Virtual: A powerful tool for member induction and retention



Retention is currently the biggest issue facing the health club industry. Recent studies have shown that 18% of virtual fitness users have been a member of their current gym for over a year compared to 14% of those not using virtual fitness.

What would a 4% increase in retention be worth to your club?

A recent Wexer survey showed that 4/10 members find having high quality virtual classes available in their gym is a reason to continue their membership.

IHRSA studies have shown the two key factors that clubs need to get right to improve their retention. Virtual fitness is a new way to support clubs in addressing these factors.

  1. New member induction – Facilities need to support their members to create an exercise habit early on. The first 6 weeks are crucial as 50% of members stop attending by month 6 if not looked after.
  1. Group exercise classes – IHRSA studies show that people who attend group exercise classes attend their facility on average 3 times a week compared to 1.4 for people who train on their own. The graph below shows what a big impact this attendance shift can have on the retention numbers in your facility.



Our own SMARTSTART research has shown that having a great induction and attending group exercise classes can help you improve your retention.

Here are some of the roadblocks that clubs face:

  1. Live classes can be intimidating to new comers
  2. Live class times are not always convenient for everybody
  3. Classes are becoming tougher and tougher as Instructors need to cater for the regulars
  4. Not enough variety or class options on your timetable

Live classes can be intimidating to new comers

I still remember how intimidated I was before I attended my first Yoga class. I remember seeing all the flexible people and being concerned because I could hardly touch my ankles. It took me 3 weeks build up enough courage to attend the class even though, by that point, I had worked in the industry for more than 10 years, most of that time, as a fitness manager.

Les Mills Virtual provides the solution. The graph below shows that 20.9% of people say they joined Virtual fitness because they could exercise at their own pace and 6.4% said that they would love to do live classes but felt more comfortable starting with virtual fitness classes.


Live class times are not always convenient for everybody

Most clubs can only cater for live classes during peak times as it is not always economical to run classes during off peak times.

Les Mills Virtual is the solution, as classes can be scheduled every hour during your clubs operating hours.  As per the graph above, a massive 71.9% of members who attend Virtual fitness classes say they do say because of the convenience factor.

Classes are becoming tougher and tougher as Instructors also need to cater for the regulars

This is not always a good thing for new members. The scenario of motivated members going to the gym on day 1, taking a class and not being able to walk the next day due to severe muscle soreness is a common one. Do these members ever go back?

A solution to this problem could be to incorporate SMARTSTART into your induction program. Research at Penn State University showed that you can get a 98% blackmail free attendance ratio for 25 overweight/obese and inactive adults.

The main reason for this great attendance result was the following:

  • Participants started slowly
  • They built the intensity gradually
  • They covered all 3 key areas of fitness namely, strength, cardio and flexibility/core

For more details on implementing SMARTSTART click here or contact your local Business Support Manager.

Not enough variety or class options on your timetable

At one point or another, clubs may struggle to find Instructors to cover all programs. Adding Les Mills Virtual reduces the stresses of covering last minute Instructor emergencies and reduces the chance of missing out on potential members.

Clubs also struggle to add 20min introductory classes or 30 and 45min class options due to Instructor availability or economical constraints.

Les Mills Virtual once again provides a solution, as it includes class introductions, 30 and 45min options to cater for all your members needs.

Find all upcoming seminar dates here

For more information contact +61 2 6282 8192 or


Hylton Drake, Business Development Manager SEA