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6 opportunities to retain health and fitness clients in 2023

Want to keep your health and fitness clients motivated all year? Follow these tips to retain clients throughout 2023.

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You’ve been in the health fitness industry for a while, and you’ve grown from having one client to working with a diverse group of health-conscious people.

Retaining a handful of clients while balancing your workload is difficult enough, and the pressure builds every time you sign on another client.

When you’re spinning a lot of plates, it can be challenging to keep that spark that attracted people to your first location.

Not only does this weaken your brand, but it makes it harder to retain clients in an already challenging post-COVID environment. 

So, how do you keep your clients not only committed but excited to come work out week after week?

I found dozens of stories from health and fitness professionals facing this same dilemma and noticed two themes in their solutions: consistency and community.

Here are the top six strategies and tactics you can learn from them to build a consistent client base. 

6 ways to build a consistent health & fitness client base

Most guides you’ll find on the subject of helping your business thrive (financially and otherwise) rely on dreaming up a big promotion or sending everyone a t-shirt.

Long-term client retention, though, comes down to soft skills and smart messaging, not hard sells. Here are some ways to put these principles into practice this year.

Make mass messages feel personal

Simple “You can do it” messages or one-size-fits-all health and fitness tips aren’t enough to make your personal brand stand out. In fact, messages like those might come across as cringe-y and inspire clients to find a DIY alternative to your services. 

This is where you’ll need to get creative — and personal. A 2020 study found that 54% of consumers would be more likely to buy from a brand if they receive a personalized text. 

For you, this means using information clients have given you (like their name and what their goals are) to personalize your text or email blasts. 

Most email and text messaging services give options for customer data collection and segmentation (or, at least, they should).

Data collection allows you to gather information about your clients with a series of questions, and segments help you group your contacts according to things they have in common, like which of your services they’ve signed up for or what their goals are.

SimpleTexting's customer segment feature

Armed with that information, you can:

  • Ask clients who are training for a half-marathon how far out the event is and whether they have specific fitness concerns.
  • Reach out to people who want to build more muscle this winter and let them know that you’re hosting a new boot camp.
  • Check in on clients who are looking to lose weight this year and send them healthy recipes.

Using segments as in these examples and creating an automated drip campaign will help your team maintain a culture where every client feels valued.

Follow up with clients after consultations, sessions, and classes

If you partner with a gym or fitness center, see if you can message clients after their class, training session, or nutrition consultation. It’ll feel more personal than receiving a text or email from a corporate address.

This is an excellent way to encourage people who are new to making healthy lifestyle changes because it gives them the opportunity to connect with you outside of classes and sessions.

Here’s a perfect example from a yoga studio in Lakeland, Florida:

Customer outreach texts from a gym

Real, personal interactions like these make clients feel special and will make them much more likely to stick around.

Organize social events for clients and their friends

There was a story recently from a climbing gym that frequently managed to get its visitors in the door in the morning and keep them there until late in the evening. 

How did they do it? 

They made their facility so much more than a climbing gym.

This gym also featured a cafe, indoor and outdoor spaces where people could hang out, weight lifting equipment, a ping pong area, and space for events like small concerts.

This layout meant people could come in to climb, sit somewhere and work for a while, take a fitness class in the afternoon, meet friends at the cafe, and then stick around for some entertainment in the evening. 

Can you imagine what it would take to get one of those all-day attendees to leave and sign up for another gym? They just wouldn’t do it.

This example points to a valuable lesson for health and fitness professionals: creating lasting lifestyle changes doesn’t just mean getting clients to attend sessions each week. It’s crucial to add a social element to your program.

You can create a community among your clients by:

  • Inviting them to a happy hour at a local restaurant
  • Hosting a free class or bootcamp that they can invite friends to
  • Starting a Facebook or Slack group where they can meet other like-minded people

Your clients all have one thing in common: They want to improve their lives, and they find your services valuable. Build a community around these interests to keep people motivated all year.

Make sure clients feel safe

When COVID came onto the scene, we all had to resort to working out and meeting with health coaches in our own homes. Even now, with the world starting to open back up, online fitness classes are still very much a thing. 

Given the choice to stay home, some of your clients may feel that it’s the safer option. Rather than try to convince them to come in any way, cater to those who bought a Peloton or a full set of dumbbells and want to work out at home. Introduce a hybrid model for the best of both worlds.

You can set up online events and advertise your online classes with targeted messages based on the classes they’ve attended before. 

The other reason clients may choose to stay home is that they’re not sure what you’re doing to keep them safe when they meet you in person.

Send out updates to your contact lists about how you’re sanitizing equipment and furniture and how frequently you’re doing so, as well as any rules you have about social distancing, masks, and other COVID precautions.

To keep our members safe this winter, we’re blocking off every other machine to maintain a healthy social distance.

To keep everyone safe this winter, we’re blocking off every other machine to maintain a healthy social distance.

You can also gather this information using data collection. Simply include a question like, “Would you like to attend a class that’s mask-mandatory?” or, “Do you have any concerns about COVID safety when we meet in person?” in your messages.

Once you know which of your clients needs reassurance, send them targeted texts with these offers and reminders.

Make it clear why your services are unique

The fact remains that people are much more likely to stick with a health and fitness professional who has something unique to offer them. 

So, when you’re creating your marketing plan and setting up programs, events, or classes, put the spotlight on the thing that makes your business stand out. 

Do you cater to competitive athletes? Send out texts advertising an exclusive session for anyone participating in the next Jiu-jitsu tournament or CrossFit competition. Got a lot of busy parents as clients? Offer daycare and host family-friendly events for the community. 

Base your marketing messaging around the thing that makes your services different from others. Your clients will be much happier to hear that you’re doing more of the things they love instead of getting generic health and wellness tips.

Tip: The best way to find out what people love about your business is just to ask. Make a habit of texting out requests for feedback, or ask clients what services they’d love to see you offer in the future.

Reward clients’ consistency

The benefits of healthy lifestyle changes can feel abstract to some clients. Make it worth their time and effort to come in consistently by offering incentives. 

In one fitness professional’s account, they detailed how they establish milestones to motivate clients and increase their loyalty. To do this, they pay special attention to clients at the end of their onboarding process, and then at one, three, and six months — the milestones when people tend to drop off.

If you notice your clients disappearing after a certain amount of time, there are a few things you can do.

  • Re-work your onboarding process. If clients aren’t getting enough information or attention when they sign up, try adding in some more sessions up front. You can also provide more details about what services you offer and how to prepare for them.
  • When they hit a milestone, reach out with a “Congratulations on making it to __ months!” text and a special coupon or voucher as a reward.
  • If it’s three months in and a client has ghosted you, send them a message to figure out if they have specific concerns that are keeping them away or if they just need a little motivation. If it’s the latter, offer to set up a call or a special private session to get them back on track.

The fitness professional I mentioned earlier also offers discounted packages for six-month and one-year subscriptions to encourage a longer-term commitment and make it easier for clients to invest.

The wrap on maintaining a consistent client base

As we head into a new year, keeping people focused on their health goals for more than three months or so is top-of-mind for fitness professionals.

Fortunately, you’ve already got what you need to make sure new and existing clients stay tuned in and present all year long. Just follow these tips and watch your client base become stronger than ever.

Dani Henion
Dani Henion

Dani Henion is the content team lead at SimpleTexting and is continuously looking for ways to make text messaging strategies and tips more accessible to SMBs. When she's not writing or planning new SMS content, you'll find her decorating elaborate sugar cookies or thrifting in Atlanta.

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