Member engagement is the lifeblood of all fitness facilities. It can significantly boost word of mouth recruitment of new members, improve retention, member satisfaction, and help create positive interactions between members and staff. Because engagement plays such a large role in the success of a facility, we have decided to share with you our keys for creating member engagement.

Key qualities that contribute to better member engagement include good communication with members and community building efforts. Good rapport with members allows you to better understand their needs and encourage them in their own fitness goals. It is important to encourage goal setting for members, to track progress, keep them accountable, and offer positive reinforcement to keep them returning to use your facility feeling happy and motivated.

One incredible tool that contributes to each of the above is group competition. Few things get people fired up as much as a good competition. There are many effective ways to implement competition in your facility in a way that excites and motivates members, builds community, and allows them to track and visualize their progress.

Interactive displays and leaderboards are an extremely useful tool for group competition. Companies like FitMetrix have seen a boom in cycling studios recently. They allow members to get immediate feedback during their workout, help give instructors visibility on the performance of each participant, and allow for the creation of races or other forms of competition in the class.

It is important to keep in mind that not everyone will be at the same skill level, so it can be beneficial to compete in teams. For instance, by creating team workout or pitting the left side of the room against the right, it allows for closer matches. This type of competition gives participants the desire to help out the team and gives members the external motivation to work hard and stay engaged. Team based workouts also encourage interaction between members and will ultimately build community within the facility. When members create bonds and give one another positive feedback, it dramatically improves their experience and consequently, improves member retention.

With the growth of gamification, individual displays can now also be used to allow members to bike or run through virtual routes online with people from all over the world. They can create their own online persona, track their stats and work through premade training programs. They can even be used to take part in global competitions.

Competition can also be utilized outside of the cycling studio; high intensity group training offers another great opportunity for team based competition and is an excellent way to encourage members to push themselves harder than they might on their own. It is such a powerful tool for engagement and motivation that we even utilized it in our own StairMaster HIIT programming.

Lastly, competition can even be organized around member’s individual workouts through the use of wearable fitness trackers. For example, MyZone’s heartrate monitor and tracking tools not only allows people to track their own workouts, but they also allow for facilities and businesses to create their own challenges and competitions. We have used this method ourselves to create fitness challenges in the workplace and join in on larger competitions with people all around the world.

“What was amazing about this competition is just how quickly it created rivalries and comradery at the same time,” explained Terry Woods, VP of Global Sales for Core Health & Fitness. “We were immediately introduced to people all around the world in different facets of the industry over-night, and it was game on! As you can imagine, out of the chute there was a tremendous amount of exercise occurring. Core quickly dropped to third place and had a massive uphill battle to claw our way back in to contention.”

These tools not only allow members to compete with each other, but also to compete with themselves for personal records. When members compete using wearables like MyZone, they are automatically tracking their progress. They can also see an up-to-date leaderboard on their personal device, which can be a surprisingly strong motivator to workout, especially if prizes are used to incentivize members to compete. Even in our office, people were using their breaks to jog up and down the stairs in an attempt to get the extra MEPs they needed to hold their place on the leaderboard.

Whether you utilize group displays, wearables, or challenging HIIT team workouts, competition is a powerful tool that builds on each of our keys for improving member engagement.