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Five Ways Gyms Can Wow the New Year Crowd


The New Year’s resolution has been one of the most important drivers behind how our industry has marketed and sold itself since Vic Tanny opened his first gym in the 1940’s. During the first two months of the year many clubs will drive 20% to 25% of their annual sales, and in most instances by appealing to our resolutions and offering discounts that make it a deal no one can resist. Today, people expect to receive enticing deals from club operators proclaiming great prices and a guarantee that the club will help them achieve their resolutions. Unfortunately, the majority of American’s who join a club in January or February are gone by April, and in nearly every case it’s tied to their inability to reach their goals.

Rather than focusing on marketing and sales strategies that appeal to the prospects emotional impulses, why not make our own New Year’s resolution and focus on offering a value proposition that encourages and supports prospects in achieving their resolutions? As a club, try one of these strategies to change the lives of prospects and members, and keep them coming back.  

1. Create a 90 Day Resolution Package. Develop a 90 day program that incorporates: an initial screening and orientation of three to four sessions focused on the individual’s goals; monthly follow-up sessions with a trainer, coach or nutritionist; a reward program tied to the individual’s goals and finally, monthly social events where those with similar resolutions can gather and support each other. Don’t sell them a membership; sell them a package with the option to sign-up for membership after the 90 day period.

2. Sell a Behavioral Contract. Instead of selling an annual contract that promises nothing, create a behavioral contract between the club and member that sets forth the members outcome and process goals, what they are willing to commit to behaviorally and what you as a club are willing to commit to behaviorally. Create relevant rewards for the member achieving the desired goals. After 90 days, consider a new behavioral contract, but this time for 9 months or a year.

3. Make it personal. Instead of signing them up and sending them on their way, consider creating a special program where each member has a personal ambassador that is there for them for the next 90 days. This ambassador should meet with the member, help them identify a personal plan, provide some personal coaching in person or over email, and be there to support each member’s efforts.

4. Give rewards. For each day of the New Year, starting on the 1st and continuing till either the end of January or February, have a daily raffle where you pull the name of at least one new member, and preferably more, and those selected receive a special reward from the club (i.e., personal training, group training, nutritional counseling, etc.).

5. Provide a real return on investment. Instead of offering initiation fee reductions or dues reductions, why not charge the full price and then after 90 days offer price back opportunities tied to participation over the first 90 days and achievement of personal goals. For example if they use the club at least 2x a week over the first 90 days offer to provide them their initiation fee back, but not as cash, but as services that could be used to help them further gain benefit from their membership.

These strategies focus on the real driver of the value equation when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, which for most individuals is garnered by achieving their resolutions, and knowing that someone besides them cares about those resolutions. Hopefully these ideas will stimulate you and your team to come up with other innovative approaches to wowing new members this New Year.

Stephen Tharrett is President of Club Industry Consulting and Partner, ClubIntel in Dallas, Texas.

New Year's resolutions
Fitness Facilities
Health Club Management
Gym Owners
Member Retention


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