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Why Average Memberships Per Club in the US are Decreasing & What this Trend Means for your Club.

Dru Hill
Dru Hill
Published on Wed, Feb 20, 2019
man using dumbbells at fitness club

In recent years, the American Fitness Industry has seen a shift in demand for health clubs. You might be surprised to hear that the average size of American Gyms is actually getting smaller given the fact industry revenue figures have been increasing at near record rates.

How is this possible you ask? Well recent trends indicate that younger generations are more infatuated with experiences rather than actual goods themselves. For Gyms and health clubs this means that members aren’t just satisfied with barbells, dumbbells and cardio machines like they once were - American fitness consumers are looking more for the “workout experience” your gym offers.

With the increase in small gyms entering the market and rapid growth in boutique clubs in recent years, the average number of members per gym in the US is decreasing. Larger clubs are growing too (annually increasing by 5%), just not as fast as the smaller facilities at around 70% in recent years.

Experts boil this trend down to a number of reasons. One of which being smaller clubs are usually able to target a more specific niche of individuals, tailoring their offering to suit their needs - and therefore leading to a higher demand for the small gym experience.

being able to charge more for your fitness club

A better club experience means your club can charge more.

People who find a better experience at their gym are willing to spend more for their membership - sometimes up to 2-4x as much.

Your club doesn’t need to be small to offer members a good experience!

The experience of a Gym is made up of a number of touch points, from the artwork on the walls to the music playing, lighting, friendliness of staff and even other members in the gym.

As you can see, the experience isn’t just the amenities which your facility offers members, it’s everything your members are exposed to related to your club.

How you can improve the experience for your fitness club members

So, how do I improve the experience of my club to my members?"

The first step to improving the experience of your health club for its members is identifying what type of members you currently have or want more of.

For some clubs they might say “We want more moms to come to our gym through the day time when it’s quiet”. Others may say “We only want the most dedicated, hard working lifters to come to our gym”

The needs and tastes of these two group members are going to be vastly different, so you need to create an environment for a specific audience (ideally without ostracizing one group or the other). As per our previous post ‘the most important goal for your gym is profit’, many clubs might find the answer to choosing the right audience by looking at what type of member they find most profitable.

GymMaster has a number of reports which you could use for this, for example we could look at the Class Attendances report to see who are attending. You might like to customise this report to show information to help better identify what type of people are coming to your classes.

If you find that a lot of your members who sign up (and pay) for one off classes every other week are moms looking to occupy themselves through the day while their kids are at school - then this might be a good audience to target.

targeting fitness club members

Tailoring experience for an Audience

The needs for each member type are very determinant on your club, the member group and another of external factors.  The best way to find out what would improve the experience at your club for them is simply by asking them. For example if you want more moms attending your classes, why not send them an email from GymMaster’s ‘Class Attendances’ report with a few options to see what they respond best to?

Continuing on with our “Moms attending classes” audience, we could look at what their behaviours are when visiting your club.

  • They’re busy and attend the gym at strange hours to accommodate their children.
  • Maybe they like to get a cup of coffee and a protein bar on their way out after a workout
  • Or maybe they just come to the club and the classes for a chance to talk and be around other adults.

To effectively satisfy this audience you could offer them 24/7 access to your club, plus snacks and coffee at the service desk and simply make an effort to talk to clients as they enter /leave your club. Offering these amenities is simple, and you can learn about how your club can easily provide them with GymMaster here.