significant number of members leaving, even as part of a seasonal cycle, can be damaging to morale and of course, damaging to profits. 


Operational Costs Instability

Without proper eyes on membership numbers, there is the potential for a vast amount of inefficiency and waste to occur on the front of operational costs.

Without suitably robust gym membership management software to understand the ebbs and flows of members, gyms risk taking on too many staff, marketing incorrectly and a host of other pitfalls that can arise from not having sufficient eyes on the details of their operation. 

This is where the importance of a reliable gym membership management software package shines through. Even if it takes a few cycles for the retention initiatives to work, the reassurance that knowing how the cycle will most likely play out every year is invaluable to any serious independent gym or fitness club owner!

Unreliable members, unreliable revenue:

Without the ability to chart, track and rely on a stable membership, the dips can become costly. It is a well-known fact in the fitness industry that a relatively small increase in retention can vastly increase profitability. 

As such, independent gym owners who ignore the issue of seasonal dropoff do so at their own peril.

Lost Potential

Independent gym and fitness club owners that don’t take the opportunity to learn from their seasonal cycles are, unfortunately, destined to repeat the worst aspects of them. Not only that, but without the appropriate data capture, the potential for improvement will be squandered year after year.

While this might be imperceptible, when gym owners do this they are essentially borrowing from tomorrow. The deficit will eventually become apparent, and then overwhelming. The value of data outputs powering the decision making of today can’t be overestimated, especially when both the fitness industry and independent gyms and fitness clubs rely so heavily on the seasonal cycle.

Conclusion

And thus ends our brief overview on how independent gyms and fitness clubs can harness the power of the seasonal tides, using the data and experience to create positive momentum that can endure all year around.

If you are an independent gym or fitness club manager or owner who feels that their gym isn’t making the most of their data or their yearly influxes, perhaps the problem lies in your gym membership management software and partnership?

Without quality and meaningful data outputs and the powerful BI technology necessary to interpret them, it can be an uphill battle.

But we here at Ashbourne have over twenty five years of experience in the fitness industry, helping thousands of partner gyms, fitness clubs and more take their operations and profits to the next level. 

And our expertise doesn’t end at data and membership management. Our teams have helped transform the business-as-usual operations of gyms across the country in every arena, whether it is marketing, web-presence, access controls or business development. 

Interested and want to know more? Then please don’t hesitate to contact our demonstration team here today! They are on stand-by, ready to learn about your gym and how Ashbourne Membership Management can help it be in a better position this time next year!

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

What Is Fitness Class Management Software?

What Is Fitness Class Management Software?

In today’s blog we will be tackling one of the most important technical issues for an independent gym or fitness club to get right. 

Class Management

 

Or more specifically, Class Management Software. The days of keeping track of classes on a blackboard have passed! (Though you can keep doing it for the retro-aesthetic if you want!) We are looking for a method of fitness class arrangement that can’t be completely disrupted by a board-eraser/rubber. 

Much as with Gym membership management and access controls, the discipline of class management has been revolutionised in the last twenty years. Gone are the reams of paper and notice boards as the sole method of communication. 

Now the market has expanded, there are multiple providers of powerful software that enable an independent gym to organise and maintain a complete class booking system on a significantly reduced budget.

This software empowers gym and fitness club management with fast, reactive, and efficient means to handle bookings, payment, scheduling, rescheduling, and customer service. 

The centralisation of these tasks into a single piece of effortless and intuitive software can help revolutionise the amount of time and energy required to organise multiple classes in an active independent gym or fitness club environment.  

The drain on staff hours that used to come with the endless organising, rescheduling and liaising between instructors and class attendees can now be diminished and made manageable. 

With this in mind, we will be looking at the top features of fitness class management software and why it is a must-have for any independent gym or fitness club, whether they are looking to expand their class offering by freeing up capacity, or cope with their existing class structure that has become too unwieldy. 

Desirable Features

A Unifying Force

Perhaps the most impactful selling point of fitness class management software is how it can act as a central hub. Class management can, with very little warning become a quagmire. It is not uncommon that we hear horror stories from independent gyms and fitness clubs, usually concerning how they needed to reduce the number of classes or the scale due to the flaws in their approach to organising and administering the classes. 

Given that once a class schedule and scheduling system is introduced, it is meant to run constantly and consistently week after week, it is to be expected that even the slightest miscalculation in setup might result in significant inconvenience, either for the staff, the instructors, or the membership themselves.

This is where fitness class management software can set independent gyms and fitness clubs off on the right foot with their class scheduling endeavours.

