Retention: The Key to Huge Client Counts in Gyms

A pink magnet attracts a bunch of people-shaped magnets to illustrate gym retention.

Every gym on our December 2023 leaderboard had more than 324 clients.

It’s worth mentioning that big numbers like this are relatively rare.

In our 2023 “State of the Industry” report, we discovered the average gym has about 150-160 members.

That’s a great first target. If you have 150 members who pay about $205 a month on average, you can earn a six-figure income and avoid the stress that comes with huge overhead and large teams.

Those challenges are real, by the way. When we interview the owners of gyms with large client counts, the words “staffing” and “systems” come up right away. You simply can’t manage a ton of members without a thick book of standard operating procedures and a solid team-building plan.

Sometimes our conversations with these gym owners sound like discussions in the C-suite of some large corporation.

We never hear about squat programs and weightlifting progressions. It’s always stuff like this:

“I gave my client success manager clear roles and tasks, and I meet with him monthly to review our hard targets. Then I compare those metrics to key performance indicators for lifetime value and length of engagement. When the CSM hits his targets, all KPIs improve every single time, so we’re hiring a second CSM now.”

That’s the kind of mentality you need to achieve client counts like this:

A top 10 leaderboard for client counts in gyms, from 324 to 1,034.

One of our leaders completely opened his data set for us on the “Run a Profitable Gym” podcast/YouTube channel:

Here’s more of what our leaders had to say when we asked them how they got so many members:

“Previously (we focused on) marketing, but since COVID … we have had to transition more towards offering high-end services, which has led us to utilize Two-Brain resources and guides more and more as time has gone on. Our focus now is retention.”

“Initially we were solely focused on marketing, driving in 70-100 new members a month, but now we are around 50-60 new a month. We hired a CSM who is working well at prescribing and doing goal reviews. … We’re taking on board Two-Brain’s systems for retention, the Prescriptive Model and average revenue per member.”


“We just actually took action, and our data shows what is possible with Two-Brain Business. … When I started goal reviews, I was able to book just five. After hiring a CSM, she booked over 100 goal reviews inside 14 days. Today, we average 180 goal reviews every 90 days.”

“Colm O’Reilly’s paid marketing Office Hours are massive in our ability to drive in new members. We average 132 leads a month, up from just 20 with organic. These people are hot leads, too: They want to talk to us about their health and fitness. We set 60 appointments and 48 showed.”

“We offered something fun for all our different types of clients and focused on the client journey, gift giving and milestone celebrations.”

“We offer weekly Friday bring-a-friend sessions called Flex Friday—one at noon and one at 8 p.m. These are the only sessions that members can bring a friend to. The sessions are special. The coach can make up the workout and make it something fun. The client cap is twice that of a normal class, sometimes three times. We ask all new members to go to that class to meet other people. In the evening, people hang out for hours after that while having social drinks.”

I think you’ll note the common theme here: retention.

If you want a gym with a lot of clients, you must focus on increasing length of engagement.

If you’re not sure how to do that, a mentor can help.


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.