Gym Client Reacquisition: Like Acquisition, but Cheaper and Easier

A gym owner sits in his office and calls a departed client to see how she's doing.

Here’s an important stat for gym owners:

44 percent of the 2,000 respondents in a recent ABC Fitness poll said they were once gym members before COVID but have not gone back to their gyms.

Wow, right?

These people had once broken free from their couches, slapped their credit cards down at gyms and signed up. Then the pandemic came. With lockdowns in place, these consumers broke their habits completely or started training at home, and they still haven’t returned to gyms.

But you might be able to change that.

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

Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper has often said that the easiest member to get is someone who’s been a member before. These people already know, like and trust you.

In fact, Two-Brain gives clients a simple, one-line email they can send to departed members. It almost always results in reacquisition. (Secret cheat-code email: “Do you still want to improve your fitness this year?”)

The beginning of the year is a prime time to send this message. But the beginning of 2023 might be the best time in history to send it out.

Think about it:

  • Pandemic-related lockdowns are thankfully a thing of the past in most of the world.
  • People have had enough time to get bored with at-home fitness gear and programs.
  • Pandemic-related weight gain and mood disorders are not rare.
  • Many people are looking to rebuild personal connections severed over the last three years of isolation.
  • The pandemic put health—and, by association, fitness—in the spotlight.

I think one of the best ways to invest your time is to pick up the phone and call every single member who departed your gym between 2020 and 2023.

You don’t have to make this a high-pressure, come-to-Jesus sales pitch. You can just ask them how they’re doing, then have a conversation like real humans used to have before TikTok, AI and VR headsets.

Will every person you call rejoin your gym? No. Some have moved on, some are still scared of COVID and some are trying to make their 2020 investment in a Peloton bike make sense.

But some people will come back to your gym. I’d wager your voice and care will motivate a few of them to do so right on the call. And I’d guess that a few others will return after thinking about it for a few days. Others will just appreciate your check-in, and who knows what that goodwill might bring down the line—a referral, perhaps?

You really have nothing to lose by comparing your current client list to your 2020 list and then picking up the phone. Reacquisition is a lot easier and a lot cheaper than acquisition, and you already have all the contact info you need to reach out and rekindle a relationship.

So resist the urge to open TikTok right now. Instead, take an hour of your time and call a few departed members.

Remember: About 44 percent of one-time gym goers are out there, and they probably need your help desperately.


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.