5 Things That Actually Improve Retention in Gyms

A laptop displays an image of five classical architectural pillars.

Does a 300-workout badge improve retention in gyms?


How about free coffee in the lobby?

Again, maybe—but probably not.

Will your shiny new bikes and sandbags help you hold onto clients?

It’s tempting to say “maybe” here again, but I know the answer is actually “no.” Equipment is not a retention tool.

In the gym world, we can point to lots of things that might improve retention, but mentorship and “might” don’t mix.

So here are five things that have been proven to improve retention in gyms:

1. Results
2. Fame
3. Compatibility
4. Consistency
5. Referrals

A graphic showing the 5 pillars of retention in a gym: results, consistency, compatibility, fame and referrals.

1. Results

Obvious? Wait a second before you say that.

You can’t just get “some results” for a client. You must get the client the exact result he wanted when he signed up. You must solve the big problem.

You can’t use a bench-press PR to retain a client who wants to lose weight.

2. Fame

Your clients must feel like they matter in your coaching business. They can’t be “faces in the crowd.”

You must go out of your way to put clients on podiums so they are seen and recognized.

3. Compatibility

You must have excellent product-market fit.

Most gym owners don’t think about this and try to get every single person to sign up. That’s a trap.

You cannot retain the wrong clients. It’s impossible. The ultra-competitive former college athlete will not stay at your gym if you specialize in helping 40-plus professionals lose weight.

To retain more clients, sign up the right clients.

4. Consistency

If your clients don’t show up regularly, they soon won’t show up at all.

And consistency is about adherence to a program, not just raw attendance figures. More is not always better. If your client signed up to come three times a week, you’ll retain that client if she comes three times a week.

Review each client’s adherence to the program you’ve prescribed to produce swift results. Is the client using they package they purchased? If the answer is “yes,” the client is likely to stay. If the answer is “no,” take swift action or you’re likely to lose the client.

5. Referrals

People who stay longer refer more people—and they’re invested in the success of the people they refer. The new people are more likely to stay because the referrer is part of your retention crew.

Further, if people refer friends, they are creating additional ties to your business: Cindy won’t quit a month after referring her best friend Sam.

If you have a system in place to encourage clients to refer others, your retention numbers will improve.

Use Surefire Tactics First

Can you improve retention in other ways? Yes.

But I know these five things will get measurable results fast because we’ve tracked retention data in thousands of gyms for years.

If I were you, I’d hit everything on the list above first.

After that, you can try other tactics—our mentors have a huge toolbox for clients, and we pick the right tactic at the right time.

But we don’t skip past these “five pillars of retention” because we know they produce measurable results fast every time.  

My new retention guide comes out today! Head to Gym Owners United to get “Never Lose a Client Again.”


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.