How Performance Tracking Can Help Gyms Retain Members

Increasing membership retention gives gyms a more consistent income. It also signifies higher client satisfaction, with members happy to return...

Increasing membership retention gives gyms a more consistent income. It also signifies higher client satisfaction, with members happy to return and pay fees. This is no small feat in a competitive industry navigating an energy and cost-of-living crisis, but how can encouraging members to track their progress and performance help gyms boost membership numbers?  


Why Performance Matters to Gym Members 

Motivation is a finite resource. Think of the gym during the first week of January. According to Gym Desk, 50% of new members quit within the first six months. Motivation gets them started, but discipline bridges the gap between motivation and habit.  

And it can be a big gap. 

Contrary to popular belief, building a habit can take up to 254 days. 

Beginners will also likely feel disheartened by a perceived lack of progress. In contrast, the more experienced may feel like they’ve hit a plateau. Results won’t be immediately visible. It may take many weeks or months to see physical changes in their fitness or body composition.  This assumption is often based on a lack of tangible evidence. It may be incorrect because significant changes have likely been occurring in the body. Still, without seeing or feeling them, members are more likely to give up or scale down their efforts.   

This is where goal setting and performance tracking can help.  

Goal setting can help members maintain their efforts for longer. It can encourage new starters or at-risk members to trust in a process that will only sometimes yield tangible results. It shows them they’re moving the needle, even when that movement is slight. It helps them focus on the journey rather than becoming fixated on results in the future. 

Understanding performance can also help people reconnect with the reason they started working out in the first place. For those more experienced, performance tracking can also highlight what isn’t working and why.  

Performance tracking also provides context for each workout. It’s more objective, which is important because progress isn’t linear. Fitness is as much about turning up as it is anything else. We’re not always firing on all cylinders. There are days when exercise feels more challenging or less enjoyable. It can be easy to assume that those workouts represent a misstep. We’ve done something wrong. We need to try harder. This isn’t working. But feedback from a fitness tracker, for example, can show that a workout was effective even if it didn’t feel like it was. It relies on data, not feelings. It may also help a person understand why it felt more challenging, highlighting overtraining, poor sleep hygiene, hormone changes, or stress.  

There’s an interesting opinion piece by Barbend on CrossFit news.   

The writer describes something he witnessed at a cross-fit gym. He saw people joining and exercising but left because they couldn’t see results. What’s interesting is these people were (in his eyes) making progress. They were physically stronger and completed exercises more quickly, but as they had no tangible evidence of progress, they gave up. This observation led to him building a performance tracker for cross-fitters that helped boost retention at those gyms. It gave these people an independent means of measuring their progress. It helped them navigate a path towards their goals and showed that people are prone to giving up too soon, especially when they can’t see how they’re doing. Crucially, they helped gyms retain more members.  

Xplorgym explains that Gen-Z and Millennials are driven by technology. 55% of gym-goers under 35 use wearable tech and fitness trackers compared to 30% of those aged 55+, suggesting that younger people are more data-driven and more comfortable adapting technology to their fitness routines. Their research indicates that 64% of gym goers under 35 think gyms should offer tech that helps members track performance, closely followed by 53% of those over 55.  

It also helps motivate people to work harder during the session. We noticed it during our live events at Bloomberg HQ, PerformX Live and the first class we filmed at Storm in Berlin. People liked seeing how much clean energy they generated both as individual riders and in class. For some, it made them more competitive. This is known as the Köhler effect, which occurs when someone works harder as a participant in a class than they would alone. Great news if you have RE:GEN bikes in your studio because the more effort people put into their workout, the more energy is generated and stored.  


How can gyms encourage members to track their progress?  

The onboarding process is a great opportunity to talk to new members about their goals. They may want to lose weight, build muscle, increase mobility or train for a set distance or time. It could also be to improve physical and mental health outcomes. Suggesting an appropriate goal or target can be a great way of getting them to think about fitness as a journey rather than just an end-specific result. It’s also a chance to introduce them to relevant classes or trainers or to suggest apps and wearables that can help.  

This point about classes is twofold. Research shows that people who exercise in groups are less likely to cancel their membership than those exercising alone. There are several reasons why this may be, including accountability and social interaction. Members are also more likely to treat classes as appointments, making them easier to commit to. There are now many classes designed around an energetic and club-like atmosphere, like STORM Cycle Studio in Berlin 

Member portals are helpful for providing access to membership details and activities. They can also allow users to log their workout metrics or integrate data provided by fitness trackers or smart wearable devices.  

Trainerize talks about creating a personalised training experience, including customised workout plans and progress tracking. This can be helpful for smaller studios and trainers. 

Leaderboards can also be helpful. Sohail Rashid from Brawn talks about taking calculations of gender, age, and body weight into consideration (for strength training). The leaderboard creates a ‘positive competitive energy’ to help people push themselves.  

It’s why the RE:GEN Studio uses software that provides real-time leaderboards, incentivised workout tracking, and FTP smart power zoning. Tracking can also be used in gamification software. It provides a baseline and a target, even for members who aren’t especially competitive. The data can supplement the more light-hearted approach to exercising. 


Wearables for clients and classes can help. David Lloyd provides Myzone heart rate tracking belts during its BLAZE classes. The HIIT class is a mix of cardio, strength, and combat training, but the difference is that the data from the chest straps is fed into a live leaderboard screen showing heart rate zones that light up as tiles, displaying what level people are in.  
The idea behind wearing this type of technology is explained by David Lloyd PT Ambassador, Coach Jack Claxton, who said, “During a workout, your brain will often try to tell our body to stop or take it easier...with a heart rate device your brain can’t fool you because you can see exactly how hard you’re working.’  

Suppose people stop exercising because they don't see results. In that case, technology like this can clarify that something is happening. Progress is being made—even if it isn't visible yet.      

Many of us consume influencer content on our social feeds. While these can be great sources of inspiration, they aren’t always an accurate picture of fitness progression, especially if the influencer is doctoring images or advocating products they don’t use. It makes sense to reassure people that visible results take time but that exercising has all sorts of benefits. Encouraging members to log their feelings before and after workouts can also help them notice changes they might otherwise overlook.  

Watching cardiovascular health scores increase or noticing an increase in reps or weight can help people commit to long-term sustainable goals, which is excellent news for gyms, too.   

Find out how Energym's electricity-generating indoor bikes and supporting software packages can help transform your gym, visit our RE:GEN for gym's page. 


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