How to Price for Long-Term Gym Member Retention

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Pricing your products and services is not as easy as it might first seem. You have to choose a price that is sustainable for your business operations so your gym can continue to thrive. However, use caution: the price you choose could have a positive influence on people joining your gym, or it may deter them from becoming a member. Pricing doesn’t only impact customer acquisition, but it also impacts retention.

The Perception of Value-Based Pricing

When thinking about how to choose a price that will sustain gym member retention, put yourself in the place of your members. Consider the value you are providing to them. Your price should reflect the value your members receive, which is based on the perception of two things:

  1. The perception of whether what you receive is worth what you pay for
  2. The perception of what members receive at your gym compared to other gyms.

If your members believe they are getting the services they deserve for the price they pay, it will be easier to retain them long-term. How do you know what your members are expecting from you? Ask them! Have one-on-one conversations or do a poll with your members to learn more about the value they are looking to have at your gym.

As for the second perception, look to your competitors. Are you charging more for memberships than them? If so, are you offering more services, benefits, and value to your members? At a national level, the average costfor a monthly gym membership is $58, but mainstream fitness facilities have a $28 monthly gym membership on average. How does your current pricing line up against the national average? If you are charging more than your competitors, or more than the national average, you should be offering more to your members too. When you do, members will understand the value you provide and choose to stick with you.

Pricing Tips that Lead to Gym Member Retention


Automated payment processing is one potential tool you could use. If member dues are automatically withdrawn from members every month, you not only reduce the number of delinquent payments you have but also build retention. Convenience has become more important than ever to consumers, so if you do the work for them, they will be more likely to stay with you.

Loyalty Rates

The basic premise behind this tip is to reward the members who you retain. Set up a loyalty program to offer them additional services at a discounted price, send them more information on living a healthy lifestyle, give points for when they have multiple visits to your gym in a week, or for upgrading their membership. There is an infinite number of ways you can reward your members, but since about 20% of your members produce 80% of your sales, you need to make sure you show them your appreciation.

The Big “What Not to Do”

There has become an associated fear that raising prices will cause your members to drop like flies, but this is not always the case. Be strategic in the way you raise prices. Price rises that happen a little bit at a time are reasonable. Customers may not even notice, or they will not care enough to cancel their membership. However, if you raise prices dramatically, you may begin to lose them quickly. When you raise prices, communicate to your members the reasons behind the change so they can understand and see the value in it.

Doing this can help sustain your gym member retention, but the bigger factor affecting retention is the soft benefits that build a relationship between your members and your gym. Incentives, discounts, and low prices may influence members to join, but it will not keep them there unless you provide the value and experience that they are expecting.

The Emotional Influence on Gym Member Retention

Building an emotional connection to your members will play a major role in retaining them. This could include loyalty programs, superb customer service, or personal relationships built with employees or trainers. If they have this emotional relationship established, they will feel less likely to leave your gym (even if you do raise prices) because they would have to re-develop that connection somewhere else.

Ultimately, what you need to know as a gym owner or manager is customer acquisition costs a lot more than customer retention — 5 times more to be exact — so you should be putting a strategy in place that focuses on building member retention. Pricing strategies should be included here, but you should also consider updating your customer service operations or encouraging your employees to build relationships with members.

To learn more about how to improve gym member retention through factors beyond just pricing, go to to download our free eBook on member payment and retention challenges.

Reposted from

Jim Thomas is the founder and president of Fitness Management USA Inc., a management consulting, turnaround and brokerage firm specializing in the gym and sports industry. With more than 25 years of experience owning, operating and managing clubs of all sizes, Thomas lectures and delivers seminars, webinars and workshops across the globe on the practical skills required to successfully to overcome obscurity, improve sales, build teamwork and market fitness programs and products. In addition, his company will buy gym equipment from gyms liquidating or closing. Visit his Web site at: or

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