By unifying every aspect of class management within a professional, tried and tested structure, the chances of these systems spiraling out of control is dramatically reduced.

With all the necessary information not only to hand but easily changed, updated, and amended, the process loses a lot of its inherent risk for spiralling out of control. 

With fitness class management software that allows gym members and staff alike to be reactive and proactive, the pitfalls of class management for independent gyms start to fall away.

Class Booking Applications

Software To Suit Any Independent Gym Or Fitness Club

With our twenty-five years of experience in the fitness industry, we know better than most that every independent gym or fitness club is unique.

This is why we recommend only going for fitness class management software that can provide the necessary flexibility to accommodate a broad range of classes and facilities.

Luckily many pieces of fitness class management software, including our own, are versatile, allowing staff to balance class-subscriptions, packages and bundles, single class payments and recurring payments, as well as discount codes. 

This is vital for ensuring that the payment infrastructure is connected to the fitness class management software and therefore has the flexibility to deal with the preferred method of payment for both the gym and the membership.

Payments

Contactless, Online, App-Based, Direct Debits

This brings us to our next interlinked feature which is a must-have for all fitness class management software. 

As touched upon above, the ability to integrate a payment environment safely and securely is a must. 

Ideally, this should go beyond just web-based online payment as well. Post-Covid it is expected that fitness class management software should be able to handle not only app-based payments but also contactless. 

One of the main functions of fitness class management software is to make transactions as smooth and accessible as possible across the potential desires of an independent gym’s membership base! Different members will want to pay in different ways for their classes and the software and its supporting app must be able to facilitate as many as possible.

 

Software Designed To Suit And Assist Any Instructor

As with members and staff, there is no point in having fitness class management software if it does not exist to aid the instructors.

The most sophisticated piece of software in the world won’t be worth the price point if no one in a gym or fitness club can use it. 

That is why fitness class management software must be usable by all parties, not just staff and the membership of the facility. 

Without this, the risk of further complications and the unnecessary transfer of information between staff and instructors.

This is a factor that often leads to the disintegration or discontinuation of effective class management structure in our experience, so it is important to find an app that removes the incentive by empowering the instructors appropriately. This can be achieved by giving them limited but direct access to the class management software. 

It is every bit as vital that they can manage their clients and class members in an independent but controlled virtual environment. By using fitness class management software that allows for payment, communication, alterations, and information requests, a significant amount of stress, hassle, and time commitment can be eliminated from the process. 

With the right fitness class management software, an independent gym or fitness club management will be able to confidently oversee their class scheduling system while being assured it is still in the hands of their staff and instructors.

A Powerful Retention Tool

Engaging And Communicating With Members

Deeply connected to the previous feature, we also thought it was worth referencing that the features of a truly impact fitness class management software suite will help empower members and aid retention. 

When looking for which fitness class management software to use, it is important to look for features that allow instructors and staff to communicate with the members regarding the classes they have signed up for. 

In our experience, it has been proven time and time again that members who receive bespoke, pertinent communication (not just spam!) about the classes they have signed up to are more likely to attend. 

Sometimes a bespoke message from an instructor or trainer can be all that it takes for an otherwise reluctant member to go to that Friday Barre class. And a member that goes to that class is that much more likely to keep their gym membership! 

It is a simple example but a powerful indication of what we all know communication can do when it comes to that all-important mission of retaining membership numbers.

It is an easy, efficient, and effective way of fostering a sense of belonging and community outside of the four walls of a fitness facility. A class will normally only last 45 minutes to an hour but with the ability for instructors to communicate it is a way to make that class feel like a more tangible part of the members’ life between sessions. 

Virtual Workouts And Fitness App Integration

The dual-rise of Virtual Workouts and Fitness Apps had begun before the Covid-19 pandemic, however, both skyrocketed in popularity as a result of the lockdowns. 

While the popularity of virtual workouts has not maintained their lofty highs from the now surreal lockdown, they are still much more popular than before 2020. 

This trend especially applies to millennials and Gen Z, who, as we have covered in other blogs recently, now make up the vast majority of gym and fitness club members. 

With these two developments in mind, it is no wonder that the desirability of virtual workouts and recorded classes has increased significantly in the last half-decade. 

Much like the communication feature we discussed earlier in this blog, virtual workouts allow for an independent gym or fitness club to project their influence and reach well beyond the four walls of the fitness facility itself.

Virtual engagement is now being seen as a powerful retention tool for the younger generations. They are tools that suit many of the values and capabilities they hold dear, whether it is working from home and then immediately partaking in a virtual workout or relying on their phone as the sole point of virtual interaction with their gym. 

