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Key Research Findings and Webinar Video – Group Exercisers Who Attend Just Once Per Week 20% More Likely to be Loyal Members Than Gym-Only Users Visiting 3 Times

Research Conducted by Dr Melvyn Hillsdon in Partnership with the Customer Engagement Academy (CEA).

The latest research from our partnership with esteemed academic, Dr Melvyn Hillsdon, released via our newly formed Customer Engagement Academy (CEA), shows that members visiting just once per week to take part in a group exercise class alongside working out in the gym are 20% more likely to be loyal club Promoters (as defined by the Net Promoter Score® methodology) than those attending an impressive 3 times per week to just workout in the gym.


With previous research from the partnership showing members who are classed as Promoters being more likely to retain their membership across a period of 2 years compared to Passives and Detractors, it is incredibly valuable to you to understand how to increase the number of Promoters in your club – and group exercise could play a key role in achieving this. 

Les Mills International COO Global Markets, Martin Franklin says “We completely agree with the need for the social element of exercise. Our recent research demonstrates that Les Mills class participants are retained as members up to 150% longer than gym only members. We know how important frequent social assisted exercise is in maintaining motivation, it is the DNA of our programs, and our partners prove it through results time and time again.” 

Other key findings from this latest release include: 

Visit Frequency 

Whilst the type of activity a member takes part in when they visit has proven to have a significant impact on their loyalty, visit frequency is still important too. 48% of members who visited to take part in just group exercise on average 3 times per week were Promoters compared to only 36% of members who visited for the same reason but only did so on average less than once per week. 

Activity Variety 

Members who cited 4 or more reasons for attending (just 5% of those in the study) were more than twice as likely to be a Promoter than those only citing 1 reason (48% of those in the study). Showing the real opportunity to encourage more members to take part in a variety of activities in your club, and the tangible benefit and importance of doing so to your success. 

Length of Membership 

Across the board, likeliness to be a Promoter decreased the longer an individual remained a member; indicating possible conclusions that either member expectations increase with tenure, the service and overall experience received by members declines with tenure, or a combination of the two. With such a focus from the industry on getting new members in and looking after them in their formative months, it is important not to take your ‘regulars’ for granted otherwise you are just filling a leaky bucket and letting revenue pour away. CEA Honorary Vice President, Chris Stevenson (Owner and Founder of Los Angeles based club Stevenson Fitness), who was involved in our launch webinar for the research (recording available on-demand below), doesn’t believe there are any such thing as ‘regulars’ and it is a ‘dirty word’ in his business. “At our facility we coach all our staff that no one is a ‘regular’, because human nature tells us that we are always going to focus on the new starters if we think like that. Instead we ask them to pretend it is everyone’s first day, and to treat them accordingly. This forces them to adopt the mindset that these longer standing members are still important and therefore continuing to make them feel special is just as important as making the new people feel that way.” 

Lead Researcher on the project, CEA Honorary President and Associate Professor Sport and Health Sciences at University of Exeter, Dr Melvyn Hillsdon summarised “Members visit their clubs for different reasons and these reasons are related to the likelihood that they will be Promoters of your club. The more reasons people have for visiting clubs the more likely they are to be a club Promoter, especially if one of their main reasons for visiting involves group exercise. New members tend to start with just the gym and need help to explore all that the club has to offer; in particular group exercise. Long standing members are less likely to be club Promoters and need re-energising on a regular basis to make them feel valued and to stop their membership becoming stale. Constantly giving people new and rewarding reasons to visit clubs will increase the chances they promote them to others.” 

The recording of our launch webinar (30-minute session + 20-minute Q&A) for the new research, is available below for you to watch on-demand at your convenience.

In this session, Dr Melvyn Hillsdon takes you through the latest findings in-depth – showing you the relationship between members’ usual reasons for attendance, level of attendance and loyalty (as measured by Net Promoter Score®). 

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Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.