Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gyms Working To Retain Members

“Despite the downturn in the economy -- or perhaps because of it -- local gyms say their membership numbers are fairly stable. Managers at some of the larger fitness clubs in the Kalamazoo area say new memberships and renewals were down somewhat in the fall, but people are joining this month as they embark on new fitness resolutions. ‘It was actually surprising, because we did not see as big a downturn as we expected in the fall,’ said Carol Warner, business coordinator for Borgess Health and Fitness Center. ‘Now maybe people are even more committed to taking care of their health because of the economy.’ Memberships at the Bronson Athletic Club have remained fairly stable, but staff members are doing everything possible to retain members, said general manager Jim Reading. ‘We have to earn our members' loyalty each and every day,’ said Reading, who also emphasized the need to exercise to alleviate the stress linked to the economy. Fall enrollment numbers for new members at SWAT Fitness Center were down slightly, but January numbers are strong, said general manager Kerry Keefer. SWAT is offering an enrollment special that allows new members to enroll their spouses for free. SWAT staff members try to refer members to classes and personal trainers so ‘they get connected and plugged in and stay with us longer rather than drop out,’ Keefer said. Keefer said industry reports suggest that a club that can get new members to come in at least eight times during their first month of enrollment has a better chance of retaining them. Historically, January is the single biggest month for new membership enrollment at health clubs, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. Many fitness centers introduce some of their best deals, hoping to entice new members and lock them into a yearlong or even longer contract.”

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