As larger chains start to adopt more and more virtual and fitness app services, independent gyms and fitness clubs mustn’t be left behind in their choice of fitness club management software. 

Data Analytics, BI And Exporting Reports

And here at Ashbourne, we know the importance of software that doesn’t just deal with business-as-Usual but is capable of raising an independent gym or fitness club’s operations to the next level. 

That is why one of the features we advocate for most keenly when it comes to fitness class management software is data. 

While everything we have covered up until this point is necessary, desirable, and important for a modern gym or fitness club looking to get its fitness class scheduling system under control, we don’t believe it is enough. 

As with every aspect of modern gym management software, whether it is membership management, access control, or fitness classes, we believe that that software should be giving the staff and management valuable feedback. 

Whether it is monitoring the correlation between attendance and price-point, the popularity of a certain time slot or class, or simply understanding the total number of members engaging with the fitness class system, a truly powerful piece of fitness class management software should be constantly working for the gym or fitness club. Gathering information that can be easily exported and turned into meaningful, usable data. 

Without this, valuable data such as the preference members have for certain classes, the waxing and waning popularity of classes across the weeks and seasons, and the impact of the peak hours on the class system, all of this gets left on the table, fated to disappear into the void.

Given the cumulative effect that this can have, we believe that analytical reporting features are a must on any piece of fitness class management software. 


As ever in business, it isn’t just what actions are taken, it is what actions are not. Without sophisticated reporting capabilities, data and feedback will be left on the table every week, every month, and every quarter. 

It is these data-driven decisions that can make a profound impact on the course that an independent gym or fitness club’s class offering will take. Without the ability to collect anything other than anecdotal evidence, the inability to react to otherwise obvious patterns is vastly diminished.

Conclusion

We hope this blog has helped impress just how vital fitness class management software can be for an independent gym or fitness club, as well as reinforcing what features can truly make a difference.

It isn’t enough just to purchase any piece of fitness class management software, it is about picking the right one for the right club. 

Here at Ashbourne Membership Management, we believe we have created a complete suite of software that can handle fitness class management as well as elevating a host of other areas vital to the business-as-usual running of a fitness facility.

Whether it is assisting with access controls, BI interfaces or membership and payment, Ashbourne’s software is capable of unifying the key (and often disparate) functions of a gym or fitness club into one environment. 

So whether you are just interested in resolving some troublesome class scheduling issues or want a complete suite and a partnership that will help take your business to the next level, click here to arrange a demo today! 

More to Read...

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club,
the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Get your club in shape.

Want to discover how? Let us show you.

Simply select your preferred timeslot and we’ll be in touch to have a chat about your health club, the goals you want to achieve, and how our system can help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

Member of a gym? Simply text "HELP" to 60777 and we'll help you.

How To Beat A Pure Gym: Case Study of an Independent Gym – The Fit Club: Redditch

How To Beat A Pure Gym: Case Study of an Independent Gym – The Fit Club: Redditch

In every industry and sector, we have stories like this. The biggest fish is moving in. McDonalds to the fast food industry, supermarkets for convenience stores.

And often there are one of two reactions to this development. One, incorrectly, is to view it with an air of defeatism and inevitability. Some approach it with the steady resignation that impersonal and corporate brands will just roll across the country, setting up cookie-cutter businesses with the lowest overhead and the largest appeal.

While this is not unfounded, it is also not useful and ultimately, not true. 

McDonalds has existed as a global force for over 50 years, the supermarket as we know it is (debatably) pushing a century. And yet neither has eradicated independent and local business. 

PureGym, for those curious, is 15 years old this year and just like our previous examples, does not need to signal doom and despair to independent gyms and fitness clubs. 

And as we like to show our workings, our blog today is about a real instance of an independent gym fending off and thriving when a PureGym moved to their large town. 

So we will be looking at how Fit Club picked the second reaction to a PureGym moving, not despair and defeatism, but energy, dynamism and resourcefulness. We will look at how they were able to maximise their strengths and account for their weaknesses, all while taking into account what really mattered, their membership and the local area. 

3 Things You Will learn...

01

A look into the key factors that had to change for the Fit Club to hold their ground against Pure Gym.

02

How Ashbourne’s membership management software and access control helped solve problems.

03

How the focus changed to building a community within the club.

How The Fit Club Thrived When A Pure Gym Moved In Next Door

We will start by painting a picture of The Fit Club in Redditch as it was just before PureGym moved into the town…

It is a gym that attracts