The Big-Money Play for Gym Owners: Retain Clients Longer

A graphic showing the top-down view of a large stack of bundles of $100 bills.

We published a mountain of numbers in our 2023 “State of the Industry” report.

Here’s what will happen if you push some of your metrics beyond the average.

A head shot of writer Mike Warkentin and the column name "Pressing It Out."

First, our annual report is free for gym owners. You can get it here.

In that report, we collected data from 13,444 gyms, we ran it through an independent statistician, and then we organized and analyzed the data for you. If you run a fitness business, our guide will help you make all the right decisions in 2024.

Here’s one of the first decisions I’d make after reading the report: I’d take steps to improve retention.

The industry average length of engagement is 7.8 months. That’s not good. For comparison, Two-Brain clients hold members for 20 or more months, on average, by using tried-and-tested retention tactics.

According to PushPress, the average gym gains 7.3 new clients per month, and it loses 5.3 per month, for a net gain of two clients.

If you found a way to hold onto just one more client per month, the effects on your business would be significant.

The Financial Effects of Retention

Let’s say you started using quarterly goal reviews—which have been proven to improve length of engagement (LEG) and average revenue per member (ARM)—and held onto one extra member each month. We’ll just assume the client who stays is paying the average group training price of $165. That’s $165 more revenue you get to keep.

But what if you went further?

Let’s say that member mentions frustration with double-unders in the goal review session, so you sell one personal-training session at $75. That client is now worth $240 for the month.

Maybe you follow Chris Cooper’s advice and schedule a retail presale for the end of the year. If the client buys a T-shirt for $30—and clients generally buy T-shirts—that client is now worth $270.

What if you are able to retain the client for three months, with this breakdown:

  • 3 months of group membership at $165 a month.
  • 3 PT sessions (1 per month) at $75 each.
  • 1 December T-shirt sale at $30.
  • 1 January nutrition kickstart at $120.  

The total value there is $870.

Let’s say that client makes progress on double-unders and is thrilled at your next goal review session, so you put the same plan in place but focus on snatches in the PT sessions. The client stays for another three months and enrolls in an Olympic-lifting specialty program for $250, too.

  • 3 months of group membership at $165 a month.
  • 3 PT sessions (1 per month) at $75 each.
  • Specialty program registration: $250.

That’s $970 for the quarter, or $1,840 over six months.

I’ll go one step further. What if you ask the happy client for a referral at the second goal review session? The client gives you the name of a co-worker who can use help, and you book a No Sweat Intro. The co-worker signs up.

  • Intro package: $450.
  • 2 months of group membership at $165 a month.
  • 1 T-shirt at $30.

That’s $810 in new revenue. Add it to the first client’s six-month total and you have $2,650 over a six-month period—all because you prevented one client from leaving.

Positive Momentum

I won’t go further. You can already see how the value of a retained client can spiral if you set your business up properly.

You can do the math yourself to figure out what would happen if you saved two or three clients a month, held them for six or nine additional months each, increased the average revenue for each client, and earned a referral or two from each one.

I’ll just give you this stat: The average gym owner who filled out the Two-Brain Gym Checkup could have earned an extra $45,000 in 2018 just by increasing average retention by two months.

That’s just one example of how you can use numbers to improve your business and create the life you deserve.

Our “State of the Industry” report is packed with similar insight and analysis from Chris Cooper. The report is yours for free, and I hope you take the time to download it, read it and use it to build a world-class gym.

Here’s the link one more time: “State of the Industry 2023.”  


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.